Contemporary Gospel

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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Various Artists: Motown Gospel Presents 1 Mic 1 Take

Various Artists Motown Gospel Presents 1 Mic 1 Take Motown Gospel (release date: June 3, 2016) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Imagine having one shot at getting it right in front of The Microphone in one of the most iconic recording studios in America: Capitol Studios in Hollywood, California. It is not unlike having one turn at bat at Yankee Stadium and the fans are expecting an out-of-the-park home run. Members of Motown Gospel’s current artist roster took their chances and came up with a solid third base hit on 1 Mic 1 Take. Although this album of stripped down gospel ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 5, 2016

“Closer to You” Carrington Gaines From the EP The Process (released November, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/carringtongaines Cut from the same musical mold as current gospel vocalists Jonathan McReynolds and Travis Greene, Carrington Gaines offers “Closer to You.” It’s an introspective ballad led by acoustic guitar and propelled by a delicate finger-popping beat. At one point, the song possesses the lyrical and melodic gravitas of a hymn.  At other times, it unfolds like an informal prayer closet conversation. Throughout, Gaines declares that he will seek restoration of his connection with God after a past marked by separation. A native of Buffalo, New York, ...

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Livre’ – Jericho: The Tribe of Joshua

Livre’ Jericho: The Tribe of Joshua Glory 2 Glory Records / MBK Records / Sony RED Association Labels (release date: May 20, 2016) By Bob Marovich If part of today’s political rhetoric is about building walls, Livre’ is about knocking them down. Eliminating life’s barriers is the premise of the group’s sonically delightful Jericho: The Tribe of Joshua. At times, the five-member power vocal group from the Bronx (their name is pronounced LIVE-ray and means “free” in Latin) delivers its message in bright, optimistic tones, and at other times, it speaks from a relatable vulnerability. Regardless, the group argues that ...

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Domonique Mitchell Presents Inspiration Music for the Soul, Vol. 1

Various Artists Domonique Mitchell Presents Inspiration Music for the Soul, Vol. 1 Gospel Rhythm (release date: April 29, 2016) Available from digital media stores By Bob Marovich Presented in the guise of a gospel radio program hosted by the smooth-voiced DJ Mac Cummings, Domonique Mitchell Presents Inspiration Music for the Soul, Vol. 1 is a mixtape that surveys independent artists working in several subgenres—from contemporary gospel and urban contemporary to Christian hip hop and traditional. Mitchell has a fascinating background. His career includes A&R work for Coastal Records and Sounds of Atlanta /Universal Records, project coordinator and co-producer of BET’s ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 13, 2016

“Glory to the Lamb” Micah Stampley From the Interface Entertainment album To the King. . .Vertical Worship Live www.micahstampley.org I recognize that “Glory to the Lamb” is not the current single from Micah Stampley’s latest album—that honor belongs to the equally persuasive “Be Lifted”—but nevertheless, it is one of Stampley’s best selections since his cover of “Come to Jesus.” The song demonstrates his passionate singing better than any other track on the album. With instrumentation held to a minimum and the vocals set at high intensity, “Glory to the Lamb” is exactly the kind of song we anticipate from Stampley. It ...

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