Gospel Music

Emerging Artist Spotlight: Dana Divine

It’s not entirely accurate to call Dana Divine an “emerging artist,” as she has a sizable music resume, including more than a dozen singles to her credit, and is well known for originating the “Gospel Slide” (“I wanna get funky for Christ”), perhaps the first time in music history that a gospel recording launched a dance craze. But since the Gospel Announcers Guild of the Gospel Music Workshop of America has now officially approved “Gospel DJ [aka club DJ]” as a membership category, it’s time “gospel house” got its due as an emerging art form. On Dana’s exquisite CD, A ...

Read More »

Classic Gospel – Essential Recordings: Week 117

“View the City” — Rizen 2003 On CD Rizen (Light Records) Their official website (www.rizen.biz) calls Michigan-born Rizen a “retro gospel girl group.” That makes perfect sense. Shades of the Caravans, Davis Sisters, Ward Singers and Gospel Harmonettes spring to mind upon hearing Rizen – Adriann and Aundrea Lewis, Kanika Trigg, and Ashley Jones – sing “View the City.” Watch them perform this song live – and their new DVD makes this as easy as pie to do – and you’ll wonder whether you’ve traveled back in time. The four ladies are as energetic as they sound, preaching the song ...

Read More »

Single Review: “Take My Life” – from Bishop T.D. Jakes’ He-Motions featuring Micah Stampley (EMI Gospel 2004)

For a long time, gospel music and what is now termed contemporary Christian music were disparate genres. Today it seems as if each is picking up some of the qualities of the other: CCM is getting rootsier and funkier, and gospel is incorporating some of the lovely melodies that have long been CCM’s strong suit. A fine example of this musical cross-pollination can be found on Bishop T.D. Jakes’ He-Motions project, courtesy of EMI Gospel and Dexterity Sounds. In particular, “Take My Life,” featuring the smooth vocals of Houston’s Micah Stampley, blends a quality CCM melody with the honest beat ...

Read More »

Single Review: “You’ve Been So Good” – Neal Roberson (Blackberry, 2004)

A native of Durant, Mississippi who now serves as senior pastor of Victorious Christian Worship Center in Rockford, Illinois, Cornelius “Neal” Roberson is a talented minister, singer, songwriter, and a very funny master of ceremonies. I had the good fortune of seeing him in action a couple of times at the Gospel Music Workshop of America in Kansas City this past August, and enjoyed his instantly likeable personality, self-deprecating humor, and genuine affection for people. From the uproarious laughter and applause that accompanied his commentary, it was evident that others felt the same. Taken from Roberson’s new CD on Blackberry ...

Read More »

“Sunday Singing: The Black Gospel Quartet” by Mark Anthony Neal

This well-written article, posted on PopMatters (www.popmatters.com), is at once a succinct history of Golden Era gospel quartet singing and a poignant tribute to an African American migrant — “as old-school and country as they come” who moved from Georgia to Harlem after the Second World War in search of a better life. http://www.popmatters.com/music/features/020805-gospel.shtml

Read More »

CD Review: Roy Tyler and New Directions – Three Way Calling (Severn, 2004)

A former member of the Grammy-nominated Gospel Hummingbirds, quartet singer Roy Tyler is going in a new direction. After a musical hiatus, Tyler is ready to reclaim his stake in gospel music. This time, his contribution is steeped in a music he calls, most appropriately, “swamp gospel.” On Three Way Calling, his new CD for the predominantly blues-oriented Severn Records, Tyler and his group New Directions serve up a tasty gumbo of blues guitar licks, gospel shouting, rocking beats, quartet singing, and even a dash of rock steady. Every second of the music is supported by crisp production. Think Highway ...

Read More »

CD Review: Turn to Hymn #… Vickie Woodard’s Melodious Praise

Turn to Hymn #… “Forgotten Hymns of the Church” featuring Vickie Woodard’s Melodious Praise Gospel artist Vickie Woodard set out to celebrate the beauty of the old hymns in her latest project, Turn to Hymn #…. Her vocal tribute to these revered Christian songs is accompanied by piano, organ, and electronic keyboard. Vickie’s intention to pay homage to classic hymnody while infusing each song with a modern sensibility would have come off much more effectively had the accompaniment been limited to piano and organ. The electric keyboard gives the tracks too much of a hotel lounge feel, obscuring the simple ...

Read More »

Classic Gospel – Essential Recordings: Week 116

“I Believe” — Sons of Wonder Honey-B-Recording Co. 1045 Early 60s I have heard plenty of syrupy-sweet or just plain bad versions of the gospel/country chestnut “I Believe” to make me want to abandon hope of ever fully appreciating the composition. Until recently, only Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelle’s glass-shattering version recorded for Parkway in the early 1960s held my utmost respect. Until I heard the Boys of Wonder, that is. Think Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells, but male. This quartet’s version of “I Believe” is part preaching and part singing. While the narrator intones how as a boy, he ...

Read More »

Classic Gospel – Essential Recordings: Week 115

Week 115: “No Love is Sweeter” Echoes of Harmony ca. early 1970s (Savoy LP 14280) I could not find definitive information on the Echoes of Harmony, and that’s a shame, because they are superb! If, however, this quartet is the same as the Echoes of Harmony of Jersey City, NJ — and given Savoy’s headquarters in Newark, NJ, it is entirely possible — then the quartet was founded by Deacon Robert W. Jones in 1947. By 1969, Jones was the only remaining original member. At that time, Echoes’ personnel was Jones (founder and tenor), Simon Dingle (lead), Otis Dingle (2nd ...

Read More »

“Saint” Samuel Patterson: 1920-2004

Samuel Patterson, known as “Saint” Samuel Patterson, left this world for his eternal reward on Thursday evening, September 16, 2004. According to information generously supplied to me by Chicago COGIC and gospel music historian Mack Mason, Patterson was memorialized at the church he founded, St. Samuel Temple COGIC, 8749 South State Street, Chicago on September 24. The wake and service took place on the 25th at the Life Center COGIC, 5500 South Indiana, with Bishop Robert R. Sanders of the Third Jurisdiction officiating. Patterson was born August 31, 1920 in Morgan City, Mississippi as one of 14 children of John ...

Read More »