Gospel Fusion

Christafari – Original Love

Christafari Original Love Lion of Zion Entertainment (release date: April 13, 2018) www.christafari.com By Bob Marovich Toward the end of Original Love, Christafari’s seventh consecutive album to debut at #1 on the Billboard reggae charts, we hear the gospel reggae band’s founder and lead vocalist, Pastor Mark Mohr, offer his testimony. Although he grew up in a religious household, the teenaged Mohr turned to drugs and alcohol, started to sell marijuana, and eventually ended up living on the street. At rock bottom and nowhere to go but up, he had an encounter with God. It turned his life around. Since ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 9, 2018

“Believe” Ese-Osa April Sound https://www.facebook.com/eseosamusic/ By Bob Marovich The gospel artist formerly known as Liosa offers “Believe,” a lovely ballad of personal encouragement sung as part prayer and part soaring affirmation. To a lilting piano, Ese-Osa’s beguiling alto delivers her hopeful message with dead-on conviction and apexes with a range-extending shout. Ese-Osa, christened Osasuyi Deborah Esosa, hails from Edo State in southern Nigeria. After joining the Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical Students choir, she helped the troupe record its first album by writing most of the selections. By 2008, she launched her solo career and since then has garnered two South-South ...

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Nine Beats Collective – Nine Beats to the Bar

Nine Beats Collective Nine Beats to the Bar Plankton Records (release date: June 16, 2017) www.9beats.org By Bob Marovich Nine Beats Collective is an assembly of musicians, songwriters, composers, singers, and poets who represent three continents and contribute different musical styles, but have one thing in common: healing the world from the inside out. A product of their efforts, Nine Beats to the Bar, is as singular in its motive as it is variable in its sound. While gospel music elements are present on the Reverend Vince Anderson’s “#blessed,” the sound shuffles, track by track, between jazz, classical, R&B, spoken word, and pop music. On the other hand, the message ...

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“Benediction” – The Paula Boggs Band

“Benediction” The Paula Boggs Band From the CD Elixir: The Soulgrass Sessions (release date: September 15, 2017) www.paulaboggsband.net By Bob Marovich Seattle’s Paula Boggs penned “Benediction” in the aftermath of the racist-fueled shooting that ended the lives of nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The song expresses her grief over the tragedy and her desire for a productive end to the divisiveness and violence that have scarred the United States for centuries. Boggs, who in addition to being a guitar-wielding singer-songwriter, is an Army veteran and a former general counsel for Starbucks and Assistant U.S. Attorney for ...

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n•i•a•s•h•a – Gospel Mixtape Vol. 5

n•i•a•s•h•a Gospel Mixtape Vol. 5 Loveworld Life (released in August 2016) hulkshare.com/niashaMawerez By Bob Marovich If you need confirmation that gospel music is an international phenomenon, n•i•a•s•h•a’s Gospel Mixtape Vol. 5 is proof that praising God in song is global. Snippets of music from U.S. artists such as Tasha Cobbs, James Fortune, Zacardi Cortez, and California’s Jesus Culture can be heard alongside songs by a handful of artists you’ve probably never heard of, but should. By and large, the other artists represent Nigeria and South Africa, and while they sing in English, they frequently incorporate other languages into the lyrics. ...

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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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withLove (self-titled)

withLove withLove (released October 15, 2016) https://withlovemusic.bandcamp.com/album/withlove-deluxe-edition By Bob Marovich It is appropriate to begin 2017 with a post about a group that has love in its name and sings about love. A love of God, a love for God, and a love for all of God’s creation frame the self-titled debut by Baltimore’s multicultural ensemble withLove. In addition to music, withLove, formed by David Warren in 2013, holds “Love Projects” around the Baltimore area, where they serve the sick and shut-in and feed the homeless. withLove, the album and group, offer an eclectic mix of symphonic CCM, rock (progressive ...

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Belle Carmen – Love, Dreams & the Space Between

Belle Carmen Love, Dreams & the Space Between Chrispel Records (2016) www.bellecarmensplace.com By Bob Marovich Part song, part spoken word, and part instrumental, Belle Carmen’s Love, Dreams & the Space Between chronicles the ebbs and flows of her love story with Jesus Christ. Unlike some sacred love songs, there is no ambiguity about the object of Belle’s love focus. It’s Jesus, who is perfect.  She (and by extension, we), the imperfect and flawed, struggles to maintain her part of the bargain. At the same time, Belle wants to do better, and she articulates this in song on “Love You Right” and “Good ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 17, 2016

“Give Thanks” Doe Jones (release date: October 20, 2016) www.doeforeverjones.com Listeners will be familiar with Dominique “Doe” Jones from the family band foreverJONES, for whom she co-wrote and sang the hit single, “He Wants It All.” There’s much more to this singer-songwriter and musician, and if listeners didn’t figure it out with her outstanding power pop-inspirational “Most of All” (from foreverJONES’ Musical Revival), her latest solo single, “Give Thanks,” provides ample demonstration of her unfiltered, untampered-with talent. The song’s self-confident expression of gratitude for victory through God is buoyed by an acoustic funky soul evocative of Corinne Bailey Rae and ...

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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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