Contemporary Gospel

Marvin Sapp – Close

Marvin Sapp Close RCA Inspiration (release date: September 29, 2017) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Ever since 2007’s Thirsty and its crossover hit, “Never Would Have Made It,” a Marvin Sapp album release has become something of a special event. As a result, every one of his albums, starting with Thirsty, has hit the number one position on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart. Close, released tomorrow on RCA Inspiration, is probably going to be the next number one for Bishop Sapp, whose muscular voice and aggressive delivery reminds me of his fellow Commissioned member, Fred Hammond. The album, produced by longtime collaborator Aaron Lindsey, opens ...

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“Calvary’s Cross” – Min. David A. Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions

“Calvary’s Cross” Minister David A. Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions (release date: September 29, 2017) http://dawhitfieldproductions.webs.com/ By Bob Marovich On their latest single, “Calvary’s Cross,” Minister David Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions raise aloft the standard of expansive contemporary choir singing established in part by David’s uncle, the late Maestro Thomas Whitfield. This call-and-response piece on the cleansing power of Jesus’s death on the cross is produced by Pastor Rudolph Stanfield Jr., another towering giant of Detroit gospel. Thunderous singing, thick harmonies, and melancholy instrumentation rise toward the conclusion like the ascent to Calvary. Whitfield Productions can trace its founding to a May 18, ...

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“Believe” – Marnae Greenhill

“Believe” Marnae Greenhill GStar Entertainment (release date: January 27, 2017) www.marnaegreenhill.org By Bob Marovich Biblical references about Jesus’s miracles abound in this up-tempo selection, especially his raising up of Lazarus, whose emergence from the darkness of death into the light of life is a metaphor for singer Marnae Greenhill’s personal rescue “from a dark place.” The Baltimore native gives the song a decent, energetic reading, as befits the subject matter.  The recording would have been better without the over-caffeinated electronic burbles and a more strategic use of the background vocalists, all of which enthuse over Greenhill’s overcoming but too often overshadow the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 5, 2017

“Never Give Up on You” Dennis Yancey http://www.igaraa.com/dennis-yancey.html By Bob Marovich Indie gospel artist Dennis Yancey’s “Never Give Up on You” is a simple, effective, and tunefully smooth ballad about maintaining complete trust in God, especially during the tough times, because God has never given up on us. Yancey’s relaxed vocals make his singing sound effortless. Sparkling production by Suga Mike Allen ensures that the message is undeniably clear. It’s reminiscent of their earlier collaboration on the equally compelling ballad of faith, “Though You Slay Me.” From Queens, New York, Dennis Yancey just celebrated his 40th birthday last month. A full ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 29, 2017

“Higher Place” Angelo and Veronica From the forthcoming A & V Music CD The Truth http://angeloandveronica.com/ By Bob Marovich In 1992, fresh on the scene and armed with training from Berklee College of Music, contemporary Christian singing duo Angelo and Veronica released their first album, Higher Place, on A & M Records. Among the songs they co-wrote for their debut disc was the title track, a song about a “place where you can just be you.” Luring the listener with the lyric line, “You take me to a higher place / You take me to a place I’ve never been ...

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Michelle David – The Gospel Sessions Volume 2

Michelle David The Gospel Sessions Vol. 2 Excelsior Recordings www.excelsior-recordings.com By Bob Marovich Ironically, Michelle David’s The Gospel Sessions Volume 2 has such deep roots in Americana music that it probably would never be released by a U.S.-based gospel label. The current clamor for big and bold gospel singing and stadium-sized musicianship has eclipsed the more subtle, but no less soulful, sacred sounds and nuanced artistry of singers like Liz Vice and, as she demonstrates on this album, Michelle David. David, born and educated in New York and living in Holland since 1994, reunites with multi-instrumentalists Onno Smit, Toon Oomen, and ...

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“Holy, Holy” – Fresh Anointing

“Holy, Holy” Fresh Anointing Enon Music Group (release date: March 17, 2017) Available from digital media outlets By Bob Marovich Released in March of this year by the young adult choir Fresh Anointing of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, “Holy, Holy” is a contemporary take on the nineteenth-century hymn. Garland “Miche” Waller, Enon’s minister of music, packs his adagio arrangement of the beloved hymn with the bold, round harmonies characteristic of the modern gospel choir. Fresh Anointing builds the song’s dynamics incrementally, but as soon as they hit the song’s emotional apex and you expect a key change or big, dramatic ...

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“Jesus Is Lord” – Calvin Bridges

“Jesus is Lord” Calvin Bridges From the PNEUMA/Spirit Recordings, Inc. EP Jesus is Lord (release date: July 18, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/calvinbridges15 By Bob Marovich Back in February of this year, Greater Harvest M. B. Church on Chicago’s South Side was the live recording headquarters for the award-winning gospel singer-songwriter Calvin Bridges (“I Can Go to God in Prayer”). Among the songs he introduced that evening was “Jesus Is Lord.” This radio-friendly R&P song evokes the effervescence of the artist himself in its periodic staccato blasts of funk from the musicians and tight call-and-response between Bridges and his choir. Bridges wraps his ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 21, 2017

“Too Hard Not To” Tina Campbell Malaco Music Group / Gee Tee Creative (2017) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Tina Campbell’s new single, “Too Hard Not To,” feels like an intimate girlfriend-to-girlfriend conversation about the difficulty, and also the importance, of forgiving and forgetting. The intimacy not only comes from the song’s lyric, but also from the stripped down acoustic piano accompaniment. Delivering the lovely melody with grace and tenderness, Campbell reminds the listener that no matter how bad a situation gets, no matter how hard it is to forgive those who have done the unthinkable to you, there’s “someone so loving and ...

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“Where Do We Go” – Paula & Angie

“Where Do We Go” Paula & Angie From the G2 Music Group CD Where Do We Go (release date: August 4, 2017) www.paulaandangiemusic.com By Bob Marovich On the title track of their new album, Where Do We Go, mother-daughter gospel duo Paula & Angie offer sound advice on how Christians can make a difference in today’s turbulent world. Opening with bluesy gospel piano and organ, the song drops into a comfortable mid-tempo groove. The duo asks the body ecclesiae to not get caught up in “rules and doctrines” but instead adopt Christ-like action to “do what’s best for all God’s children, not just me.” Like ...

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