Contemporary Gospel

“My Brothers” – Brotha Mike

“My Brothers” Brotha Mike From the EP Second Chance (released December 2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/brothamike1 Gospel music is made for such a time as this. On “My Brothers,” Detroit’s Brotha Mike defends those who haven’t had the same opportunities as others and those who deserve a second chance. “They didn’t make us,” he sings, “so they can’t break us.” As a saxophone wails and the arrangement gets progressively bluesier, Brotha Mike moves from empathy to encouragement: “Keep your head high / You don’t have to look down.” By the end, he is enjoining everyone to come together “to make a better world.” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 30, 2017

“I Got Out” Bryan Popin Little Boy Wonder Music (release date: January 15, 2017) www.bryanpopin.com Dubbed “Little Boy Wonder” by Stevie Wonder, gospel artist Bryan Popin infuses”I Got Out” with a Pentecostal-flavored explosion of gratitude to God for helping him escape his personal trials.  Popin assures that God will help you out of your “going through,” also. The single is reminiscent of the traditional-meets-contemporary blend of “Alright” and “Thank You Jesus” from Popin’s 2013 album, You Can Make It. From an old-school congregational singalong opening to its evangelist-on-fire vamp, “I Got Out” rocks so hard, it burns to a crisp, ...

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Kinsmen: Creating Family Harmony

By Bob Marovich From their genesis in the Vasser Family basement to their forthcoming debut as television actors, the men of Kinsmen demonstrate how a family that sings together stays together. Around 1985, Robert Vasser, a member of Rev. Dr. Clay Evans’ Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, gathered his sons Kevin and Keith and their first cousins, Van Moody and Reggie Tillman, to try their hand at gospel singing. The quartet of young men stood in the Vasser basement and worked on emulating one of Robert’s favorite groups, the Mighty Clouds of Joy. “We started singing around the record player,” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 23, 2017

“No Rivals” Alyce Metallo www.AlyceMetallo.com Available at digital outlets Singing “My heart is yours / There are no rivals / You have no rivals, Jesus,” Alyce Metallo makes it clear who holds her heart for real. The pop melody is equal parts solemn and ear candy. It benefits from a soaring production courtesy of Nathan Walter, formerly of the Christian band Plus One. Metallo, a Washington, DC, singer-songwriter, wrote this song after the loss of her father, who disappeared on the snowy streets of DC for ten days and did not survive the cold.  It served as both catharsis and ...

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Monae Miller – #ForeverAlive (EP)

Monae Miller #ForeverAlive (EP) Monae Miller Music www.monaemillermusic.com By Bob Marovich The writer Anton Chekhov admonished his fellow writers: “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” This quote hung in the air while I was reviewing Kansas-born and Texas-based singer-songwriter Monae Miller’s #ForeverAlive EP. The photo on the front and back covers, as well as photos within the CD booklet, show her holding a guitar. So I anticipated that ...

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Kenneth Wilson Chorale – Incorruptible Seed

Kenneth Wilson Chorale Incorruptible Seed Love Records (release date: January 1, 2017) http://kennethwilsonchorale.hearnow.com By Bob Marovich Drawing from 1 Peter 1:23 for its title, Incorruptible Seed is the latest album from Detroit’s Kenneth Wilson Chorale, a group that demonstrates high-level vocal training in its easy, controlled delivery. Wilson’s songs—he wrote all the selections—append messages of hope and encouragement to mid-tempo contemporary gospel choir music. The album’s thematic premise of God’s constancy for His people is condensed in the opening track, “I’ve Got Jesus.” This rhythmic, mid-tempo cut points to the primacy of Jesus as all anyone needs to weather a ...

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Riverside SDA Church: The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion

Riverside SDA Church The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion G.Favored Entertainment Group/DREAM Gospel/ Capitol Christian Distribution www.RiversideNashville.org By Bob Marovich While gospel music is most often associated with Baptist and Pentecostal/Holiness churches, the Black Seventh Day Adventist Church, as just about all African American denominations by this point, has embraced the rhythm of gospel music. Riverside SDA in Nashville is no different. Founded in 1945, the church has grown from 26 members to a congregation that fills a sizable sanctuary on the banks of the Cumberland River. The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion is a two-CD set that offers a hefty ...

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Various Artists – Heal: Songs of Hope for our Nation

Various Artists Heal: Songs of Hope for our Nation Motown Gospel (release date: January 13, 2017) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Gospel music often functions as protest music. Either explicitly, as during the Black Power Movement of the late 1960s, or implicitly, with semi-coded lyrics like the spirituals before them, gospel songs fight back against an oppressive world with messages of faith and encouragement that trouble won’t last always. Heal: Songs of Hope for our Nation from Motown Gospel offers ten examples of how contemporary gospel music is poised to carry on the fight against evil and oppression in today’s uncertain political climate. The ...

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J. Bethel & Spoken For – All In

J. Bethel & Spoken For All In (independent release) www.jbs4.co By Bob Marovich All in, indeed. Frenetically rolling drums at the outset signify that the debut full-length release by Detroit gospel group J. Bethel & Spoken For is about to dazzle the listener with a proverbial kitchen sink’s worth of instrumentation and a high-energy range of musical influences, from jazz to rock to contemporary gospel and even some funk (after all, Jason “J” Bethel Sr.’s uncle worked with Parliament Funkadelic). The album leans heavy on the church truism that praise is the answer, especially during personal trials, as articulated on “I ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 9, 2017

“Whoa” Bryan Andrew Wilson Bryan’s Songs/CE Music Bryan Andrew Wilson opens 2017 with a well-crafted single whose message of encouragement is a life saver in the midst of a swirling rapid. “I see past my now / I know it will get better,” he sings, and as the music and voices build, so does the buoyancy of the message. Nevertheless, the musicians keep the drama at bay, rolling at an easy clip to let the lyrics do the heavy lifting. “Whoa” is a fine follow up to “Overflow” and much closer to “Turning Away” in appeal. Check out Bryan’s crystalline ...

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