Contemporary Gospel

Le’Andria Johnson’s “Bigger Than Me” Fits Her Past, Present, and Future

By Bob Marovich Rome wasn’t built in a day.  The world took a little more time to create. Some music albums take many months to produce. Not Le’Andria Johnson’s latest album, Bigger Than Me. She told JGM it took less than a week. “We were just sitting in a creative space, [producers] Claude Kelly, Chuck Harmony, and myself,” Johnson explained, “and we were talking about life’s struggles and life’s difficulties.” The discussion naturally led to a conversation about God and how He’s bigger than any problem. Eureka moment. Bigger Than Me. “That matches us perfectly,” she said. “We did every song ...

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“Simply Because” – Dana Fields feat. Adam Brock

“Simply Because” Dana Fields feat. Adam Brock From the album A Personal Experience (2016) www.danafields.com By Bob Marovich Songstress Dana Fields’ silky smooth praise song “Simply Because” gets a double shot of passion courtesy of the soulful vocalizing of her duet partner, American Idol contestant Adam Brock. The two voices fit together like two puzzle pieces, a twenty-first century iteration of the sweet-and-spicy combo of Syreeta Wright and Billy Preston. Fields and Brock move perceptibly from gentle to big finish to render the uncomplicated lyrics and melody that surfaced in Fields’s spirit as she was going about her daily routine. This is how skilled vocalists ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 24, 2017

“I Give You Praise” Robert E. Person feat. Richard Smallwood From the forthcoming REP album Classic Covers www.roberteperson.com By Bob Marovich Covering Richard Smallwood’s composition “I Give You Praise” is commendable. Having the maestro himself accompany on piano is inspired. Originally released by Smallwood on his 1989 album Portrait (Word Entertainment), “I Give You Praise” combines the drama of high theater with the passion of high church in offering plaudits to the Most High. Vocalist Robert E. Person’s classical training is in evidence on this version from the quiet opening to the expansive coda. Roderick Giles & Grace, who accompanied Bryan Andrew Wilson ...

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Jermaine Dolly – The Dolly Express

Jermaine Dolly The Dolly Express DarkChild Gospel / By Any Means Necessary LLC (release date: June 9, 2017)                 By Bob Marovich The Dolly Express, the main conceit of Jermaine Dolly’s debut full-length album of the same name, bears similarity to the storied Gospel Train, the subject of old hymns, with a couple important exceptions. First, while only the saved are welcome on board the Gospel Train, Dolly’s locomotive invites everyone on this free trip. And second, the conductor is not Jesus but Dolly himself. His duty, like a good Christian, is to lead his ...

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Bigger Than Me – Le’Andria

Bigger Than Me Le’Andria RCA Inspiration (release date: July 21, 2017) By Bob Marovich Bigger Than Me, Le’Andria Johnson’s fifth album, is her best album since her 2011 debut, the chart-topping Music World Gospel release, The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson. Best because the songs, for the first time since Awakening, feel right for her, melodically and lyrically. This album is direct and honest rather than focused on inspirational messages with an undercurrent of crossover aspiration. Song lyrics like “I’ve tried every shortcut” and have “gone through hell” (“Come Through”) and “I took on way too much…now I have to pay the cost” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 17, 2017

“Grace” Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago feat. Le’Andria Johnson Inspired People, LLC (release date: July 7, 2017) Available from digital media outlets By Bob Marovich Pastor Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago’s “Grace” feels like a quicker-tempo version of Kirk Franklin’s “I Smile” with its plinky piano, chirpy melody, finger-popping rhythm, and unison singing. The choir declares that they don’t look like what they’ve been through, and it’s because of God’s favor. God has brought them from a mighty long way. They’re blessed by the best. Then Le’Andria Johnson jumps in and drops a healthy helping of righteous southern soul on ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 3, 2017

“Grace & Mercy” Tamika Patton feat. Min. Earl Bynum Available on iTunes and other Digital Media www.TamikaPatton.com By Bob Marovich On the independent single, “Grace & Mercy,” Tamika Patton proclaims her gratitude to God for his unconditional love and forgiveness. Such compassion, given “to a wretch like me,” has inspired her to pass it forward. The song’s carefree arrangement and mid-tempo two-step rhythm echo Patton’s exhilaration. She and featured guest vocalist Minister Earl Bynum, who joins halfway through, complement one another well. Their melodic voices, gilded with gospel grit, have a tangy blend, like salt and vinegar, as they go ...

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“The Call” – Personal Praise

“The Call” Personal Praise RoBabies Records (release date: March 28, 2017) www.MyPersonalPraise.com By Bob Marovich Close your eyes, and with the exception of the first few seconds of throbbing electronica, you’d swear “The Call” is a record from the ‘80s. Well it is. . .kinda. Originally introduced in the late ’80s by brother-sister duo Anointed, “The Call” was recently covered by another sibling duo, Personal Praise. The teenaged Tez and Yana of Personal Praise were not even born when “The Call” was first performed, but they channel all the energy of ‘80s electric polyrhythms and two-part harmonies into this song ...

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De’Leon – Church Boy Soul (EP)

De’Leon Church Boy Soul EP We Here Now Music Group (release date: April 14, 2017) www.deleoncarr.com By Bob Marovich A member of some of the top gospel choirs of their day and now a 2017 Rhythm of Gospel Award winner, De’Leon Carr offers a cornucopia of sounds, styles, and messages on his EP, Church Boy Soul. The EP’s high point is the brisk opening track, “He Will Take Care.” De’Leon and his choir reach back to classic gospel for this one, which I first heard a church choir sing in 1984, likely taking its lead from the Thompson Community Singers’ ...

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Men of God’s Heart (self-titled)

Men of God’s Heart self-titled Independent release; release date: March 24, 2017 Available at digital music retail outlets By Bob Marovich Men of God’s Heart is a six-member contemporary quartet that can easily draw comparisons to the Rance Allen Group, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, and the Winans. In fact, on “Wilderness,” a track on their self-titled album, the group pays tribute to the Winans, suggesting that the Detroiters are direct influences on the Columbus, Ohio, male vocal group. Men of God’s Heart delivers the meatiness of traditional gospel quartet—the hard singing, the shouting, the preaching moments—with heavy instrumentation and ...

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