Contemporary Gospel

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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JGM Pick of the Week: December 19, 2017

“This Far” Half Mile Home (release date: September 29, 2017) www.halfmilehome.com By Bob Marovich Half Mile Home’s single, “This Far,” sounds global and acts local. The opening church phrases, cloaked as they are in expansive Take 6-like harmonies, sound as if they are coming from a choir loft, signifying a call for communal faith and encouragement. But when the music slides into an intimate R&B groove, you realize the message is far more personal. The song, different from the track of the same name from their 2010 project Change My Lyfe, was inspired by two tragedies that forever changed the life of Half Mile Home’s Todd ...

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Curtis Fondren – You Are My Everything (EP)

Curtis Fondren You Are My Everything (EP) GreCur Entertainment (2017) By Bob Marovich Those who know the Chicago gospel scene know Curtis Fondren. A percussionist who has worked with untold numbers of gospel artists, the Reverend Dr. Clay Evans’s Fellowship M.B. Church Choir in particular, Fondren has participated in more recordings than one can count. Most recently, he was holding down the beat for the artists on Lift Him Up: Chicago Gospel Keyboard Masters, a 2016 release by The Sirens Records. You’ll hear Fondren on his new EP, You Are My Everything, as a musician and songwriter. He has trotted ...

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“Thank You Lord” – Melody and Harmony

“Thank You Lord” Melody and Harmony From the EP Greater Purpose (2017) http://smarturl.it/mel-harm By Bob Marovich There’s no harmony like sister harmony. Sibling Christian music duo Jeannette Hunte and Samantha Saul were born in Guyana, a country just east of Venezuela on South America’s North Atlantic Coast. The sisters accepted Christ at a young age and have been singing together all their lives. “Thank You Lord,” one of the four songs on their new EP, Greater Purpose, is a simple song of gratitude.  They deliver it with an emphasis on melody over rhythm that is emblematic of European gospel groups, itself a result of the ...

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Various Artists: Family Bonded – Musical Stage Play Soundtrack

Various Artists Family Bonded: Musical Stage Play Soundtrack Sea Fields Productions (release date: October 6, 2017) http://seafieldsproductions.wixsite.com/2013 By Bob Marovich In October, theatergoers in Sacramento, California, were treated to a gospel musical called Family Bonded about four siblings who, being abandoned by their mother, are raised by their sister. Not long after the show ended its October run, Chris Fields, author of the stage play and composer of the featured songs, released a soundtrack starring the original cast. In addition to Fields, talented cast members Yvette Pennington, Leticia Woods, Gregory Allen, Teresa Perea, Josette Williams, and Donnell Gray get turns at ...

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Norris Garner / Szymon Markiewicz: God Created: Musical Oratorio (DVD)

Norris Garner / Szymon Markiewicz God Created: Musical Oratorio (DVD) Norris Garner Music (2017) norrisgarnermusic@gmail.com By Bob Marovich Several years ago, singer, director, and songwriter Norris Garner (“He’s Blessing Me”) wrote “God Created” while teaching gospel music workshops in Poland. His Polish colleague, conductor Szymon Markiewicz, suggested he turn the humble song into a masterwork. Garner did. The result is God Created, a gospel oratorio recorded live on May 8, 2015, at the Sulwalki Gospel Festival in Poland and released this year on DVD. What’s an oratorio, you may ask? It is a large musical composition written for orchestra, choir, and soloists, and ...

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Dr. Clarence Eggleton and the Singing Ecclesiastics (s/t)

Dr. Clarence Eggleton and the Singing Ecclesiastics (self-titled) Clareton Music (2015) Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Dr. Clarence Eggleton, a GRAMMY-nominated songwriter who wrote for artists from the Reverend James Cleveland to Sara Jordan Powell, convened several talented vocalists to breathe life into a dozen compositions from his catalog of more than 500. The result is the self-titled project Dr. Clarence Eggleton and the Singing Ecclesiastics. Accompanied by a crew of very competent musicians and a seven-member mixed vocal group, one soloist after another steps to the microphone to put his or her own imprint on Eggleton’s creations. Many vocal colors—from ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 27, 2017

“I Am Triumphant” Michelle Brooks-Thompson (2017) www.michellebrooksthompsonmusic.com By Bob Marovich On her new single, “I Am Triumphant,” gospel songstress Michelle Brooks-Thompson and her background singers console those who feel defeated by letting them know they are already winners.  Their victory is already in the bag, through Christ Jesus. After the collective establishes the song’s premise, the BGVs maintain the mantra while Michelle breaks loose to weave a vocal tapestry of evangelistic passion, which includes a stave-soaring high note just before the song enters its cool down mode. Speaking of triumphant, Michelle, who was a finalist on Season 3 of NBC’s The Voice, recently won the top ...

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Ruth La’Ontra – I Got You

Ruth La’Ontra I Got You ALJR Music Group/Tyscot Records (release date: September 22, 2017) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich To the best of my recollection, the last time a Ruth Jones was in gospel music, she was a teenager singing with Sallie Martin. Finding it difficult to keep boy-crazy Ruth in check, Sallie returned her to her mother. Ruth later resurfaced as a solo artist, better known as the Queen of the Blues Dinah Washington. The new Ruth Jones goes by Ruth La’Ontra. On I Got You, the live follow-up to her debut release, So Good, Ruth showcases an instantly appealing gospel voice that ...

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