Gospel Music

“Never Shakes, Never Will” – The Wood Drake Sessions

“Never Shakes, Never Will” The Wood Drake Sessions (Independent; release date: January 19, 2021) https://thewooddrakesessions.com/ By Robert M. Marovich Taking their text from Psalm 121 (“I lift my eyes to the hills”), the Wood Drake Sessions offers a word of personal encouragement in “Never Shakes, Never Will.” The song is bathed in an acoustic, laidback Levon Helm-meets-Southern-Gospel vibe. Crisp production makes for a peaceful, easy listening experience. Paul Ranheim and Kirk Sauers, aka The Wood Drake Sessions, are friends who met initially in Nashville. Today, Paul is a minister and songwriter in Colorado, and Kirk is a worship leader in ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 8, 2021

“Judgement Day” Jules Schroeder Jules Schroeder Music (release date: November 17, 2020) https://julesschroedermusic.com/ On “Judgement Day,” inspirational singer-songwriter Jules Schroeder offers a poignant anthem of freedom. Evoking current times (“a world of hate”) in melody, mood, and lyric, she sings: “In the last hour when you’re standing by the gate, there will be no one left to blame for every choice that you’ve made.” Assisted by the Marcus Mosely Choir, Schroeder sounds like Neko Case when singing the declarative “live free or die” refrain. For those who peddle hate, she has but one message as they gingerly approach the pearly ...

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RIP: Dr. Douglas Miller, Singer, Songwriter, Choir Director

By Robert M. Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music was saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Douglas Miller, a choir director, singer, songwriter, and contributor to the International Music Department of the Church of God in Christ. The following is a brief bio I wrote for the Malaco Music Group website: Dr. Douglas Lee Miller was born on New Year’s Eve, 1949, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. His mother, Sister Naomi Miller, was active in the local First Born Church of the Living God, pastored by Bishop Joseph McGauley. It was at this church that young Douglas, without any formal ...

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Jarred AllStar – The Gift and the Calling

Jarred AllStar The Gift and the Calling (Release date: December 25, 2020) www.jarredallstar.com By Robert M. Marovich Despite the cover photo, which depicts Christian hip hop artist Jarred AllStar Haynes carrying a wrapped box with a bow; and despite the fact that the project was released on Christmas Day; and despite the Christmas references on “Wise Men,” The Gift and the Calling is not a Christmas album. Jarred AllStar’s new project is sacred freestyle. For example, “Hit You With a Smile” is breathless rapid-fire rapping against a cacophonous backdrop of eerie glissando. Here and elsewhere on the project, pop culture ...

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Shyne On Me: What a Year (EP)

Shyne On Me What a Year (EP) (Release Date: November 26, 2020) https://shyneonme.bandcamp.com/ By Robert M. Marovich The year 2020 wasn’t over when DC-based Christian rapper Shyne On Me, like most sentient beings, was ready to stick a fork in it. Nor was the trouble the year wrought, as we witnessed on January 6 in the rapper’s own hometown. His EP, What a Year, encapsulates the emotional rollercoaster that was 2020 through rhymes he renders to a mix of acoustic guitar, laidback beats, and a cacophony of other voices, like friends gathered (masks on, of course) to share collective empathy. ...

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“I Made It” – Darius Paulk

I Made It”Darius PaulkAIR / Malaco Music Groupwww.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich The intro to singer-songwriter Darius Paulk’s new single, “I Made It,” is straight out of the James Cleveland songbook. Percussive piano, check. Chirping organ, check. Gospel waltz tempo, check. The lyrics, on the other hand, offer a timeless message: surviving the trials and tribulations of life is the result of God’s goodness. But Paulk reminds the listener that it’s not always easy to keep the faith. He gets real: “The pressures of life are so hard to bear / And sometimes it seems like no one cares.” Later ...

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Bishop J. Drew Sheard Turns Pandemic Heartbreak into Community Healing

By Robert M. Marovich Last March, the COVID-19 pandemic washed over Bishop J. Drew Sheard’s family and associates like a tsunami. His brother, the Reverend Ethan B. Sheard, tested positive for the virus. So did his children, well-known musicians J Drew II and Kierra. His mother, Willie Mae Sheard, and father, Bishop John H. Sheard, pastor of Greater Mitchell Temple Church of God in Christ in Detroit, also contracted the virus. “It hit my family pretty hard,” Sheard, Senior Pastor of Detroit’s Greater Emmanuel Institutional (GEI) Church of God in Christ, told the Journal of Gospel Music. “The most difficult ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 25, 2021

“Thank God for What Didn’t Happen” Prez Blackmon Pearl’s Son Music (release date: January 1, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich The title alone is a testament to the times. But for God, Blackmon sings in his elastic tenor, it could have been me, it could have been worse, it could have been tragic. It’s a statement Blackmon heard his pastor, Bishop Noel Jones of the City of Refuge L.A., say many times. This past year’s worrisome mix of physical and social trials, however, really put it in focus for the singer. Blackmon sets his message of gratitude to an appropriately ...

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JGM’s Best CDs, Singles and Historic Reissues of 2020

By Bob Marovich As is our custom for this time of year, the Journal of Gospel Music presents its “best of” lists in the category of CDs, songs, and historical releases. The recordings were not chosen as “best of” based on sales, chart status, promotion, voting, fan popularity, number of likes or retweets, committee decisions, throwing darts, reading tea leaves, arm twisting, or anything other than 1) JGM was serviced with the music for review either on its own platform or for review in another journal or publication, and 2) JGM believes they best represented gospel/sacred music in 2020 in ...

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