Contemporary Gospel

Dr. Alyn E. Waller Presents Fresh Anointing – Totally

Dr. Alyn E. Waller Presents Fresh Anointing Totally Enon Music Group (release date: May 11, 2018) By Bob Marovich What is most interesting about Totally, an album by Enon Tabernacle’s young adult choir Fresh Anointing, is how many older hymns the group includes in the mix. For example, the choir gives “Blessed Assurance” a staccato reading with surges of high-voltage harmonies (though the composer credits should more properly read as by Fanny Crosby and Phoebe Knapp, with the arrangement by Sean Tillery). Fresh Anointing’s 2017 single “Holy Holy” is the liturgical classic given a big and austere treatment fitting for a ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: August 13, 2018

“With All My Heart” Marlon McDaniel M2 Music (release date: August 4, 2016) www.marlonmcdaniel.com By Bob Marovich Accompanied only by piano, gospel singer-songwriter Marlon McDaniel delivers a delicate ballad of praise in “With All My Heart.” The song’s audience-melting sweetness earned the Ohio singer from the Church of God in Christ two Rhythm of Gospel Awards this summer: Best Performance by a Male Artist, and Praise & Worship Male Vocalist of the Year. With its lovely melody and uncomplicated lyrics, “With All My Heart” allows so much space for vocal improvisation that gospel singers who hear it will be dying to ...

Read More »

Fred Hammond – The Best of Fred Hammond

Fred Hammond The Best of Fred Hammond Verity Records (release date: June 15, 2018) www.verityrecords.com By Bob Marovich With his husky voice and preacher-like confidence in front of a congregation or audience, Fred Hammond is a solid contender for the title Prince of Power Praise. The hour-plus retrospective The Best of Fred Hammond is part of Verity Records’ #WeAreVerity campaign. It focuses on the former member of Commissioned’s catalog since he first recorded for the label back in 1995 as a soloist supported by his group, Radical for Christ. The music chugs along, track by track, thanks to a smart mix of energetic selections and ...

Read More »

Brenda Jefferson – Invocation

Brenda Jefferson Invocation Scripture Music Group (release date: April 7, 2017) Available on Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Brenda Jefferson is a songwriter who can sing. On her 2007 album, A Time of Refreshing, Jefferson held her own on duets with such leading lights as Lisa Page Brooks and Joe Ligon. On Invocation, however, Jefferson prefers to focus on writing the songs and offering spoken word introductions and inspirational interludes. She leaves the singing of her songs to such an impressive passel of featured artists that the album could easily have been titled Brenda Jefferson and Friends. The album’s high point comes ...

Read More »

“The Pain is Going to End” – Bonita Burney Simmons

“The Pain is Going to End” Bonita Burney Simmons Bursimslow (release date: January 1, 2018) www.bonitaburneysimmons.com By Bob Marovich On her newest single, “The Pain is Going to End,” Bonita Burney Simmons reminds the listener that joy cometh in the morning, no matter how dark everything may look and feel. The song moves from general encouragement to personal testimony when she sings, “it’s just a test to what I believe – it will get better,” and later drops that new church axiom, “I don’t look like what I’ve been through.” The five-and-a-half minute track cries out for a radio edit to ...

Read More »

For Patrick Lundy, It’s About the “Whole Gamut of Sacred Music”

By Bob Marovich Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music mix traditional and classically-infused contemporary gospel into their repertory. While their current single, the unapologetically traditional “Enter His Gates,” continues to impact radio, the group has also recorded an entire album of spirituals and hymns.  This reflects Patrick Lundy’s admiration for, and experience with, the full palette of sacred music. Lundy visited with the Journal of Gospel Music while in Chicago for the annual Chorus America conference. It was almost a foregone conclusion that Patrick Lundy would go into music as a profession. First Missionary Baptist, the church he attended as a child, was blessed with ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: July 2, 2018

“Chainbreaker” Angela “Missy” Billups E’Mazin Entertainment (release date: May 15, 2018) Available digitally By Bob Marovich New York-based singer Angela “Missy” Billups is known for both traditional church wreckers and rhythmic praise ballads. Her latest single, “Chainbreaker,” is right in the middle in terms of tempo, while the lyrics are consistent with the message she has sung at a variety of speeds: that God can release us from the physical and emotional chains that bind us. But you gotta believe. “Chainbreaker,” which Billups sang to an appreciative audience at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards ceremony last month, was produced by ...

Read More »

Ananais Montague – Remember Me: Songs from the Cross, Vol. 1

Ananais Montague Remember Me: Songs from the Cross Vol. 1 Ananais Montague Music www.amusac.com By Bob Marovich Remember Me: Songs from the Cross, Volume 1, from the Chicago born and raised Ananais “Markey” Montague, is a two-disc, seventeen song project that appears to have two main purposes: to follow the narrative from Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) to his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension; and to introduce the songs, either wholly composed or co-written by Montague, to other music ministers. What Montague provides is a collection of contemporary church choir songs–some simple, others more challenging–that combine the classical underpinning of Richard Smallwood with ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: June 18, 2018

“Are You Ready” Jason Champion My Block Records (release date: October 27, 2017) By Bob Marovich To a mid-tempo boogie-woogie rhythm, gospel singer Jason Champion asks the ultimate salvation question: are you ready for Jesus when He comes? He then lets loose with a couple of Sam Cooke yodels and declares he’s ready – in fact, he already has his bags packed. Now that’s ready. The song’s loose and engaging doo-wop drive is given Technicolor treatment in Derek Banks’ video, which depicts Champion dressed in retro clothes, driving a retro car, and playing a retro upright piano at an old farmhouse in ...

Read More »

Bruce Parham – Your Presence

Bruce Parham Your Presence We Here Now Music Group (release date: June 15, 2018) By Bob Marovich An early impetus for Bruce Parham’s solo career came from his grandmother, who instructed her grandson in no uncertain terms to “Open up your mouth and sing!” Sing he did, before church congregations and annual gatherings at the Mt. Sinai Holy Churches of America convention. Bishop Bruce V. Parham Sr., PhD. parlayed his grandmother’s admonition into an integral part of his ministry. Your Presence, available this month, is the latest example of his beefy tenor and love for contemporary and traditional songs and ...

Read More »