Contemporary Gospel

Denise Josiah – Songs For the Heart

Denise Josiah Songs For the Heart JoDah Ministries, LLC (2016) www.jodahministries.org By Bob Marovich Denise Josiah titled her debut album Songs For the Heart, but it could easily have been titled Songs From the Heart. The ten lovingly intimate sacred selections on the CD were penned or arranged over a period of more than twenty years by the singer, her husband Dr. Donnell Josiah, or written together. Born on the beautiful island of Saint Maarten but now residing in Maryland, Denise is a worship singer whose light soprano is thickened with resonant echoes of alto, no doubt the result of ...

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“I’m Good” – Ryan Rutley feat. Erica Lancaster and Jason Rutley

“I’m Good” Ryan Rutley feat. Erica Lancaster and Jason Rutley Psalms Group Studios (released April 8, 2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/ryanrutley2 When asked how they are doing, Ryan Rutley, Erica Lancaster, and Jason Rutley update the sentiment of the late Reverend Paul Jones’ “I Won’t Complain” with a simple “I’m Good.” Of course, “I’m Good” can be used to mask inner struggle and hurt, but the trio uses the response as an affirmation instead of an evasion. “I should lose my control, but I won’t,” they sing. The single’s chirpy pop sound, vivacious lead trading between the trio, and insistent electronic rhythm distinguish it ...

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Eloho – Unrestrained

Eloho Unrestrained (self released, 2016) www.elohoefemuai.co.uk By Bob Marovich Americans might be surprised to learn that there is a vibrant gospel music community in the UK. Given the way in which the music was introduced there, and when, the UK style—indeed the mode of gospel music throughout Europe and Scandinavia—has more in common with CCM and Andrae Crouch-style jazz-pop gospel than the churchy clap-and-stomp sounds of traditionalism. At the same time, it stands in refreshing contemporary contrast to the staid hymns of the Anglican Church. Case in point is Eloho Efemuai, better known simply as Eloho. The Nigerian-born worship leader ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 1, 2016

“The Master’s Calling” Deborah Joy Winans Malaco Records www.malaco.com “The Master’s Calling” by singer and actor Deborah Joy Winans is at turns haunting, electrifying, and inspiring, and quite possibly one of the best gospel songs of the year. Written by Thad Cockrell, the song opens with a solemn piano and organ and features an earnest and delicate Winans answered by a commanding gospel choir. “Listen while you still can hear / The Master’s calling.” The daughter of contemporary gospel pioneer Carvin Winans, Deborah plays Charity Greenleaf-Satterlee on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) drama, Greenleaf, from whence the song comes. Although most know ...

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Kierra Sheard’s Bridges Tour Closes Gap between “Faith and Real Life”

By Bob Marovich The intimate Mayne Stage theater on Chicago’s North Side reverberated with blasts of EDM, raucous drums, snarling electric guitar, thumping bass, chiming keyboards, and an Apple computer churning out beats like a jukebox. The vocalists had the standing room only crowd on its feet, hands waving, dancing, and offering exuberant applause after each song. I’m not describing a rock or R&B concert but the Bridges Tour, starring contemporary gospel artists Kierra Sheard, Jojo Martin, and Jor’Dan Armstrong. Singer-songwriter, recording artist, actor, fashion designer, and media presence Sheard, whose mother is Karen Clark Sheard and grandmother the late ...

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“Such a Time as This” – Bryan Popin

“Such a Time as This” Bryan Popin Little Boy Wonder Music (rel. March 2016) www.bryanpopin.com Bryan Popin, the singer who Stevie Wonder once dubbed “Little Boy Wonder,” made his national debut as a gospel singer with 2013’s You Can Make It (eOne Music). The album’s message of encouragement and hope through Jesus resurfaces on Popin’s new single, “Such a Time as This.” Backed by a vocal ensemble, Popin figuratively rests his elbows on the table to empathize with the listener. “I know you hurt,” he sings, but with Jesus on your side, you will win, because “this is your time, ...

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William Murphy – Demonstrate

William Murphy Demonstrate RCA Inspiration (released June 24, 2016) www.williammurphy.org By Bob Marovich Recorded live in May 2015, in Douglasville, Georgia, at the Church at Chapel Hill, Bishop William Murphy’s Demonstrate is a worship service in a jewel case. Murphy’s husky vocals are commanding on this buoyant album, the singer’s fifth long-playing release. Whether as singer, worship leader, or preacher, Murphy keeps the spirit high and the program rolling, even during the more introspective moments. The melodies are memorable, the lyrics are intentionally simple, the harmonies are tight and spirited, and Murphy puts his stamp on all of it by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 25, 2016

“All I Need” Ramona J. Sanders From the CD Beginning With Me www.cdbaby.com/cd/ramonajsanders Opening with a tinkling piano and a marching beat, “All I Need” finds New York singer Ramona J. Sanders rendering praises to the Most High, the only one she really needs in her life, with genuine conviction and studied vocal versatility. She is supported by treble background vocalists who help her build the song’s intensity until the moment when the spirit is the highest and praises just spill out of Sanders with gut-wrenching, no-holds-barred passion. Gospel enthusiasts may remember Sanders as a member of the Angel’lics female gospel ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 18, 2016

“More than a Conqueror” Gregory D and Company (available digitally) www.cbgministries.com During this election season, the concept of winning is tossed around like a greased football, but for Elder Gregory DeMyers Jr. (Gregory D) and his singers, winning is a far more personal, temporal, and even eternal pursuit. On the even-tempered but nonetheless passionate “More than a Conqueror,” DeMyers’ contemporary gospel ensemble Gregory D and Company sings of personal hope and encouragement in such a time as this. Drawing directly from Romans 8:37, the group proclaims that all are conquerors “through Him who loved us.” To bring it to street ...

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