Interviews

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,” ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

Bryan Popin: Created for Such a Time as This

By Bob Marovich Bryan Popin, the singer, songwriter, producer, and musician whose national debut gospel album, You Can Make It, was released by eOne Music in 2013, is back with a new single and new career momentum.  But as he tells JGM, his journey has had its share of challenges. JGM caught up with Popin just prior to his departure to appear on BET’s new gospel music television program, A Joyful Noise. Bryan Popin was born and raised in Middletown, New Jersey, about 45 minutes from New York City.  “My mom had an incredible gift for teaching piano,” he said. “She ...

Read More »

“Live the Life You Dance About:” Vanessa Odom on the Praise Dance Phenomenon

By Bob Marovich Once upon a time, there was an artistic expression of worship, inaugurated and performed by youth, that wasn’t accepted by all members of the church. I’m not talking about gospel music, or Christian hip hop. I’m talking about praise dancing. Like its musical forebears, praise dancing was once seen as anathema to the Sunday worship service. Today it is more broadly embraced, but Vanessa Odom of St. Luke Gospel Expressions, representing St. Luke Community Christian Church in Chester, Pennsylvania, knows there’s a long way to go. A dancer her entire life, Odom was first exposed to praise ...

Read More »

The Gospel Sensations: Trendsetting With Old School Harmonies

By Bob Marovich To carve out a niche in a quartet community crowded with local and national artists, the Gospel Sensations are employing a time-honored principle that has been all but abandoned in gospel music. A cappella harmony singing. That’s right: trendsetting by going back to the way gospel quartets sang prior to the 1950s: without musical instruments. And people like it. “Sometimes music takes a more commercial turn, and I get that,” said Robert C. Marion Jr., member of the Gospel Sensations. “It takes money to finance a ministry, but the a cappella sound, when it is done right, ...

Read More »

Darrell Hines II Puts God First

By Bob Marovich “Bringing talented people together and finding their strong points and making beautiful songs” is the mantra of producer and record label owner Darrell Hines II. His ensemble REVERB’s debut single, the acoustic-flavored “God First,” is impacting gospel radio. “I’ve been immersed in music all of my life,” Hines told the Journal of Gospel Music. “I didn’t get the gift of singing, but I got the love of music. It was just a matter of how I would fit in.” Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Hines comes from a long lineage of pastors. As a child, he ...

Read More »