Gospel Music

Ruth La’Ontra – So Good

Ruth La’Ontra So GoodTyscot Records (2013) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Ruth La’Ontra (Jones), whose debut solo album, So Good, was released on Tyscot last month, comes from solid musical stock. The twenty-one-year-old singer’s father and manager, Bishop Arvetra Jones Jr., is a popular gospel announcer on Fayetteville, North Carolina’s WFSS-FM and leader of the North Carolina Gospel Announcers Guild.  Her grandfather, Rev. Arvetra Jones Sr., recorded singles and albums for Savoy and HSE.  “Count It All Joy,” the album’s sole traditional-flavored track, pays tribute to the family’s pastoral and musical heritage.  Its bluesy riffs, rich ...

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The Best of Federal Gospel

Various Artists The Best of Federal Gospel Available at www.crystalballrecords.com(US)  or www.bim-bam.com (UK) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Nestled in Cincinnati, Ohio, which abuts the border between the North and South, Syd Nathan’s King Records was positioned perfectly to capture the diverse musical palette of post-war America. That included gospel music, as Galen Gart’s The Best of Federal Gospel reissue CD demonstrates.  A subsidiary of King, Federal Records released gospel throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, but Gart focuses the collection on 1950 to 1953, a high-water mark in the music’s evolution.  He highlights two strands that ...

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“Vessel” – Ronnette Harrison

“Vessel” Ronnette Harrison From the forthcoming album Journey (release scheduled for 2014) www.theronnetteharrison.com Maryland-based singer, musician, and songwriter Ronnette Harrison wraps her crystal clear chops around this P&W-style ballad about serving as a living vessel of God’s will.  The quality of her expansive voice is what makes this single soar. A music education major from Towson University, Harrison cut her gospel teeth as a preteen working with Shirley Ables and the Joy Gospel Singers.  She sang most recently with the Stellar Award-winning Isaiah D. Thomas & Elements of Praise and Mike McCoy & Voices United.  Journey represents her solo recording ...

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TBGB Pick of the Week: December 16, 2013

“He’s the Master”Duranice Pace From the EP Just Duranice (released December 3, 2013) www.duranicepace.org Earlier this month, Duranice Pace of the gospel singing group the Anointed Pace Sisters released a solo EP.   The single, “He’s the Master,” bounces along with handclaps and bubbly synth, but it’s Pace’s confident, evangelistic declaration of God’s omnipotence that sells the song.  That and the background vocals who chant the chorus lyrics (“He can do what He want to do / When He want to do / How He want to do/He’s the Master”) with metronomic precision.

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Live and Unplugged – Twinkie Clark

Twinkie Clark Live and Unplugged (CD/DVD) Larry Clark Music (2013) www.larryclarkgospel.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Live and Unplugged is an intimate gospel music performance by Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark and a small band of musicians.  Recorded at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright African American Museum on July 21, 2012, the CD and accompanying DVD feature Clark singing and playing a grand piano on a handful of songs that have the Clark Sisters contemporary sound in their DNA.  Of special interest is the fascinating, psychedelic “There is a Word.”  Its melody and repetitive chorus about the Word drying every tear ...

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“Chestnuts Roasting” – Charles the Artist

“Chestnuts Roasting”Charles the Artist From Cadillac James Presents “A Christmas Showcase” From Warner Robins, Georgia, Charles the Artist (aka Charles Jones) is a gospel singer who offers a toasty-as-a-winter-fire version of “The Christmas Song.”  The influence of Nat Cole’s imprint on Mel Torme’s classic Yuletide composition is felt as well as heard in Charles’ satisfying voice and the cozy arrangement. Charles’s selection is from a multi-artist Christmas album released this year by Cadillac James of the famous Cotton Brothers quartet.  The album contains traditional, familiar, and new Christmas songs, many led by Cadillac James himself.  “Chestnuts Roasting” is part of TBGB ...

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Norman Hutchins – Hosanna

Norman Hutchins Hosanna IR Music Group (2013) www.normanhutchins.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog The choir deserves equal billing on Norman Hutchins’ new album, Hosanna.  Whether singing full-throttle or with nuance, in response to Hutchins’ calls or on its own, the choir doesn’t as much support as serve as an alternate voice. Singer-songwriter Hutchins made his mark during the 2000s on JDI Records.  Songs such as “God’s Got A Blessing (With My Name On It)” and “Get Ready For Your Miracle” contained lyrics that drew from, and contributed to, the catalog of church catchphrases.  Hosanna’s contribution to the ...

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Vernon Hill – Songs From His Presence

Vernon Hill Songs From His Presence (2013) Available on iTunes nonrevmusicpub@gmail.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog The mini-album Songs From His Presence is the CD debut of Vernon Hill, a worship leader who defers the singing of the sacred compositions he wrote or co-wrote to a team of capable artists.   From Owings Mills, Maryland, the conservatory-trained Hill pens songs that walk a fine line between CCM and gospel, but with enough dexterity that the two styles work together like bacon and eggs.  The result is a selection of delicate and contemplative but melodically arresting songs. “In Your ...

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