Gospel Music

Shirley Caesar – “Take Your Knee Off My Neck”

By Bob Marovich Give it up for Pastor Shirley Caesar. She stands once again, unafraid, and speaks her mind through music. Caesar, whose heart-wrenching “Mother Emanuel” honored the nine who lost their lives in the 2015 shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, is back with another protest anthem called “Take Your Knee Off My Neck.” The new song attacks the literal and figurative asphyxiation of African Americans at the hands of police and by the violence and apathy of white America. Declaring “Black Lives Matter,” she speaks their names, including George Floyd (“a lynching in broad daylight”), ...

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Shirley McNeil & Singers of Faith – You Can Count on Me

Shirley McNeil & Singers of Faith You Can Count on Me Independent (2020) By Bob Marovich Originally issued in 2018, I’m All You See by the female quartet Shirley McNeil & Singers of Faith has received a makeover and is angling for national attention under a new title, You Can Count on Me. Buoyed by Ray Braswell Jr’s crisp production, the album features contemporary gospel quartet singing just like one hears in the Carolinas, from whence the group hails. Songs with conventional church messages benefit from standard modern instrumentation, mid-range harmonies, and call-and-response work between the quartet and lead singer ...

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Jekalyn Carr – Changing Your Story Live!

Jekalyn Carr Changing Your Story Live! Lunjeal/The Orchard (release date: October 23, 2020) www.iamjekalyncarr.com By Bob Marovich Jekalyn Carr has achieved more by age 23 than most people will accomplish in a lifetime. With six Top 10 gospel singles under her belt, four hitting number one, plus several albums, a book, an e-course, acting credentials, Dove and Stellar awards, a GRAMMY nomination, and an endless stream of singing and speaking appearances, Carr is living proof of the power of her life-affirming messages. Recorded at Atlanta’s Praise in the Park event last October, Changing Your Story Live! is full of essentially ...

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RIP: Rev. John Wilkins, Gospel Singer and Musician

By Bob Marovich Gospel music collector and enthusiast John Glassburner informed JGM that the Reverend John Wilkins, son of blues singer Robert Wilkins, passed away October 6 at age 76 after a two-month battle with COVID-19. Bob Mehr of the Memphis Commercial Appeal does a far better job than I could writing Rev. Wilkins’ obituary, so please read it here:https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2020/10/06/rev-john-wilkins-obit-dies-memphis-music-blues-gospel/5902177002/ Here is a video of Rev. Wilkins cutting a 78 RPM record for The 78 Project: Here is JGM‘s review of Rev. Wilkins’ five-star album, You Can’t Hurry God (Fat Possum Records, 2010): http://journalofgospelmusic.com/gospel/reverend-john-wilkins-you-cant-hurry-god/. JGM sends its condolences to Reverend Wilkins’ ...

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Speak Truth, Says Brian Courtney Wilson, But Also “Be Still and Know”

By Bob Marovich Like all of us, Brian Courtney Wilson is navigating the raging tempests of 2020 as best he can. He is also using his platform as a GRAMMY-nominated gospel singer, and specifically his new album, Still, to help others weather the storms of life. Wilson’s fifth studio album comes out this Friday, October 16, on Motown Gospel. “We are all in the same boat,” Wilson told the Journal of Gospel Music. “I pray that Still helps people deal with the challenges they are facing now and the challenges they’ve been dealing with.” Given that the title track (and current ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 13, 2020

“Your Love Is” People of the Earth WeArePOTE Records (release date: September 18, 2020) www.wearepote.com By Bob Marovich The pop-flavored “Your Love Is” draws on metaphors from nature to describe the beauty and the promises of the Lord. The five-piece ensemble People of the Earth demonstrates its eclectic musical inspirations in abundance, as the song could easily air on American Top 40 and nobody would bat an eye. The music and melody are as sunny and optimistic as the message. If ever there was a Christian song that could also be categorized as a summer anthem, it’s “Your Love Is.” ...

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Chosen Vessel – Marvin Sapp

Marvin Sapp Chosen Vessel RCA Inspiration / Verity (release date: October 9, 2020) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Every successive Marvin Sapp solo album release after 2007’s Gold-certified Thirsty, with its blockbuster hit, “Never Would Have Made It,” has assumed something of Major Event status. Here I Am (2010), with its hit “The Best In Me;” I Win (2012); You Shall Live (2015); and Close (2017) received widespread attention and each ultimately hit number one. So no pressure on Chosen Vessel, Sapp’s twelfth solo release, dropped last Friday. Produced by Aaron Lindsey and Myron Butler, Chosen Vessel was recorded at Sapp’s ...

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“Glory” – Detroit Youth Choir feat. IndigoYaj

“Glory” Detroit Youth Choir feat. IndigoYaj (release date: July 13, 2020) www.detroityouthchoir.org By Bob Marovich From the 2014 film Selma, “Glory” is an ideal piece to sing for choruses everywhere, and especially youth ensembles like the fifty-plus member Detroit Youth Choir, which retains the song’s inspirational soul while foregrounding its sobering message of inequality. Rap interludes from former DYC member IndigoYaj update the original by expressing the anxieties of COVID-19 and righteous anger over the persistence of racism. The choir received a shout out from none other than John Legend, who co-wrote “Glory” with Common and Rhymefest. The DYC puts ...

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Christian Music’s Top Singing Groups Unite For a Ground-Breaking Collaboration

Southern Gospel’s Legacy Five and Gospel’s The Wardlaw Brothers Unite For “9 Makes Us 1” Nashville, TN — Legacy Five and The Wardlaw Brothers are two groups, from two genres of music traditionally separated more often by race than by the style of music. Legacy Five is in Southern Gospel which consists of predominantly white artists. The Wardlaw Brothers are in Gospel which is made up of predominantly black artists. It is understood that music is divided into genres for industry cataloging purposes and creative stylistic referencing. But music too often has a racial divide that supersedes creative content. The ...

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Elder Randall Ogans Sr. – What a Friend

Elder Randall Ogans Sr. What a Friend Alpha 7 Ministries (release date: October 1, 2020) www.alpha7.org By Bob Marovich Elder Randall Ogans Sr.’s What a Friend contains classic hymns bathed in smooth instrumental arrangements. Well, almost. “We Need to Pray” is the one and only track with lyrics or, more specifically, a spoken word meditation by Elder Ogans. Over the melody of the Lords of Harmony’s 1965 single, “If God Gave Us Everything,” Ogans shares a real-life parable about a homeless shelter to remind listeners that there but for the grace of God go we. Otherwise, it’s instrumental jazz played ...

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