Gospel Fusion

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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JGM Pick of the Week: June 24, 2019

“One Minute” Coleen (release date: February 5, 2019) By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Coleen’s “One Minute” is not only the first song she wrote, it is autobiographical. At a time when everything was going wrong in her life, when she couldn’t hold on for another minute, Coleen cried out to the Lord and was subsequently able to endure. That’s the message of the song, a call to all women who, like her, have suffered emotional and physical abuse: “If He did it for me, He can do it for you.” Its retro acoustic guitar sound, easy rhythm, and folksy harmonies mask ...

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Johnny Burroughs – DAY 1

Johnny Burroughs DAY 1 (release date: May 24, 2019) www.johnnyburroughsmusic.com By Bob Marovich The debut solo release by Johnny Burroughs, lead vocalist for Denver band The Burroughs, is not a romp through the “sweaty soul music” for which the band is known but a thrumming Christian album titled DAY 1. Though it would be unnatural for Burroughs to not channel some “sweaty soul” into DAY 1, he draws more heavily on his other life as a pastor and music minister. This self-penned, self-produced batch of lyrically and melodically uncomplicated songs of praise and worship invokes the sonic inventiveness of Bryan ...

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Christa Deana

Christa Deana Self-titled Hitman Records (release date: December 7, 2018) www.christadeana.com By Bob Marovich Philadelphia singer-songwriter Christa Deana (pron. Duh-nay) opens her self-titled CD with a forthright narrative about her calling, accepted at a very young age, to be a fisher of souls. But, she recounts, upon encountering one painful challenge and disappointment after another in pursuit of her calling, she almost gave up and even contemplated suicide. Angry at God for putting her in such a precarious position, she said: “I threw my Christianity on the floor and built it back up from scratch.” That made all the difference. ...

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Steven Chesne – Sapient: A Cantata of Peace

Steven Chesne Sapient: A Cantata of Peace Brahmasong Records (2017) http://www.chezworks.com/sapient.html By Bob Marovich The first thing to understand about television, film, and concert music composer Steven Chesne’s Sapient: A Cantata of Peace is that it cannot be defined as gospel music, or spirituals, or hymns, or anthems, or religious symphonic music. Nevertheless, it is sacred music in the broadest sense of the term. The nineteen meditative parts of the cantata are sung in several languages, with lyrics based on prayers, chants, and writings that represent a variety of faiths and cultures. In Chesne’s musical landscape, the Kikuyu sit with ...

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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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