Gospel Fusion

JGM Pick of the Week: November 16, 2015

“Up and Praise Em” Judah Band Xist Music (2015) www.xistmusic.com It’s hard not to be drawn in by the irresistible polyrhythms and the shoulder-rolling zoot suit feel of this mid-tempo rouser by the Judah Band. The lyrics are a simple call to get on one’s feet and praise, but the music all but compels one to clap hands and start moving in the spirit. Hailing from Indiana, the Judah Band looks for all the world like a Christian version of P-Funk, and bends music genres with the same brashness as George Clinton and company.  The Judah Band was founded in ...

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Howard Ziwa – Dawn

Howard Ziwa Dawn – Volume 1 www.ziwamusic.com By Bob Marovich Howard Ziwa’s Dawn—I’m tempted to call it an EP because it has eight tracks and weighs in at under thirty minutes—has its high points and low points. Let’s start with the high points. The EP’s finest selections, “Alele” and “Let It Be,” are fueled by the brisk polyrhythms, vertical praise lyrics, and instrumental sensibilities of the gospel music from Ziwa’s native Africa (he was born in Kampala, Uganda). Those familiar with African gospel music know that it is often ignited by insistent drums and an ostinato riff on keyboard or ...

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Eagle Rock Gospel Singers – Heavenly Fire

Eagle Rock Gospel Singers Heavenly Fire Ba Da Bing (release date: August 7, 2015) www.ergospelsingers.com By Bob Marovich What originated as a group of friends jamming on old gospel songs distilled into the five-member Eagle Rock Gospel Singers. The Los Angeles group’s full-length debut, Heavenly Fire, declares their earthy conviction for true living through details of personal struggles and Bible tales that sound ripped from the pages of William Faulkner. The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers blend alt-country, rockabilly, and gospel into a mix somewhere between Wilco, Neko Case, and the Staple Singers. At the same time, the group’s expansive, extroverted harmonies, fronted by ...

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The Gospel Music of Jonathan McReynolds: “Different Sound, Same Heart”

By Bob Marovich “I always did love music,” Jonathan McReynolds told the Journal of Gospel Music, “but I don’t think I ever envisioned a music career to come out of it.” Nevertheless, McReynolds, a rising star on the gospel music circuit, is poised to release his sophomore album, Life Music: Stage Two (eOne, Tehillah Music Group), on September 18, 2015. Raised on Chicago’s South Side, McReynolds attended the New Original Church of God in Christ on East 78th Street, where Thomas Jackson Jr. is Pastor. Coming from a musical family, McReynolds began playing drums, keyboards, and organ around the age of five ...

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Funmilayo Ngozi – Unconstrained

Funmilayo Ngozi Unconstrained Unconstrained Music (2015) www.funmilayongozi.com By Bob Marovich A cursory look at Nigerian singer Funmilayo Ngozi’s name might suggest that her music is steeped in the African gospel tradition. In actuality, Ngozi lives in Augusta, Georgia, and studied and is a music educator in the U.S.  She served as a background vocalist on Trey McLaughlin & Sounds of Zamar’s Limitless album and the Beulah Grove Baptist Church’s Live at the Grove CD. Ngozi’s debut solo album, Unconstrained, is true to its title in more ways than one.  Although the title refers to unfettered worship and praise, the songs are ...

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Robert E. Person – Love Divine

Robert E. Person Love Divine REP Music (2015) www.roberteperson.com By Bob Marovich The first thing you notice when listening to Robert E. Person’s new album, Love Divine, is the bigness of the singer’s voice. It’s Broadway musical big, regardless of whether Person is summoning deep bass notes or launching into falsetto. His repertory reflects his vocal blend, a veritable consommé of jazz, pop, gospel, and classical influences. On Love Divine, his fourth album, Person celebrates the sacredness of love, mankind’s most essential but most misunderstood emotion. The album’s dozen selections come from the pens of talented songwriters—from Allyn Johnson’s ethereal ...

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Audrey Cher Steps Out in Her Destiny

By Bob Marovich When Audrey Cher was born, her parents wanted to make certain her name meant something in the entertainment industry. So they called her Audrey after Audrey Hepburn and Cher for, well…Cher. “I’m walking in my name,” gospel singer and recording artist Audrey Cher told JGM last week. Born in Mount Clemens, Michigan, a town that once drew Hollywood celebrities to its mineral bathhouses, Audrey moved to Detroit, where she attended Bishop G. M. Boone’s New Liberty Apostolic Faith Church. There, she sang in the choir and at thirteen, joined the praise team. It would be another four years ...

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Damien Sneed on the Links Between Classical and Gospel Music

JGM‘s Bob Marovich talks with the multi-talented Damien Sneed about his new CD, Broken to Minister – Deluxe Edition (release date: March 3), his appearance with Wynton Marsalis on the PBS program, “Everyone Has a Place,” spotlighting the Abyssinian Mass, his directorial debut at Carnegie Hall, and the relationship of classical and gospel music. Damien provides a music workshop in fifteen minutes!

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Liz Vice – There’s a Light

Liz Vice There’s A Light Deeper Well Records (2014) http://deeper-well.com/artists/liz-vice/ By Bob Marovich Liz Vice may not sound like your average gospel singer, but then again, she’s not your average gospel singer. On her CD, There’s a Light, the Portland, Oregon-based singer delivers personal inspirational messages to God and to the listener with the raw intensity of Mavis Staples and the soulful confidence of Norah Jones. The album’s ten songs are fresh and inviting, the lyrics poetic, the small band tight and suited to Vice’s voice like bacon to eggs, and the trimmed-down arrangements are like long lost tapes straight ...

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