Gospel Music

Brian Courtney Wilson – Still

Brian Courtney Wilson Still Motown Gospel (release date: October 16, 2020) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Whether its messages are explicit or implicit, gospel music at its finest tells listeners of all beliefs—and even those with no belief—that hope is a beacon in the midst of hopelessness, encouragement exists for the discouraged, and comfort is available for the discomforted. Hope, encouragement, and comfort are in abundance on Still, GRAMMY-nominated Brian Courtney Wilson’s fifth and latest album. Its eight radio-sized and biblically-based songs are reassuring shoulder rubs, made all the more so by Wilson’s easy-on-the-ears baritone. For example, the contemplative title track ...

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Benita Jones Survives Car Accident

From a press release: Praise & Worship recording artist Benita Jones (formerly Benita Washington), has a testimony to share. Last week, the car that she and her manager, Jarita Jackson, were riding in was broadsided by a teenager. The impact was so strong that the car literally flipped over and was totaled. “Benita recently wanted to start learning the piano,” Jackson says. “We were on our way back from going to a music store to buy a keyboard and the car was t-boned. We literally crawled out of the car and we were helped by some bystanders. The miracle is ...

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David Billingsley – Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room

David Billingsley Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room Intersound (release date: May 15, 2020) www.billingsleymusic.com By Bob Marovich Having reviewed pianist David Billingsley’s second album, House of David, Volume One, JGM now works backwards to review his debut, Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room. A musician and arts educator, Billingsley dives into the hymnbook as if he’s heard and performed these songs his whole life, which of course he has. He imbues the timeless melodies with the respect and dignity they deserve, accentuating them deftly rather than obscuring them with an overabundance of runs and ornamentation. That’s not to say that Billingsley ...

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Chicagoan Lonnie Norwood Jr. Teaches “The Gospel Essentials” to Youth Nationwide

By Bob Marovich Earlier this year, the Chicago Children’s Choir was busy coordinating some 5,000 youth meeting in various in-school and after-school ensembles throughout the region. The sound of song was in the air everywhere. Then COVID-19 happened. Choirs became potential virus spreaders. Everything moved to virtual learning. CCC launched the online Arts Enrichment Sessions to keep its youth engaged during the pandemic and to impact young people ages 8 to 18 nationwide. “The Gospel Essentials” is among fourteen different arts enrichment courses from which students can choose. Taught by Chicago musician and educator Lonnie Norwood Jr., “The Gospel Essentials” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 28, 2020

“Wade in the Water” Miss Freddye MMM Records www.missfreddye.com By Bob Marovich Many know Pittsburgh’s Freddye Stover, aka Miss Freddye, as an award-winning blues singer. Her musical roots, however, run deep in the church. Miss Freddye pays tribute to her sacred foundation by releasing “Wade in the Water” as her latest single. She combines her church and blues training into a righteous reading of the folk spiritual. Assisting are vocalist Kim Parent and a musical backdrop that includes a suitably-warbling organ. You can see in your mind’s eye the Leslie speaker’s innards spinning. Produced by Mike Morgan and arranged by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 21, 2020

“I Can’t Give Up” Byron Cage From the AIR / Malaco Music Group CD Isolation www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich It turns out the title of multiple Stellar Awardee Byron Cage’s September 2019 album, Isolation, was prophetic. But on “I Can’t Give Up,” the album’s latest single release, Cage and his background vocalists declare that their present circumstances don’t define them. “I’m built to win,” Cage enthuses, singing on his own behalf as well as on behalf of the listeners. The troupe sets pulpit-honed wisdom such as “I’ve come too far” and “no weapon formed against me shall proper” to an ...

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Koryn Hawthorne – I Am

Koryn Hawthorne I Am RCA Inspiration (release date: September 18, 2020) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich I Am, the new album by Koryn Hawthorne, the award-winning gospel singer and finalist on The Voice, is as contemporary as this minute. The musical mission of her best-selling 2018 debut Unstoppable, to bathe Christian messages in an ocean of contemporary soul and R&B sounds, continues on I Am. Her vocals are just as sassy on the current single, a love song to the Most High called “Speak to Me,” as on her breakthrough hit, “Won’t He Do It.” But much of the lyrical mood ...

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PJ Morton: Gospel According to PJ

PJ Morton Gospel According to PJ Morton Inspiration / Tyscot (digital release date: August 14, 2020; physical release date: November 27, 2020) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Much is being made about Gospel According to PJ being PJ Morton’s return to gospel. But like the Reverend C. L. Franklin said of his GRAMMY-winning daughter Aretha, Bishop Paul S. Morton can say of his GRAMMY-winning son: he never really left the church. That’s because most of Gospel According to PJ is a re-introduction, in new arrangements, of sacred songs that Morton, a multi-genre musician, singer, songwriter and record producer, created for other ...

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RIP Edna Wright: Soul Singer, Member of COGICs

By Bob Marovich Professor Robert Darden of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project informed JGM of the passing of Edna Wright in Encino, California, yesterday, September 12. She was 76. Prior to her well-known work with the vocal trio Honey Cone, where she was lead singer on the group’s 1971 chart-topping hit, “Want Ads,” Wright was a member of the COGICs, a mixed-voice gospel group formed by Andrae’ Crouch. In addition to Wright, members of the COGICs included Crouch and his twin sister, Sandra, as well as Sondra “Heartaches” Williams and Gloria Jones (Jones would also go on to stardom ...

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“Bow Down” – Christina Bell

“Bow Down” Christina Bell From the Malaco CD For His Glory www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich It’s not easy being the psalm to follow the popular Psalm 23 (“The Lord is My Shepherd”). Nevertheless, Psalm 24 has plenty of wonderful imagery to offer and Christina Bell must agree. The former Z’iel member sets its opening lines to a bracing P&W rhythm on her new single, “Bow Down.” From Bell’s September 2019 debut album for Malaco Music Group, “Bow Down” is the kind of aerobic selection frequently employed today to open worship services. Though Bell’s contralto has plenty of depth and shading, ...

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