Interviews

Christian Hip Hop’s Amour Raps to Change Lives

By Bob Marovich Amour has a two-fisted passion for life. Growing up in her father’s church, she sang, played drums, led the youth choir, and joined the dance team. In college, she focused on business, law, fashion, and graphic design. Among a kaleidoscope of interests, one was a gift for rhyming and rapping. Channeling her gift into a means of higher praise, Amour is now emerging as one of only a handful of female Christian hip hop artists. She is also using her talent, and her story, to change lives. Amour (born TerDawn DeBoe) now lives in Cleveland, Ohio, but ...

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Micah Stampley’s Eighth Album Has Vertical Worship, Hymns With a Twist

By Bob Marovich On May 20, Micah Stampley releases his eighth album, To the King…Vertical Worship.  The live recording, which took place at Oasis Family Life Church in Dallas, Georgia, on June 26 of last year, finds the gospel crooner offering up a batch of new songs, many co-written with his wife and songwriting partner, Heidi. “Be Lifted,” the album’s first single, is already impacting gospel radio. Stampley talked with JGM about the new album, first explaining what he means by vertical worship. “To be categorized as a gospel artist,” he said, “we have to sing the gospel.  It’s not rocket ...

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Jonathan Nelson On Songwriting: “When It’s Flowing, It’s Just Flowing”

By Bob Marovich On March 18, the Stellar Award-winning singer-songwriter Jonathan Nelson released Fearless (Light Records / eOne Music), a live recording that JGM gave its highest possible rating, five stars, for its ability to “be musically versatile and passionate yet remain firmly rooted in the atmospheric and hypnotic P&W technique.” Nelson spoke to JGM about how his songwriting process contributed to the creation of Fearless. “My songwriting process is ‘when it comes,’” Nelson said. “I could be in a car–and a lot of times songs come to me in the car because I’m alone–or in meditation time, and I pull ...

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Christon Gray Has a Lot to Say

By Bob Marovich A lot can happen in two years. Just ask Christon Gray. In 2014, the Christian artist released his solo debut album, School of Roses. It caught the attention of Kirk Franklin, who signed Gray to his Fo Yo Soul Recordings/RCA label. On Friday, March 11, 2016, The Glory Album, Christon’s second solo album and first for his new label, hit the streets. “The album is doing well,” Gray told the Journal of Gospel Music. “Kirk Franklin told me to be myself, to have the freedom to do what I want to do. His validation was very encouraging. ...

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Michael Weatherspoon’s New Book Aims to Improve Music Ministry Leadership

By Bob Marovich For the past 30 years, musician, producer, and record label executive Michael Weatherspoon has seen what works and what doesn’t in church music ministry. In particular, he’s noticed that church members are often elevated to leadership positions without the proper leadership education. A lack of training, he says, can be detrimental to both minister and ministry. His new book, The Cost of Indecision: A Plan for Music & Life (Faithwalk Publishing), is a collection of lifelong observations, lessons, and directives on music ministry, as well as action items that can be learned today and put in practice tomorrow. ...

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Vernell Payton Jr. – Former Sunday Best Contestant Steps Out on Faith

By Bob Marovich In Mark 6:4, Jesus advises that “a prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown.” This is true, almost to the point of becoming cliché.  It rings true for Vernell Payton Jr. “It took a man from Chicago, who did not know me, who I never met, to see something in me that my own hometown did not invest time in,” the independent gospel artist told the Journal of Gospel Music while in Chicago last week, visiting his record label, 4Parks Entertainment. Payton’s hometown is New Orleans, and more specifically, the Gentilly area, which abuts Lake Ponchartrain. ...

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“That Dude Deon” Kipping Finds a Place Called Victory

By Bob Marovich The stage curtains opened on JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise as the group was about to introduce its new song and soon-to-become-hit, “Incredible God, Incredible Praise.” Holding the microphone was the song’s creator, Deon Kipping. That wasn’t the way it was supposed to go down. “I didn’t want to lead the song,” Kipping told JGM. “I wanted to give it to somebody else to lead, but the curtain was opening and I had the microphone in my hand. So I had to walk out and sing it.” That moment, and that song, became Kipping’s inadvertent introduction into ...

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For William McDowell, “Sounds of Revival” Goes Beyond Worship

By Bob Marovich Not two weeks after its January 22 release, celebrated worship leader William McDowell’s fourth album, Sounds of Revival: Live (Delivery Room Music / eOne Music), entered Billboard Magazine’s Top Gospel Album charts.  It knocked Kirk Franklin’s Losing My Religion from the number one position. Recorded live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before an audience of 3,000 people, Sounds of Revival is McDowell’s third number one album. It is also the latest chapter of the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter-worship leader’s journey, one that began in Cincinnati, Ohio, and soared when his 2009 “I Give Myself Away” garnered more than one million views on YouTube. ...

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“Oh Come Emmanuel” by Jason Nelson and LIVV: An Interview

By Marianne Richard, Special Contributor to the Journal of Gospel Music Jason Nelson just released his Christmas song, “Oh Come Emmanuel,” featuring LIVV, a new gospel singer with a unique voice and a beautiful spirit. When LIVV shared details on the “behind the scenes” of the making of the track, we realized that this Christmas single is more than it presents.  It is a heavy collaboration between Jason Nelson and LIVV. Now, in full confidence, we can say that the song truly exemplifies all that Christmas stands for. Of course, we were not going to keep what we learned from LIVV ...

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Bill Moss Jr. Rearranges CCM Classics for Forthcoming Album

By Bob Marovich When the chime struck five last Sunday afternoon, December 20, Third New Hope Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, was filled with eager anticipation. Members and music enthusiasts were on hand to support the church’s Worship Pastor, Bill Moss Jr., as he prepared to record his first live CD since his Billboard-charting Manifested Favor in 2008. “My church is a corporate-style worship church,” Moss told JGM by telephone just prior to the event. “I’ve been doing a bit of CCM [Contemporary Christian Music] and rearranging it to fit our culture. The response has been amazing. People have really ...

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