Gospel Fusion

“El Shaddai” – Marjane’

“El Shaddai” Marjane Independent (release date: November 12, 2021) www.marjanemusic.com By Robert M. Marovich Who knew that the Hebrew words for Almighty God could sound so sinuous when lifted in a quiet storm jam? BET Sunday Best finalist Marjane’ (pron. Mar-ja-nay) proves it in her latest single, “El Shaddai.” The California-based vocalist of 2019’s similarly breezy “I Choose You” is known for combining praise and worship lyrics with chill music much closer to smooth jazz than gospel. “El Shaddai” expresses many names for God in a way that evokes calm winds and water. “I Choose You” remains Marjane’s finest single ...

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Harriet Fraser – Peace

Harriet Fraser Peace Independent (release date: October 8, 2021) www.harrietfraser.com By Robert M. Marovich On her brief but touchingly lovely debut album Peace, soprano Harriet Frasier harmonizes with herself, two-parts unaccompanied, a touch of echo evoking the sense of being recorded in a stone-walled cathedral instead of the California studios that served as the true sites of production. Shawn Kirchner’s ambient arrangements of a dozen folk songs, classical pieces, and sacred fare are designed to lull the listener into a state of relaxation, calmness, peacefulness. Delivered with Fraser’s soothing voice(s), the album delivers on its premise. Of the sacred selections, ...

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“Praise Him” – Mud Morganfield

“Praise Him”Mud MorganfieldDelmark Records (release date: August 20, 2021)www.delmark.com By Robert M. Marovich Although Chicago’s Delmark Records is best known for its estimable blues and jazz catalogues, there’s a sacred single in the mix, brought to you by a most surprising source: Mud Morganfield, the eldest son of electric blues pioneer Muddy Waters. Expressing the religious experience in his own way, Morganfield conjures “Praise Him” as a hoodoo brew built on a pinch of blues, a dollop of gospel, and a generous scoop of Memphis-style soul. A salvation story sets the scene for this haunting praise song. Morganfield participates in ...

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“Spirit Tell Me” – Cecily

“Spirit Tell Me” Cecily Harmonious Grits LLC (release date: November 11, 2020) www.cecilymusic.com By Robert M. Marovich More of a quiet storm R&B song than a gospel tune in feel though not in lyric, “Spirit Tell Me” explores the anxiety felt in the midst of trouble, and the confidence that comes with letting go and trusting the Spirit to do the guiding. To a swirl of strings, pregnant pauses, a delicate melody, and in a voice that registers pure wonder, Cecily prays the lyrics of a song that sounds written for Minnie Riperton. The singer’s vulnerability is evident throughout. The ...

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Jon Scott – “Freedom – A New Jerusalem”

“Freedom – A New Jerusalem” Jon Scott From the Brown Babes EP Freedom – A New Jerusalem (release date: November 17, 2020) Jon Scott, a London-based singer-songwriter (and first cousin to international singing star Seal), wrote “Freedom – A New Jerusalem” in response to President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. The murder of George Floyd only amplified Scott’s anger. With elements of Afrobeat and a U2-esque world pop sensibility, the title track of Scott’s four-track EP is an explicit call on the international community to break down the dividing walls and ...

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“Meet Me Where I’m At” – Trampolines

“Meet Me Where I’m At” Trampolines (release date: April 22, 2020) By Bob Marovich Bristling with hip hop beats and bubbly blasts of EDM, “Meet Me Where I’m At” is a pleading prayer from a troubled disciple who seeks God’s guidance and love, only to discover that both are anywhere and everywhere. Musician/Stuntman/Dancer/Global raconteur Lane Terzieff (Lancifer) and his wife, Cary Terzieff (OhFrikk), aka Trampolines, wrote the song together while in Cambodia doing mission work among victims of sex trafficking. The accompanying video was filmed in Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Trampolines are a Christian Pop/EDM/Hip-Hop worship band based in Los Angeles. ...

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Michelle David & the Gospel Sessions: Vol. 4

Michelle David & the Gospel Sessions Vol. 4 MDGS Records (release date: March 6, 2020) http://michelledavidandthegospelsessions.com/ By Bob Marovich If you didn’t know better, you’d think that the fourth volume of songs by Michelle David & the Gospel Sessions is a long lost vinyl album from the 1970s, but it’s as recent as today’s breakfast. The disc reunites David, born and educated in New York and living in Holland since 1994, with Holland multi-instrumentalists Onno Smit, Toon Oomen, and Paul Willemsen. The album follows and responds to a series of highs and lows for the aggregation. Highs: Volume 3 earned ...

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“Just One Plague” – Esther Igbekele JP

“Just One Plague” Esther Igbekele JP By Bob Marovich To my knowledge, Nigerian gospel singer Esther Igbekele is the first music minister to release a song about COVID-19. Set to a buoyant West African rhythm, “Just One Plague” is a folk ballad that chronicles the impact Coronavirus has had on the world. Schools are closed. Businesses are closed. Sports are postponed. Economies are stalled. Governments are humbled. People need to stay a meter apart. Most astonishingly, she points out, the virus has also forced calm in the midst of international violence and political unrest. Ultimately, however, Igbekele commands the virus ...

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Elain Thomas – About That Life: Healing and Restoration, Volume 1

Elain Thomas About That Life: Healing and Restoration, Volume 1 (release date: June 18, 2019) By Bob Marovich Elain Thomas’s About That Life: Healing and Restoration, Volume 1 is a concept album of introspective and ostensibly autobiographical selections. The songs’ lyrics of praise and worship are not generalities; they hint at Thomas’s gratitude for overcoming real-life tribulations. The relaxed mood, on the other hand, suggests that Thomas is able to step back and reflect on how she got to rather than still working her way through. References to personal trials and joys are heard most explicitly on “So Much.” Thomas ...

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Whosoever South – Backroads & Small Towns

Whosoever Sourh Backroads & Small Towns Pit Bull Productions (release date: October 3, 2019) www.whosoeversouth.com By Bob Marovich Backroads & Small Towns, the new album by Whosoever South, the self-proclaimed “country crunk” trio from Southeast Georgia, pulls few punches as it expresses quintessentially American Christian values like hard work, faith in God, righteous living, and believing in the Golden Rule and the rule of law. Like a faith-based version of the country superband Alabama, the trio of husband-and-wife team Rowdy and Sarah Eunice, and Mike Mitchell adopts socially-conservative allegiances to southern mores in “Georgia,” and in the swampy “That’s Country,” ...

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