Gospel Fusion

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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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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