Gospel Music

CD Review: Whatever Brought You Out – Alton Woodley, Jr. and Percy Carter, Jr. (Perseverance, 2004)

Hailing originally from Chicago’s West Side, Percy Carter, Jr. and Alton Woodley, Jr. recently released Whatever Brought You Out on Perseverance Records. This is a very pleasant project, fun to listen to, and the melodies are memorable long after the CD stops spinning. This is not surprising, as both Carter and Woodley (who is legally blind) have lengthy musical resumes that include tours in both sacred and secular music. Consummate professionals, Carter and Woodley perform extremely well together. Although their vocal toolkit does not include the drama and melismatic acrobatics characteristic of sanctified singers, their baritone voices are appealing and ...

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Emerging Artists: NU DNA

NU DNA is made up of Midwesterners Larry and Marc Frye and Kelvin Moore. According to the group’s press kit, “NU DNA is what happens to a person’s Deoxyribonucleic Acid after just one real encounter with Christ.” Recognizing that biochemical theology is not a subject typically bantered about in gospel music circles, the listener is primed and ready for a fresh new approach to gospel music. The group doesn’t disappoint. NU DNA’s groove is more R. Kelly than T. Dorsey, and will therefore appeal more to urban contemporary gospel legions than old-schoolers, but no matter. On the promo tracks I ...

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New Book Explores Chicago COGIC Gospel Music History

When one thinks of Chicago gospel, names such as Thomas Dorsey, Roberta Martin, Kenneth Morris, Sallie Martin, and Mahalia Jackson come to mind. But there were many other shining lights in the Chicago gospel music community “back in the day,” and many of them came out of the Church of God in Christ. Mack C. Mason’s recently published book, Saints in the Land of Lincoln (Faithday Press), examines in detail the Chicago COGIC gospel music scene. As I write in my forward to the book: “With Saints in the Land of Lincoln, Elder Mack C. Mason has contributed invaluably to ...

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“Lord’s Prayer” Arrangement Gets “Second Chance”

Judge Not, the debut CD from Omaha, Nebraska-based quartet Second Chance (Higher Praise Records), is slated for release on November 26, 2004. The project’s magnum opus is a mostly a cappella rendition of “Lord’s Prayer.” It sounds strikingly similar to the beautiful arrangement that Rev. Claude Jeter and the Swan Silvertones gave the prayer in 1956 (Vee Jay 232). Second Chance member Courtney Jackson tells The Black Gospel Blog that the resemblance between the two recordings is not entirely coincidental, as the quartet based its arrangement on one Jackson learned from Willie Donald when both were members of the Omaha ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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“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

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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 ...

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