Contemporary Gospel

“Holy” – Donnell Russell

“Holy” Donnell Russell From the forthcoming EP Life’s Anthem www.donnellrussell.com An independent artist from New Orleans, Donnell “D’Russ” Russell has stepped out on his own after a decade of working with choirs, groups, and other artists, most notably with Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith. Russell’s second solo single, “Holy,” is a mid-tempo Rhythm & Praise anthem on which he and his background vocalists get into call-and-response mode to lavish praises on the Savior. A few bars of the classic hymn, “Holy Holy Holy,” appear toward the end. Confident singing with conviction. Ideal for worship teams.

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New Jersey’s Henry Hall Declares Dominion Over New Live Project

By Bob Marovich “I want to give people a sense of empowerment that they can do whatever it is they have in their heart to do,” Henry Hall said about the purpose of his new live recording, Declaration of Dominion. Hall might well have been talking about himself.  His own life is a lesson in striving to be all one can be. Born across the Delaware River from Philadelphia in Camden, New Jersey, Hall lost his mother when he was just eleven years old. By age twelve, he and the rest of his family started attending church. Their worship home was ...

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Anthony Faulkner – Guardian Angel

Anthony Faulkner Guardian Angel 7TH Chapter Music (2016) www.afaulkner.com By Bob Marovich It’s no surprise that Angela Winbush of 1980s R&B vocal duo Rene’ and Angela makes a vocal appearance on “Closer,” a song on Anthony Faulkner’s new album, Guardian Angel. Faulkner considers her his personal guardian angel. He told the Journal of Gospel Music how he met the popular singer at his church or, rather, how she met him: “[Angela] didn’t know me from any of the other kids, but she walked up to me at church one day and asked me, ‘Do you like music?’ She challenged me to go ...

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Karlos Nichols – Live in Memphis: Hope! with The Covenant

Karlos Nichols Live in Memphis: Hope! With The Covenant The Kane Group (release date: August 16, 2016) Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Live in Memphis: Hope! is the debut album by Karlos Nichols, a Memphian who received his music education in New York City and came home to impact his community as a preacher, educator, songwriter, singer, director, musician, and clinician. Covenant is a small mixed choir that ably supports Nichols on this album of mostly original songs (all but one was written or co-written by Nichols). One Covenant member in particular, Britne’ Brown-Lauderdale, is a classic squaller. Her work ...

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“You Were There” – Henry Hall and New Dimension Worshippers

“You Were There” Henry Hall and New Dimension Worshippers Rebel Hill Music “You Were There,” a graceful ode of gratitude to God for His constancy, is a slow burning single by Henry Hall and New Dimension Worshippers.  The choral harmonies are reminiscent of the Hawkins Family, Thomas Whitfield, John P. Kee, and other 1970s/1980s gospel ensembles. Hall’s high tenor expresses both humble gratefulness and vulnerability as he sings about how the Savior “Dried my tear-stained eyes / Held me when I cried.” Henry Hall scored a Newsome Award and a Stellar Award nomination nearly a decade ago for his vocal ...

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Summer – Love Letters

Summer Love Letters Rich Life Records (2016) www.summerofficialpage.com By Bob Marovich “I’m in love with Jesus / The greatest love I’ve known; For even when I’ve left you / You claimed me as your own.” Thus sings Summer Pearson, aka Summer, on “Key To My Heart,” one of eight selections on her debut solo release, Love Letters. True to its title, the album features worship songs disguised as love letters to the Lord. The letters vary from gushing and wide-eyed infatuation, as on the breezy and acoustic “The Real Thing” and “Love You Like Crazy,” to the more dramatic and ...

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“Because of Who You Are” – Sounds of Imani

“Because of Who You Are” Sounds of Imani Heaven-Wings Records (release date: October 21, 2016) www.soundsofimani.com Recording as the Sounds of Imani, Gerald and Carol Ervin have released their debut single, “Because of Who You Are,” a tuneful praiser that features the husband-wife team’s fine solo and duet vocalizing. Carol’s soprano is so reminiscent of Stylistics lead singer Russell Thompkins Jr. that this song sounds decidedly Philly, although the Ervins are from Detroit. The single also has an early Hawkins Family feel in its soft R&B tones, light tempo, and breezy ensemble harmonies. This all makes sense when one considers that ...

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Trish Standley – No One Else

Trish Standley No One Else Jan’s Joy Ministries (2016) www.trishstandley.com By Bob Marovich The starting salvo of gospel singer and fashionista Trish Standley’s new album, No One Else, is refreshing in its simplicity. There are no anthemic trumpeting synths, no declarative shouts of “C‘mon and put your hands together,” both of which introduce too many gospel albums these days. Instead, Standley’s opener, “Again I Worship,” is a peaceful piano-dominated praiser that gives her room to exercise her girlish soprano. Reprising the airy introduction is the title track, written by Tiffanie Barnes, with its sweetly sung melody and humble plaudits to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 7, 2016

“Escaped to Tell” Blanche McAllister-Dykes From the Escaped To Tell Movie Soundtrack www.escapedtotell.com Sung by Blanche McAllister-Dykes, whose vocal vulnerability gives the song the feel of a church testimony, “Escaped to Tell” is the title track of a Christian-themed film by songwriter and author, Nefateri Smalls, who co-wrote the song with Chad Chambers. An alumna of Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers, McAllister-Dykes builds from victim to victorious to advocate through a steadily building passion that is echoed by her background vocalists. By the conclusion, she is shouting praises to God for bringing her through the emotional pain of domestic violence ...

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Candi Staton – It’s Time to Be Free

Candi Staton It’s Time to Be Free Beracah Records (release date: July 22, 2016) www.candi-staton.com By Bob Marovich Like Mavis Staples, Canzetta “Candi” Staton made her professional music debut in the 1950s as a member of a gospel group, and later broadened her reach into popular music by employing Muscle Shoals rhythm sections. The two women, born less than a year apart, have been recharging their careers with albums that channel a wisdom and experience as evident in the muskiness of their voices as in the song lyrics. It’s Time to Be Free, Staton’s first gospel album since 2008’s I Will ...

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