Contemporary Gospel

JGM Pick of the Week: July 5, 2021

“Ain’t Nobody Like Jesus” Ron Rawls Red Torch Music (release date: June 15, 2021) www.rawlsmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich Ron Rawls may be best known as the music director for Christian artist Mandisa; he worked on her Grammy and Dove Award-winning album, Overcomer (2013). On “Ain’t Nobody Like Jesus,” a bracing pop-flavored ode of gratitude to Jesus, Rawls shows his stuff as a solo artist. Its funky chorus evokes jams from the likes of John Legend and Bruno Mars. Fundamentally the song is a call-and-response between Rawls and the background vocalists, but the superb musicians and Rawls’ staccato delivery and ...

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“America Bless God” – Bonita Burney Simmons

“America Bless God” Bonita Burney Simmons Independent (release date: January 7, 2021) www.bonitaburneysimmons.com By Robert M. Marovich In the introduction to “America Bless God,” the award-winning North Carolina gospel singer Bonita Burney Simmons offers an invitation to worship by quoting the patriotic anthem written by Irving Berlin in 1938, but then flips the title and transitions into a brand new song. Simmons looks back on 2020, with its hurricanes, pandemic, and political division, and declares that it’s time to come together and give God praise. Some of the lyric lines don’t fall trippingly from the tongue but the sentiment is ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 29, 2021

“Your Presence is a Gift” E. Dewey Smith Pebble Street Records (release date: March 5, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich If Dr. E. Dewey Smith, senior pastor of the House of Hope in Georgia, wanted to come out of the chute with just the right solo debut single, he could do no better than “Your Presence is a Gift.” Produced by John Webb and featuring Zaviel Janae and BET Sunday Best finalist Zebulon Ellis in the team of background vocalists, the song finds Smith delivering what amounts to his testimony in the silkiest vocals this side of Brian Courtney Wilson. ...

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“The Sound of Revival” – Edwrin Sutton

“The Sound of Revival” Edwrin Sutton From the Black Smoke Music Worldwide CD The Revival (release date: May 8, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Gospel singer-songwriter Edwrin Sutton sets the nineteenth-century Presbyterian hymn “Revive Us Again” to a contemporary rhythmic call-and-response motive between him and his troupe of background singers. Sutton’s raw-edged singing during the song’s come-to-Jesus vamp evokes an evangelist at a tent revival, Bible aloft, walking the aisles, shouting the spirit down, and turning up the temperature near to praise break levels. Third cousin to soul superstar Otis Redding, Edwrin Sutton is North Carolina-born and living in the ...

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Jason Clayborn & the Atmosphere Changers – God Made It Beautiful

Jason Clayborn & the Atmosphere Changers God Made It Beautiful Tyscot / JayClay Music (release date: April 16, 2021) www.tyscot.com By Robert M. Marovich It is a pleasant surprise to hear a gospel album open not with the usual jarring sonic blast but with the gentle notes of a piano supporting a sensitive soprano voice. Such is the introduction to Jason Clayborn and the Atmosphere Changers’ God Made it Beautiful. The soprano happens to be Najiya Clayborn, the daughter of Jason Clayborn, the GRAMMY-nominated songwriter and native of Kentucky perhaps best known for writing Hezekiah Walker’s “Better” and Ricky Dillard ...

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“Lift Every Voice and Sing” – Brandon Camphor & OneWay

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” Brandon Camphor & OneWay The OneWay Movement (release date: June 4, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Washington, DC metro-based gospel vocal ensemble Brandon Camphor & OneWay (BC1Way) has released this brief but transcendent version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in honor of Black Music Month and Juneteenth. The harmonies are rich and complex, with hints of the Take 6 sound. It is an excellent arrangement for choruses and small groups alike. See the video here:

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 14, 2021

“Thank You”Rufus JohnsonMiddle Boy Media (release date: July 19, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Rufus Johnson, a native of Richmond, Virginia, expresses his gratitude to God on “Thank You” with a pocketful of shoulder-shaking beats and an R&B melody that is as fresh as right now. Johnson’s gratefulness for making it through the rough patches serves as the backdrop of this compelling, memorable, and expertly-produced song. Simple and effective in delivering its message. A Stellar-nominated singer-songwriter and music educator, Rufus Johnson was once a member of the male gospel group G.I. He co-wrote and sang on two of the group’s ...

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“In Jesus’ Name” – BeBe Winans

“In Jesus’ Name” BeBe Winans From the Malaco Music Group / Regimen Records CD Need You www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich A repetitive riff played on an old upright piano drives a swaying gospel waltz tempo on BeBe Winans’ latest single, “In Jesus’ Name.” To a sing-song melody, the song doubles as praise and a reminder of the Lord’s constancy. There’s plenty of strong vocalizing from Winans and his BGVs. From the five-star album Need You.

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“All I Am” – Taushey Sias

“All I Am” Taushey Sias (release date: June 24, 2019) http://booktaushey.com/ Besides being a song of praise written in the wake of a devastating fire that left singer Taushey Sias temporarily homeless, “All I Am” has a delicate and fascinating melody made all the more richer by Sias’ elastic but not overly showy vocals. A downbeat mood complements the intimacy of the prayer-like lyrics. One gets the impression that this young lady could sing just about any kind of music. In fact, the last time JGM featured her was on its 2014 Christmas playlist, singing “Merry Christmas” with Norris J. ...

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“God Has Been So Good” – MYDASON feat. Bishop Rance Allen

“God Has Been So Good” MYDASON feat. Bishop Rance Allen Brainstorm Music Company (release date: October 18, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Bishop Rance Allen may be gone in body but his music lives on. On “God Has Been So Good,” he joins MYDASON at the lead mike, singing, shouting, and making those gut-wrenching growls that only he can do. The Prayer Garden COGIC Mass Choir of Flint, Michigan, rejoices in rich, thick harmonies as it supports both lead vocalists. The song, written and produced by Bernard Jackson Jr. and Glenn “Sweety G” Toby, has the feel of something you ...

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