Gospel Music

“What You Gonna Do” – Ruth Black and the Harmonettes

“What You Gonna Do” Ruth Black and the Harmonettes By Bob Marovich On their new single, “What You Gonna Do,” Ruth Black and the Harmonettes of Alexander City, Alabama, ask sinners to consider whether they will be ready when Jesus comes. They mince no words in calling sinners out, either. Peace breakers, drug addicts, “thief in the night,” backsliders, alcoholics lying on the barroom floor—all are summoned not for shaming but for reclaiming souls for Jesus. “What You Gonna Do” has that relentlessly bouncing southern soul quartet groove that moves seamlessly from verses into a vamp that finds the Harmonettes ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 29, 2019

“Won’t He Do It”Kim RuffSarahschild Records (release date: April 19, 2019) By Bob Marovich A bracing tempo with hard-charging musicians and background vocalists support Stellar Award winner Kim Ruff on her new single, “Won’t He Do It.” Ruff gives this simple song with a simple message an invigorating delivery. Exploding with gratitude over God’s intercession in her life and wanting to share it with the world, she shouts, scoops, and delivers staccato lines with gusto. Though one may be more familiar with Ruff’s smooth singing, such as on the ballad masterpiece “As Good as It Gets” from her 2009 Ready ...

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Janice Gaines – Lead Me

Janice Gaines Lead Me (release date: March 22, 2019) www.janicegaines.com By Bob Marovich Janice Gaines’ Lead Me is a brief but satisfying journey through the hymnbook. It is also a far better showcase for her affecting vocal delivery than Greatest Life Ever, her 2015 album for Motown Gospel. Whereas that album aimed to attract a mass audience by offering generous helpings of bumping bass and electronica, it seemed ill-fitted to Gaines’s more grounded talent. This album, on the other hand, employs the less is more philosophy, meaning it is more authentically rooted in gospel’s one foundation: the church. As if ...

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Elsa Harris – I Thank God

Elsa Harris I Thank God The Sirens (release date: March 15, 2019) www.thesirensrecords.com By Bob Marovich Chicago is the birthplace of gospel music and, in many respects, it’s also the home of the genre’s most ardent preservation efforts. In addition to the forthcoming National Museum of Gospel Music, the vitality of traditional gospel in the Windy City can be heard on veteran gospel artist Elsa Harris’s mostly instrumental CD, I Thank God. Harris’s piano proclivities, forged in the practice room as well as the church, recalls the jauntiness of traditional gospel, a distinctive sound too often obscured in the wake ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 23, 2019

“Hold My Hand Lord” Donny Pomerlee feat. Paul Porter BBG Entertainment, LLC (release date: February 24, 2019) www.wrightmusicgroup.org By Bob Marovich On “Hold My Hand Lord,” Donny Pomerlee’s lithe tenor and Paul Porter’s gritty growl are like sugar and salt, and are just as addictive together. A native of Chicago, Pomerlee honed his vocal and instrumental skills in city churches. He was named Praise and Worship Artist of the Year at the first Chicago Gospel Music Awards. In lyric and style, however, “Hold My Hand Lord” is about as far from P&W as you can get. Pomerlee’s fourth single has ...

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Lineup for 34th Chicago Gospel Music Festival

Check out the link below for a Chicago Sun-Times article that offers the lineup of artists for the 34th Chicago Gospel Music Festival, to be held at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park May 31 and June 1, 2019. The lineup was announced this past week by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Among the festival’s highlights this year are a tribute to the late Aretha Franklin and a collaboration with the Stellar Awards, which will honor Black Music Month and the National Museum of Gospel Music by bringing Stellar Award-winning artists to the main stage. ...

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Zion’s Joy! – What Would Heaven Look Like

Zion’s Joy! What Would Heaven Look Like Habakkuk Music (release date: March 8, 2019) www.zionsjoy.com By Bob Marovich Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, the multicultural small choir called Zion’s Joy! made national news in mid-2018 when the video for their single, “What Would Heaven Look Like,” was erroneously blocked by Facebook. From the “no good deed goes unpunished” department: it was only after the group paid to boost their Facebook post of the video that it was flagged by the social media giant as “political content” and subsequently blocked. The company ultimately apologized and restored the video on its platform, noting ...

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The Lee Boys – Live on the East Coast

The Lee Boys Live on the East Coast M.C. Records (release date: April 19, 2019) www.mc-records.com By Bob Marovich Live on the East Coast, the Lee Boys’ first album since 2012’s Testify and the group’s first for Mark Carpentieri’s M.C. Records, is a smoking hot sanctified-meets-steel workout. Recorded in late 2018 at three live appearances—Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina—the Lee Boys’ album could just as easily have been titled Live in the Southeast. Name aside, the album combines traditional gospels and spirituals, newly-composed songs such as the title track from the group’s Testify album, and soul classics such as the ...

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Melvin Williams Seeks Photos for Mother’s Day Video Tribute

Melvin Williams of the Williams Brothers and, since 1988, a best-selling gospel solo artist, is putting together a video tribute for Mother’s Day.  He invites you to submit a photo of your mother for potential use in the video. If interested, please email the photo to melvinwilliamsentertainment@gmail.com. Submission deadline is May 3. Here’s the song, taken from his 2018 Emmy-nominated PBS special.

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 15, 2019

“You Don’t Know” Zacardi Cortez Black Smoke Music Worldwide (2019) By Bob Marovich “You don’t know my story,” is a frequently uttered church aphorism. “I don’t look like what I’ve been through” is another. On the appropriately-titled “You Don’t Know,” the popular gospel singer Zacardi Cortez (“Oh, How I Love You,” “1 On 1”) offers his own testimony. His big, rough-as-sandpaper shouting tenor, introduced to a national gospel audience on James Fortune & FIYA’s 2007 album The Transformation, is on full display on this deceptively powerful song, as much a recitative of gratitude as a cathartic expression of trials endured ...

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