Contemporary Gospel

Sharon Moore – Jesus Wants to Bless You

Sharon Moore Jesus Wants to Bless You Heavenly Calm Records By Bob Marovich Those who attended the 2016 Rhythm of Gospel Awards weekend in Memphis, Tennessee, heard the singer and songwriter Sharon Moore perform “Jesus Wants to Bless You,” the title track of her latest album, in a number of showcases. With a beat and melody evocative of A Taste of Honey’s 1978 disco hit, “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” Moore sings that Jesus doesn’t just want to bless you, he wants to “press down, shake it together” your blessings.  That’s the songs hook.  So many blessings you won’t have room to ...

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“When I Stopped Playing with Jesus” – LaTonya Earl

“When I Stopped Playing with Jesus” LaTonya Earl (private release, 2014) To purchase a copy, email Latonyaearl1@gmail.com Houston gospel singer LaTonya Earl gets transparent on “When I Stopped Playing with Jesus.” After “playing with,” or not fully accepting, the Lord, Earl “plants her feet” in church and sees the light. She cleverly interpolates the gospel hymns “I Saw the Light” and “Jesus, the Light of the World” to reaffirm her conversion message. The handclapping rhythm and whirling organ give the song a traditional feel, and a call-and-response with the background vocalists is like a quartet vamp, but an R&B bounce throughout ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 6, 2017

“God’s FreqWincey” Wincey From God’s FreqWincey (released in 2015) www.winceycomusic.com On her new single, “God’s FreqWincey,” Wincey Terry-Bryant plays off her first name to testify about how prayer gives her a clearer focus on her past, present, and future. The song has a breezy California vibe and Wincey’s singing has the light touch of fellow Newark native Dionne Warwick. Wincey has healthy doses of performing experience, having worked in the television and film industries, and even recorded with jazz great Grover Washington Jr. Being on “God’s FreqWincey” certainly enables Wincey to do plenty of important work. She runs a nonprofit called Nanababies ...

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“My Brothers” – Brotha Mike

“My Brothers” Brotha Mike From the EP Second Chance (released December 2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/brothamike1 Gospel music is made for such a time as this. On “My Brothers,” Detroit’s Brotha Mike defends those who haven’t had the same opportunities as others and those who deserve a second chance. “They didn’t make us,” he sings, “so they can’t break us.” As a saxophone wails and the arrangement gets progressively bluesier, Brotha Mike moves from empathy to encouragement: “Keep your head high / You don’t have to look down.” By the end, he is enjoining everyone to come together “to make a better world.” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 30, 2017

“I Got Out” Bryan Popin Little Boy Wonder Music (release date: January 15, 2017) www.bryanpopin.com Dubbed “Little Boy Wonder” by Stevie Wonder, gospel artist Bryan Popin infuses”I Got Out” with a Pentecostal-flavored explosion of gratitude to God for helping him escape his personal trials.  Popin assures that God will help you out of your “going through,” also. The single is reminiscent of the traditional-meets-contemporary blend of “Alright” and “Thank You Jesus” from Popin’s 2013 album, You Can Make It. From an old-school congregational singalong opening to its evangelist-on-fire vamp, “I Got Out” rocks so hard, it burns to a crisp, ...

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Kinsmen: Creating Family Harmony

By Bob Marovich From their genesis in the Vasser Family basement to their forthcoming debut as television actors, the men of Kinsmen demonstrate how a family that sings together stays together. Around 1985, Robert Vasser, a member of Rev. Dr. Clay Evans’ Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, gathered his sons Kevin and Keith and their first cousins, Van Moody and Reggie Tillman, to try their hand at gospel singing. The quartet of young men stood in the Vasser basement and worked on emulating one of Robert’s favorite groups, the Mighty Clouds of Joy. “We started singing around the record player,” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 23, 2017

“No Rivals” Alyce Metallo www.AlyceMetallo.com Available at digital outlets Singing “My heart is yours / There are no rivals / You have no rivals, Jesus,” Alyce Metallo makes it clear who holds her heart for real. The pop melody is equal parts solemn and ear candy. It benefits from a soaring production courtesy of Nathan Walter, formerly of the Christian band Plus One. Metallo, a Washington, DC, singer-songwriter, wrote this song after the loss of her father, who disappeared on the snowy streets of DC for ten days and did not survive the cold.  It served as both catharsis and ...

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Monae Miller – #ForeverAlive (EP)

Monae Miller #ForeverAlive (EP) Monae Miller Music www.monaemillermusic.com By Bob Marovich The writer Anton Chekhov admonished his fellow writers: “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” This quote hung in the air while I was reviewing Kansas-born and Texas-based singer-songwriter Monae Miller’s #ForeverAlive EP. The photo on the front and back covers, as well as photos within the CD booklet, show her holding a guitar. So I anticipated that ...

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Kenneth Wilson Chorale – Incorruptible Seed

Kenneth Wilson Chorale Incorruptible Seed Love Records (release date: January 1, 2017) http://kennethwilsonchorale.hearnow.com By Bob Marovich Drawing from 1 Peter 1:23 for its title, Incorruptible Seed is the latest album from Detroit’s Kenneth Wilson Chorale, a group that demonstrates high-level vocal training in its easy, controlled delivery. Wilson’s songs—he wrote all the selections—append messages of hope and encouragement to mid-tempo contemporary gospel choir music. The album’s thematic premise of God’s constancy for His people is condensed in the opening track, “I’ve Got Jesus.” This rhythmic, mid-tempo cut points to the primacy of Jesus as all anyone needs to weather a ...

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Riverside SDA Church: The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion

Riverside SDA Church The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion G.Favored Entertainment Group/DREAM Gospel/ Capitol Christian Distribution www.RiversideNashville.org By Bob Marovich While gospel music is most often associated with Baptist and Pentecostal/Holiness churches, the Black Seventh Day Adventist Church, as just about all African American denominations by this point, has embraced the rhythm of gospel music. Riverside SDA in Nashville is no different. Founded in 1945, the church has grown from 26 members to a congregation that fills a sizable sanctuary on the banks of the Cumberland River. The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion is a two-CD set that offers a hefty ...

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