Interviews

Chicago’s Kenny Lewis & One Voice Offer “Music Buffet” on New Album

By Bob Marovich Kenny Lewis, founder and leader of the Stellar Award-nominated gospel group One Voice, didn’t have to go any further than the current news to find inspiration for his new album. “With the way that the economy was going and with the election,” Lewis told JGM, “we really didn’t know what was going to happen. I felt like it was time for everybody to refocus back on Jesus and loving Jesus.” Refocus, Kenny Lewis & One Voice’s new (and fourth) album, is all about getting back to loving Christ. Released last Friday, May 19, the album’s single, “Love Song,” ...

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Lamont Sanders: “God Was Trying to Get My Attention”

By Bob Marovich Relaxing on the tour bus after a concert, Lamont Sanders could still hear the shouts of “Encore!” from tens of thousands of audience members echoing in his mind. The Bible says your gift will make room for you, Sanders reflected, and it had. He had signed with Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Andre Harrell. His R&B group was performing to adoring fans, just like tonight. It had recorded an album that would soon be released. Life was good. Then he felt a presence in the seat next to him. A voice spoke: “That feels good, huh? They’re screaming ...

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Vancouver’s Warren Dean Flandez: the “Christian Bruno Mars”

By Bob Marovich No doubt about it, Canada has a thriving gospel music community. Some artists, such as Londa Larmond, the Quebec Celebration Gospel Choir, and the Sojourners quartet, have somewhat broken through into the U.S. gospel music market. I say somewhat, because in comparison to the long litany of Canadian pop artists who conquered the U.S. market and went on to become global sensations, gospel singers from Canada have yet to make their mark outside of their country. Warren Dean Flandez wants to change that. Although he has been active in music for many years, the Vancouver-based artist released ...

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Phil Thornton on WOW Gospel 2017: “A Source of Hope and Inspiration”

By Bob Marovich What does it take to compile an annual survey of the Best of the Best in gospel music? Phil Thornton knows. As Senior Vice President and General Manager for RCA Inspiration, which just released WOW Gospel 2017, the latest in a twenty-year string of two-CD samplings of the finest in African American gospel music, Thornton is now an integral part of the process. “I remember purchasing the collections years ago,” he told the Journal of Gospel Music. “Actually being part of the process feels like I’ve come full circle. It’s an honor to be involved with a ...

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Kinsmen: Creating Family Harmony

By Bob Marovich From their genesis in the Vasser Family basement to their forthcoming debut as television actors, the men of Kinsmen demonstrate how a family that sings together stays together. Around 1985, Robert Vasser, a member of Rev. Dr. Clay Evans’ Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, gathered his sons Kevin and Keith and their first cousins, Van Moody and Reggie Tillman, to try their hand at gospel singing. The quartet of young men stood in the Vasser basement and worked on emulating one of Robert’s favorite groups, the Mighty Clouds of Joy. “We started singing around the record player,” ...

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New Jersey’s Henry Hall Declares Dominion Over New Live Project

By Bob Marovich “I want to give people a sense of empowerment that they can do whatever it is they have in their heart to do,” Henry Hall said about the purpose of his new live recording, Declaration of Dominion. Hall might well have been talking about himself.  His own life is a lesson in striving to be all one can be. Born across the Delaware River from Philadelphia in Camden, New Jersey, Hall lost his mother when he was just eleven years old. By age twelve, he and the rest of his family started attending church. Their worship home was ...

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Phillip Carter Delivers Songs Choirs “Can Learn in Two Rehearsals or Less”

By Bob Marovich Some twenty years ago, Phillip Carter gathered a half dozen of his friends into a local studio. He had written some songs and wanted to hear what they sounded like as performed by a vocal group. Carter told JGM: “I taught them the music, and we thought, ‘Man, this sounds pretty good!’ I decided to record some of it. One thing led to another and we started the group.” On September 23, Carter and his group, called the Sounds of Victory (SOV for short), released their sixth live recording, Live From Zion, on Phillip Carter Music distributed through ...

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Luther Barnes Has the Favor of God

By Bob Marovich Rocky Mount, North Carolina, an hour’s drive from the state capitol of Raleigh, is neither rocky nor mountainy. The population is a modest 60,000, but the town looms large in gospel music lore as the longtime home of one of the genre’s most important family dynasties: the Barnes Family. The dynasty began in 1959 when the Reverend F. C. Barnes founded Red Budd Holy Church in Rocky Mount. Generations of Barnes family members have worshipped at Red Budd and enriched the church’s music ministry as singers, directors, songwriters, and musicians. Barnes and the Reverend Janice Brown put Rocky ...

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Dayna Caddell Keeps On Pushing

By Bob Marovich “Keep pushing and hold on to God, because there’s a way out.” That’s how Grammy and Dove Award nominee Dayna Caddell describes the theme of her first full-length solo album, Push, released July 8 on Forty Entertainment/eOne. The album’s positive disposition and personal testimonies encourage listeners to overcome their own personal and professional struggles. Or as Dayna told JGM, Push is about “my stories, stories I’ve witnessed, and perseverance in knowing there’s a way out.” To say Dayna was brought up in a musical home would be an understatement. She was surrounded by music, largely because her father, Oscar Caddell, was a music ...

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LaVarnga Hubbard Calls On Her Chicago Mass Choir Family for “Worthy”

By Bob Marovich Lady LaVarnga Hubbard, known as the Duchess of Gospel Music, has been a member of the Chicago Mass Choir since it was the Ecclesiastes Community Choir, under the leadership of the late James C. Chambers. Her lead on Chicago Mass’s “Call Him Up” has ensured the song a place in the choir’s repertory. So when it was time for her to release solo music, all Hubbard had to do was call up her extended Chicago Mass Choir family. That’s what she did for her latest single, “Worthy.” “Worthy” was written especially for her by Grover Lafayette Simmons, whose ...

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