Gospel Music

JGM Pick of the Week: October 13, 2020

“Your Love Is” People of the Earth WeArePOTE Records (release date: September 18, 2020) www.wearepote.com By Bob Marovich The pop-flavored “Your Love Is” draws on metaphors from nature to describe the beauty and the promises of the Lord. The five-piece ensemble People of the Earth demonstrates its eclectic musical inspirations in abundance, as the song could easily air on American Top 40 and nobody would bat an eye. The music and melody are as sunny and optimistic as the message. If ever there was a Christian song that could also be categorized as a summer anthem, it’s “Your Love Is.” ...

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Chosen Vessel – Marvin Sapp

Marvin Sapp Chosen Vessel RCA Inspiration / Verity (release date: October 9, 2020) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Every successive Marvin Sapp solo album release after 2007’s Gold-certified Thirsty, with its blockbuster hit, “Never Would Have Made It,” has assumed something of Major Event status. Here I Am (2010), with its hit “The Best In Me;” I Win (2012); You Shall Live (2015); and Close (2017) received widespread attention and each ultimately hit number one. So no pressure on Chosen Vessel, Sapp’s twelfth solo release, dropped last Friday. Produced by Aaron Lindsey and Myron Butler, Chosen Vessel was recorded at Sapp’s ...

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“Glory” – Detroit Youth Choir feat. IndigoYaj

“Glory” Detroit Youth Choir feat. IndigoYaj (release date: July 13, 2020) www.detroityouthchoir.org By Bob Marovich From the 2014 film Selma, “Glory” is an ideal piece to sing for choruses everywhere, and especially youth ensembles like the fifty-plus member Detroit Youth Choir, which retains the song’s inspirational soul while foregrounding its sobering message of inequality. Rap interludes from former DYC member IndigoYaj update the original by expressing the anxieties of COVID-19 and righteous anger over the persistence of racism. The choir received a shout out from none other than John Legend, who co-wrote “Glory” with Common and Rhymefest. The DYC puts ...

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Christian Music’s Top Singing Groups Unite For a Ground-Breaking Collaboration

Southern Gospel’s Legacy Five and Gospel’s The Wardlaw Brothers Unite For “9 Makes Us 1” Nashville, TN — Legacy Five and The Wardlaw Brothers are two groups, from two genres of music traditionally separated more often by race than by the style of music. Legacy Five is in Southern Gospel which consists of predominantly white artists. The Wardlaw Brothers are in Gospel which is made up of predominantly black artists. It is understood that music is divided into genres for industry cataloging purposes and creative stylistic referencing. But music too often has a racial divide that supersedes creative content. The ...

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Elder Randall Ogans Sr. – What a Friend

Elder Randall Ogans Sr. What a Friend Alpha 7 Ministries (release date: October 1, 2020) www.alpha7.org By Bob Marovich Elder Randall Ogans Sr.’s What a Friend contains classic hymns bathed in smooth instrumental arrangements. Well, almost. “We Need to Pray” is the one and only track with lyrics or, more specifically, a spoken word meditation by Elder Ogans. Over the melody of the Lords of Harmony’s 1965 single, “If God Gave Us Everything,” Ogans shares a real-life parable about a homeless shelter to remind listeners that there but for the grace of God go we. Otherwise, it’s instrumental jazz played ...

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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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