Contemporary Gospel

Kimberly M. Kent – Blessed2beChosen

Kimberly M. Kent Blessed2beChosen (EP) (release date: November 11, 2017) www.kimberlymkent.com By Bob Marovich Last fall, Kimberly M. Kent, a worship leader, multi-instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter from Indianapolis, Indiana, followed her debut EP The Journey with a new EP, Blessed2beChosen. On this second release, Kent lends her burnished alto to a half-dozen self-penned songs containing biblically-based lyrics and appealing melodies. For example, the gently flowing opener, “I Am the Redeemed,” uses Psalms 107:2 to highlight the specialness of salvation (hence the album’s title). Christ’s death is the subject of “My Son I Give to You” and “The Debt I Owed.” Throughout the new EP, but particularly on these two ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 12, 2018

“You Will Win” Jekalyn Carr Lunjeal Music Group (release date: September 15, 2017) www.iamjekalyncarr.com By Bob Marovich Twenty-year-old singing sensation Jekalyn Carr extends her string of inspirational hit songs with “You Will Win.” Defeating the enemy means believing in God and taking control of one’s life in thought and action, Carr sings.  She and her background vocalists and musicians build the intensity of the song from melancholy introduction to dramatic denouement. “You Will Win” is among the selections on Carr’s fourth album, One Nation Under God, available February 23.

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“He Promised Me” – BeBe Winans feat. Tobbi & Tommi, Introducing Kiandra

By Bob Marovich While CeCe Winans was racking up Grammy Awards for Let Them Fall in Love, her 2017 album with the retro-looking cover, her brother and erstwhile singing partner BeBe Winans was promoting his new single, “He Promised Me.” Co-produced by Daniel Weatherspoon and featuring sister act Tobbi & Tommi and emerging soloist Kiandra (Richardson), “He Promised Me” is a song about binding what God has promised He will do with what we must believe. The ladies provide the response to BeBe’s call, their collective voices building to crescendos and then falling back obediently into place. The singular melody line feels like it ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 5, 2018

“He Knows My Name (The Worship Experience)” William H. Rainer Jr. Overboard Records (2018) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/williamhrainerjr1 By Bob Marovich On “He Knows My Name,” husky-voiced William H. Rainer Jr. expresses delight that the Savior knows his name and has brought him through “so many things” even when he has gone astray. The track goes down smooth, its vibe falling somewhere between James Cleveland and VaShawn Mitchell. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, William H. Rainer Jr. (“Rainey Jr.”) is a gospel singer, songwriter and bass player. He is praise team director for the Church of the Living God in Fairview Heights, Illinois, ...

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Morris Mingo feat. the With One Voice Ensemble: The Time of the Minstrel

Morris Mingo featuring the With One Voice Ensemble & Friends The Time of the Minstrel Moming Productions (release date: October 27, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/morrismingo By Bob Marovich The Time of the Minstrel is an independently-produced album that deserves major label attention. From the quality of its packaging and album notes to the rich mix of songs to the singers and musicians, this is an excellent project. It doesn’t always work when an artist writes all the songs for his or her project, but it does for the Ohio-based Morris Mingo, who presents many top-notch songs for soloists and choir on this ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 30, 2018

“He Saved Me” YaLonda Lolar-Johnson Thysongbird Music Group (release date: July 2017) www.thysongbird.com By Bob Marovich YaLonda Lolar-Johnson is distinctive in gospel music for hailing from two environments not particularly well known for producing many gospel artists: St. Paul, Minnesota; and the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Nevertheless, gospel is her favorite genre and on “He Saved Me,” a song written by vocal instructor Dileesa Archer, Lolar-Johnson admits she was to blame for some of the problems in her life. She also had too much pride to ask for help, so she threw herself a pity party. But out of her emotional darkness, ...

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“Hallelujah” – Ben Harrell feat. Alisha Bender

“Hallelujah” Ben Harrell feat. Alisha Bender (release date: December 10, 2017) http://www.writersfoundationllc.org/ By Bob Marovich “Hallelujah” is part confessional, part praise song, part CCM, and part gospel. In her lovely soprano, Alicia Bender, a classically-trained singer and former member of the Howard Gospel Choir, sings Ben Harrell’s hymn about the reciprocal love between God and His people. The chorus, of which the first four notes evoke Leonard Cohen’s song by the same title, is ideal for a worship team singalong. Tunesmith Harrell has also written songs demonstrated by Summer Pearson and Paul Thompson. A number of songwriters, in fact, have ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 16, 2018

“He Rose” Brent Jones From the EchoPark JDI Entertainment album Joy Comin’ (release date: August 12, 2014) By Bob Marovich Calling “He Rose” a “good old Baptist song,” Brent Jones and his choir offer a good old Easter Sunday song that works for any time of the year. This bouncy and muscular outing finds Jones leading the big-voiced choir in collective enthusiasm about Jesus’s victory over death during the Passion and, in rising, cleansing the sins of humanity. By the conclusion, Jones has the soprano, alto, and tenor sections singing in contrapuntal harmony (it’s so good they could have reprised this ...

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RIP: Edwin Hawkins, Architect of Contemporary Gospel

By Bob Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music has learned that Edwin Hawkins, whose arrangement of the nineteenth-century hymn “Oh Happy Day” became a crossover success and signaled the emergence of contemporary gospel music, passed away today (Jan. 15) in Pleasanton, California. Here is a brief biography I put together: Born August 19, 1943, to Mamie and Dan Lee Hawkins, Edwin Hawkins grew up in music. Trained by his elder brother, Edwin began playing piano at age five and accompanied the family group. By the time he was sixteen, Edwin had sung at a variety of churches in the Bay Area and was part ...

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