Contemporary Gospel

“Won’t He Do It” – The Beard Sisters

“Won’t He Do It” The Beard Sisters DBJ Entertainment (release date: November 15, 2016) www.thebeardsisters.com By Bob Marovich The Beard Sisters of Memphis (Angela, Latonya, and April) are a harmony trio. They sound inspired by Chicago’s Brown Sisters, or a younger version of the Clark Sisters, because of their sassy vocals, multifaceted rhythms, complex vocal blend, and sunny songs of praise and worship. On their soulfully retro-sounding single, “Won’t He Do It,” the trio celebrates God’s willingness to do everything for His people. The song’s hook is the reiterative freefall from a frenetic chorus of “Won’t He Do It” into a breezy jazz ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 8, 2018

“God Is Doing It” Ernest Billups & Tribe of Levi feat. C. Ashley Brown-Lawrence E’Mazin Entertainment (release date: October 5, 2018) Available on Amazon.com By Bob Marovich “God Is Doing It” is Ernest Billups & the Tribe of Levi’s finest single to date. This slow burner with a dramatic melody features a passionate vocal assist from C. Ashley Brown-Lawrence (“I’ve Got the Victory”), who gets downright evangelistic by the vamp as she duets with Billups, who also serves as the songwriter and producer. Like some of the best songs in any genre, “God Is Doing It” was composed during a period ...

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Alfonzo Udell & Chosen Chorale: It’s Not Over

Alfonzo Udell & Chosen Chorale It’s Not Over Independent (release date: July 6, 2018) Available on Amazon.com By Bob Marovich What could have been a routine-sounding project by a small gospel ensemble, It’s Not Over by Bishop Alfonzo Udell & Chosen Chorale has two things in particular going for it: the quality of its songs and outstanding lead vocalists. Brooklyn-born but now based in Columbia, South Carolina, where he pastors High Times Fellowship, Udell wrote all ten of the selections on the album. The songs reference classic contemporary gospel in both lyric and feel. The mantra “keep the faith” recurs on the album, ...

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Shunice Hill-Sullivan – He Won’t Leave Me Alone (EP)

Shunice Hill-Sullivan He Won’t Leave Me Alone (EP) Independent (release date: September 1, 2015) www.ShuniceHillSullivan.com By Bob Marovich On her EP He Won’t Leave Me Alone, Christian singer Shunice Hill-Sullivan eschews gospel music histrionics for understated lyrics and arrangements. A gentle electric piano guides a small quiet storm combo through the four-cut project, which features prayer closet conversations with God. For example, on “Breakthrough,” Shunice speaks to God from a place of unspecific personal trials. She seeks forgiveness and a return to discipleship, knowing that a breakthrough is possible only after she is back in God’s good graces. “Draw Me ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 18, 2018

“Unto the Lamb” Kim Stratton Kingdom Records (release date: May 15, 2018) By Bob Marovich On “Unto the Lamb,” Chicago-based gospel songstress Kim Stratton sings “a brand new song.” Although she’s referencing salvation, in another sense, “Unto the Lamb” is itself a brand new song – her first in six years. After focusing  on growing her catering business, the powerhouse church singer tears into Julie Meyer’s “blood” composition with the dramatic vitality that listeners have come to expect from the powerhouse church singer. The radio edit concludes just as Stratton is getting fired up, so I’d recommend the full length version. Regardless, a new ...

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Bonita Burney Simmons – This Time

Bonita Burney Simmons This Time Bursimslow Music (release date: August 6, 2016) www.bonitaburneysimmons.com By Bob Marovich Bonita Burney Simmons has been compared to Tramaine Hawkins, but I hear more than a touch of Gladys Knight in her voice on her most recent album, This Time. Especially on the opening track, the mid-tempo “God’s People Arise.” Simmons possesses a creamy voice that only moves into evangelist territory when the spirit hits her, as on “I Must Tell Jesus.” This track finds her singing at her most inspired as she shares how she almost gave up. When she became too tired to fight, ...

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Elder Arlester Washington & the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir – Thank You

Elder Arlester Washington & the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir Thank You (EP) Pure Harvest Entertainment, 2014 859-233-4876 By Bob Marovich For decades, the mass choir movement has gathered together men and women of all ages and from a variety of denominations to fellowship in song. Though small in comparison to most mass choirs, the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir fits this definition. Organized in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1990, the choir’s most recent recording is a five-track EP called Thank You. The 2014 release features its leader, gospel music veteran Elder Arlester Washington. Back in the day, Washington sang and ...

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“Laughter (Just Like Medicine)” – BeBe Winans feat. K.S.

“Laughter (Just Like Medicine)” BeBe Winans featuring K.S. (release date: September 4, 2018) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich BeBe Winans and K.S. paraphrase Proverbs 17:22 on the mid-tempo “Laughter (Just Like Medicine).” This appropriately easygoing song is quintessential BeBe in its liberal doses of R&B to deliver an inspirational message. Here, the point is to deal with trials and tribulations by minimizing them. Laughter can heal your soul just as medicine can heal your body. “Just like Pepto Biz!” BeBe sings. BeBe and K.S. are on to something. Laughter releases endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals in your brain that, in turn, ...

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“Changed Me” – Vonnie Blackshear

“Changed Me” Vonnie Blackshear (release date: August 10, 2018) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich Dramatic vocalist Vonnie Blackshear of Mount Rainier, Maryland, out-sings the swirl of synthesizers on this declaration of appreciation for being transformed and made stronger by God’s love. While the musicianship gives the song a quiet storm vibe, and in a way, it works because Blackshear’s soaring high notes cry out for equal amounts of musical muscle, I suspect the song would be just as intense, if not more so, were Blackshear backed by just piano, organ, and drums. I’d love to hear a remix version!

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 27, 2018

“Love Somebody Today” Genessis & Nikki From the album Genessis & Nikki https://genessisandnikki.com/ By Bob Marovich If the sister duo Genessis & Nikki wanted the single from their self-titled debut album to be a whopper, they sure picked one in “Love Somebody Today.” Written by Riley Clemmons, Gabe Patillo, and the duo’s producer Phil Sillas, “Love Somebody Today” is a rousing, joy-filled anthem that lunges at the listener with a battery of hooks and inspirational messages. The ladies not only believe that love has the power to change the world, they declare that it’s our job to take the first step ...

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