Interviews

Sir the Baptist: Everyday Music from a Sunday Knight

By Bob Marovich The sacred-secular divide in music is a uniquely modern conception, and it misses the point. In West Africa, where most enslaved Africans came from, all music was sacred and all music was secular. There was no distinction…until the music came to America during the African Diaspora and distinctions based on intent were forced upon it. This Saturday night-Sunday morning dialogue about what makes gospel gospel arises whenever a new generation of music makers blurs the applied distinctions to communicate a modern message to a contemporary community of believers and non-believers. Perhaps no artist today better represents the ...

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Backstage with Motown Gospel Artist Gene Moore

By Bob Marovich Last December, gospel artist Gene Moore was on top of the world. He had recently gotten married to the love of his life, and things were looking up. He had released his debut album, The Future, on Motown Gospel in 2016. Then the trials started. “First, my wife’s car broke down and we were sharing a car for about six months,” Gene said. “Then I lost three of my jobs due to layoffs and changes in administration. I had to file for unemployment. I started to drive for Uber and Lyft. I told my wife I felt ...

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Who is Titus Showers? The Answer Is On His New EP

By Bob Marovich If the leaders of Hammond, Louisiana, ever decided to change the town’s name, one contender in the running would be Showers, Louisiana. This Tangipahoa Parish town with a census of about 21,000 residents boasts no less than seven businesses owned and operated by members of the Showers Family. Gospel fans also know the Showers as a popular family band. The singing group, which made its national recording debut in 2009, is but one example of the family’s commitment to religious ministry. Family patriarch Dr. Bobby R. Showers Sr. pastors Rose Valley Missionary Baptist Church in nearby Roseland. ...

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Tim Rogers “Fella-rized” James Cleveland for New Single

By Bob Marovich The collaboration between Stellar Award-winning Arkansas gospel quartet Tim Rogers and the Fellas and the Grammy-nominated R&B sensation Calvin Richardson that resulted in the Fellas’ latest single, “Hold Out,” began in the unlikeliest of places: an airport. Rogers and Richardson ran into one another while moving through the Memphis International Airport. Rogers told the Journal of Gospel Music that although the two men had never met face-to-face, “his family knew me and of course I knew him. We vowed to do something together, and we made sure we kept our word.” The result of their collaboration, “Hold Out” ...

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Danny Gokey: A Career that God Built

By Bob Marovich Twenty-seven-year-old Sophia Martinez Gokey was a big fan of American Idol. She taped the program so her husband Danny Gokey, also an enthusiast of the singing competition, could watch it after he returned home from work. Sophia eventually encouraged Danny to audition for the show and, in his final year of age eligibility for the program, Danny decided to go for it. But on July 9, 2008, four weeks before the American Idol audition was to take place in Kansas City, Sophia passed away. “It was tragic. It was heartbreaking,” Danny told the Journal of Gospel Music. ...

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Gospel Industry Exec’s Book Aims to Help Gospel Artists Grow, Develop

By Bob Marovich While her friends were listening to the singing stars of the day, a young Tracy Williamson was just as interested in who was producing the music, and how they did it, as who sung it. She charted the careers of legendary producers like Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy, Sean “P Diddy” Combs, and—closer to her Chicago home—Chicago Mass Choir producer and vocalist Percy Gray Jr. and her mother, Chicago Mass president Dr. Feranda Williamson. Her music business education continued while serving as A&R and label director at Tyscot Records, where she gained additional wisdom and inspiration from label ...

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Calvin Simon: From Gospel to Funk and Back Again

By Bob Marovich Few gospel artists can claim to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Only one, to my knowledge, can also boast that a major prop from his former band is now on display in the Smithsonian. Calvin Simon can lay claim to both. As a founding member of the popular funk group Parliament Funkadelic, Simon is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. The P Funk Mothership, an iconic stage prop, is part of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Although Simon has laid those days to the ...

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Christon Gray Wants to Clear the Air with “Interim” Album

By Bob Marovich After the release of his Billboard-charting School of Roses in 2014, Christon Gray had no idea what was coming. “I didn’t know that I would be going through a separation and then a divorce,” Gray told the Journal of Gospel Music. “I didn’t know that I would be moving. I didn’t know that I’d be in a new relationship. I didn’t know that I’d be leaving a record label. All of that happened and more.” On his latest release, Clear the Heir (Fo Yo Soul Recordings / RCA Inspiration), Gray uses lyric poetry and music to describe ...

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New Evelyn Turrentine-Agee Single Declares “God Gave His Best”

By Bob Marovich Written and produced by her son, Curtis Turrentine Jr., Evelyn Turrentine-Agee’s “God Gave His Best” will be released Friday, October 5. It’s the latest single from the Queen of Quartet, whose gospel music career spans several decades. Evelyn told the Journal of Gospel Music that her singing ministry began at the tender age of two. “At two years old, I was singing so much that my dad would take me to church. He’d hold me up in his arms and say, ‘Sing baby!’ My favorite song to sing was ‘Thank You, Jesus.’ People would just shout! At first I thought, ‘What’s the matter with ...

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New Devin Williams CD Comes with Strings Attached…A Whole Quartet, In Fact

By Bob Marovich With seven of his singles, including the latest, “Like a Fire,” becoming Top 30 Christian Rock charting songs, Devin Williams has done what, to my knowledge, no Christian rocker has done to date: set his searing singles to the soothing sounds of a string quartet. Released August 31, Devin Williams with String Quartet was produced by Grammy Award-winning engineer Brad Blackwood, (Maroon 5, Korn, Skillet, Sara Bareilles, Alison Krauss). What has been the initial reaction of Williams’ fan base to the new project? “It’s still early, but the fans are digging it,” Williams told the Journal of Gospel Music. ...

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