Contemporary Gospel

“Hallelujah” – Ben Harrell feat. Alisha Bender

“Hallelujah” Ben Harrell feat. Alisha Bender (release date: December 10, 2017) http://www.writersfoundationllc.org/ By Bob Marovich “Hallelujah” is part confessional, part praise song, part CCM, and part gospel. In her lovely soprano, Alicia Bender, a classically-trained singer and former member of the Howard Gospel Choir, sings Ben Harrell’s hymn about the reciprocal love between God and His people. The chorus, of which the first four notes evoke Leonard Cohen’s song by the same title, is ideal for a worship team singalong. Tunesmith Harrell has also written songs demonstrated by Summer Pearson and Paul Thompson. A number of songwriters, in fact, have ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 16, 2018

“He Rose” Brent Jones From the EchoPark JDI Entertainment album Joy Comin’ (release date: August 12, 2014) By Bob Marovich Calling “He Rose” a “good old Baptist song,” Brent Jones and his choir offer a good old Easter Sunday song that works for any time of the year. This bouncy and muscular outing finds Jones leading the big-voiced choir in collective enthusiasm about Jesus’s victory over death during the Passion and, in rising, cleansing the sins of humanity. By the conclusion, Jones has the soprano, alto, and tenor sections singing in contrapuntal harmony (it’s so good they could have reprised this ...

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RIP: Edwin Hawkins, Architect of Contemporary Gospel

By Bob Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music has learned that Edwin Hawkins, whose arrangement of the nineteenth-century hymn “Oh Happy Day” became a crossover success and signaled the emergence of contemporary gospel music, passed away today (Jan. 15) in Pleasanton, California. Here is a brief biography I put together: Born August 19, 1943, to Mamie and Dan Lee Hawkins, Edwin Hawkins grew up in music. Trained by his elder brother, Edwin began playing piano at age five and accompanied the family group. By the time he was sixteen, Edwin had sung at a variety of churches in the Bay Area and was part ...

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“Forever” – Jason Nelson

“Forever” Jason Nelson From the CD The Answer RCA Inspiration (release date: January 12, 2018) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich A song birthed as an improvisational line sung by Jason Nelson’s wife Tonya in their kitchen has become the first radio single from the singer-songwriter and pastor’s forthcoming CD, The Answer. “Forever” is a passionately sung melodic ballad, from God’s point of view, on the constancy of His support and the extent of His love. “Forever is a long time / But that’s how long I’ll love you,” Nelson and his background vocalists sing. “No matter what you face, you won’t ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 8, 2018

“God is in Control” Kerri Gordon Independent Release (release date: July 27, 2017) www.kerrigordon.com By Bob Marovich Kerri Gordon’s debut single, “God is in Control,” is a let-go-and-let-God ballad sung from the point of view of someone who has realized this personally—as a single parent raising three children, one with special needs. “I tried it on my own,” Gordon sings, but “I made up my mind, whatever comes. . .He has it all in control.” She and her background vocalists then repeat the message to benefit listeners feeling the same impatience and disappointment. The musicians give the song a laid back but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 1, 2018

“Your Will” Bill Moss Jr. feat. J Moss Salathiel Records (release date: July 21, 2017) www.billmossmusic.com By Bob Marovich Although they debuted on the gospel scene as the Moss Brothers, Bill and James “J” Moss have since pursued separate solo careers. They come together again on “Your Will,” an understated, piano-introduced, and jazzy rumination on the personal benefits of living a Godly life. On the single, from Bill Jr.’s project, Live with Third New Hope: Songbook of Praise & Worship, the brothers notch the gospel heat up with every newly sung verse. The song oozes class and sophistication as the brothers deliver ...

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Angelo & Veronica: The Truth

Angelo & Veronica The Truth A&V Music (release date: November 23, 2017) www.angeloandveronica.com By Bob Marovich Brown-eyed gospel duo Angelo & Veronica first made waves during the 1990s with their messages of overcoming sung with the suavity of BeBe & CeCe Winans. They racked up three Dove Awards in the process. Their new album, The Truth, offers a remix of two of their best-known hits alongside new songs, each delivered with the husband-and-wife team’s trademark passion and laid-back R&B backdrop. Their voices have matured, however, to where they sound more like Michael McDonald and Anita Baker these days than BeBe and CeCe. Maturity and ...

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Anthony Brown & group therapy: [a long way from sunday]

Anthony Brown & group therAPy [a long way from sunday] Tyscot Records (release date: July 28, 2017) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich [a long way from Sunday] is Anthony Brown & group therAPy’s third album for Tyscot Records and the follow-up to 2015’s Everyday Jesus, which earned the group no less than ten Stellar Awards in 2016, including Song of the Year for “Worth.” The album may be third in chronological order, but it is number one in terms of quality and consistency of message. Brown opens with a brief narration that sets the album’s tone. He says he was “raised ...

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Javon Inman – Agape * Eros

Javon Inman Agape * Eros Liberty Music (release date: November 10, 2017) www.javoninman.com By Bob Marovich Javon Inman ladles an ample serving of amor into Agape * Eros, a 40 minute musical journey into the realms of spiritual and human love. Agape * Eros reminds me of Fred Hammond’s 2012 offering God, Love & Romance. If Hammond’s release was a tad controversial at the time (truthfully, though, there’s been tension between agape and eros in gospel music for a while), combining sacred and human love on one album is all but de rigueur today. All but one of the opening tracks on Inman’s latest ...

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