Quartet

Brothers in Unity – Somewhere to Lay My Head

Brothers in Unity Somewhere to Lay My Head (independent release) By Bob Marovich Originally recorded in 2008 as their debut album and relaunched this year, the Brothers in Unity quartet’s Somewhere to Lay My Head is an album of traditional hymns as well as new songs composed in the traditional gospel quartet style. The album is lovingly dedicated to Sandra Abney, the spouse of the quartet’s founder and manager, Elder Larry Abney, and someone who, from the photo included in the album package, sadly passed away much too young. The title track, not a cover of the Sensational Nightingales/Highway QCs ...

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Bishop L. L. Pittman & the Sons of Christ (s/t EP)

Bishop L. L. Pittman & The Sons of Christ (self-titled EP, 2016) LEPITT Records By Bob Marovich Bishop Lenzo L. Pittman and the Sons of Christ are house hunting, but not on this planet. On “Mansion,” from the Stockton, California quartet’s self-titled four-track EP, the men are busy picking out their forever homes from the “many mansions” on high. “I don’t even know what color my room will be / Don’t even know what size it will be,” but it “belongs to me,” Bishop Pittman sings. The Sons of Christ—Bishop Pittman, Bishop David Cusic, Eddie Robertson, Johnnie Galloway, and Samuel ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 13, 2016

“Born Again” Kinsmen www.kinsmenmusic.com Kinsmen is a Chicago-area quartet of young men with old souls. Their single, “Born Again,” is an up-tempo celebration of spiritual renewal peppered with old-as-the-hills lyric couplets, all propelled by a hip-slapping gospel quartet beat.  At the same time, the musicians give the song a contemporary feel, as do the high tenor harmonies and sporadic appearance of electronics. Originally known as Youth Edition and rebranded as Kinsmen now that the members are young adults, the quartet is comprised of first cousins Kevin Vasser, Keith Vasser, Van Moody, and Reggie Tillman. Trust me when I tell you that, with ...

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JGM Pick of the week: December 6, 2016

“Operator 911” Chris Byrd & the Heavenaires From the album Diversified (released August 2016) Available from digital music outlets Chris Byrd and the Heavenaires dust off and update “Operator,” the Cleveland-based Friendly Brothers’ 1959 classic covered in the 1970s by a cappella vocal group the Manhattan Transfer.  In their hands, it is now known as “Operator 911.” It doesn’t matter that the telephone operator has gone the way of the telephone booth and directory assistance. With a funky, bass-driven beat and a call-and-response vamp (“It’s a matter of urgency / I’m calling 911”), the quartet makes it its own and ...

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Faithful Connection – Thank You

Faithful Connection Thank You (2015) www.faithfulconnection09.com By Bob Marovich Named Quartet CD of the Year at the 2016 Rhythm of Gospel Awards, Thank You is a ten-track album by Faithful Connection that blends traditional gospel quartet singing with modern musicianship. The Fredericksburg, Virginia, group pays homage to Tidewater quartet history through its tight harmonies that emphasize the mid-range versus high tenor or bass. The quartet’s harmonies are especially prominent on the title track and on “Come Too Far,” which opens with the classic open guitar strum and features a warbling organ as well as hard singing from guest lead James H. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 26, 2016

“Keep on Praising” Jewell & Converted Independent; release date: September 23, 2016 www.cdbaby.com/cd/jewellconverted The fiery female quartet Jewell & Converted score their second JGM Pick of the Week with “Keep On Praising.” To a handclapping tempo, lead singer Jewell Taylor offers hypothetical personal challenges as Converted responds by chanting “What do you do?” The collective reminds the listener of how the Scriptures answer this and puts it in the vernacular: “lift up your head,” “wear a smile,” and praise your way through. “Keep On Praising” is a traditional shouter near impossible to listen to sitting down, especially during the vamp, when ...

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Temple University Libraries honors Dixie Hummingbirds Guitarist Howard Carroll September 29

Philadelphia, PA, September 1, 2016 – September is Gospel Music Heritage Month, and on Thursday, September 29 at 2:00 p.m., the Blockson Collection of Temple University Libraries will present “Gospel Gold: The Golden Era of Gospel Music,” honoring legendary Dixie Hummingbirds guitarist Howard Carroll. Hosted by Gospel Highway Eleven (WNAP 1110 AM) Radio DJ Linwood Heath, the program will include gospel music by the Sons of the Birds and special guest speaker, the Reverend Joe Williams. Howard Carroll, affectionately known as the “Father of the Gospel Music Guitar,” is the oldest living member of the Dixie Hummingbirds gospel group. Mr. ...

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Crowns of Joy – Back to the Basics

Crowns of Joy Back to the Basics (private press – 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/thecrownsofjoy By Bob Marovich The Pheba, Mississippi-based Crowns of Joy’s Back to the Basics album promises “old school—new flavor.” It delivers on its promise, largely through its “Trumpology” medley of drive-tempo hits of the past. The Rhythm of Gospel Award-nominated Crowns of Joy was organized in 1980 by the late Reverend Tom Bill Avant, a veteran quartetter who was organizing singers back in the late 1950s when he presented a neighborhood group called the Five Gospel Wonders. Tommy and Victor Avant, Bud Townsend, and primary lead singer Wayne Wooten ...

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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, ...

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“Your Life’s About to Change” – The Canton Spirituals feat. Pastor Tim Rogers

“Your Life’s About to Change” The Canton Spirituals feat. Pastor Tim Rogers From the Malaco CD Keep Knocking (2016) www.malaco.com On “Your Life’s About to Change,” the veteran Canton Spirituals get down to spiritual brass tacks with able solo assistance from Pastor Tim Rogers (Tim Rogers & the Fellas). Turning on the story of a single mother struggling to care for her children, the assemblage rolls up its collective vocal sleeves, lays down a languid tempo, and sings about the one Father who knows how much we can bear and will never let us down. No prosperity theology here, no ...

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