Reviews

Maverick City x Kirk Franklin – Kingdom Book One

Maverick City x Kirk Franklin Kingdom Book One Tribl Records / Fo Yo Soul / RCA Inspiration (release date: June 17, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Maverick City Music, gospel’s current “it” group, joined with the venerable Kirk Franklin, no stranger to special event gospel projects, to bring music and ministry to 1,300 Florida inmates. Kingdom Book One is the result. Recorded at the Everglades Correctional Institution in Miami, the album showcases MCM / Chandler Moore compositions and Franklin classics, a weary-sounding Franklin punctuating the communal singing and worship with exhortations, preaching moments, and Biblical lessons. Talented vocalists like Naomi ...

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JGM Pick of the Week:  June 27, 2022

“That Name Is Jesus” Beloved St. John Evangelistic Church Independent (2022) www.BelovedStJohn.org By Robert M. Marovich As long as Pastor Clement M. Lumpton III and the Beloved St. John Evangelistic Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, keep on singing, the church choir will remain relevant. On its latest single, “That Name is Jesus,” the choir celebrates the name and the intercession of Jesus with a traditional-sounding melody and arrangement complete with a backbeat supported by handclapping. A delightfully raspy-voiced female lead vocalist conducts a call-and-response with the choir. It’s especially effective during a litany of the many names of Jesus. Founded in ...

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Gospel, Vol. 6: Female Gospel Groups 1940 – 1962

Various Artists Gospel, Vol. 6: Female Gospel Groups 1940-1962 Fremeaux & Associes (2022) http://www.fremeaux.com By Robert M. Marovich If it weren’t for women, there might not be gospel music as we know it today. A gutsy statement, but accurate. For every Thomas Dorsey, Theodore Frye, and James Cleveland, there were dozens of women who, denied access to the pulpit through denominational fiat, made sacred music their evangelistic outlet. Two of gospel’s first superstars, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mahalia Jackson, were women. The history books brim with the names of female pioneers in gospel music, among them Sallie Martin, Roberta Martin ...

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JGM Pick of the Week – June 20, 2022

“He is the King” M. Cornelius Wyche & Octave Praise From the Enon Music Group album The Script (release date: January 14, 2022) www.enonmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich On their latest single, “He is the King,” M. Cornelius Wyche & Octave Praise worship the Lord, who is the antidote for the depression and despondency brought on by the extended pandemic. Along with featured soloists Dr. Kevin Bond and Pastor Suzie Wright, the choir delivers its worship with heavy harmonies and throaty vibrato, while the rhythm section pounds the beat deep into the earth. Pastor Suzie Wright of Zion Apostolic Christian ...

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JGM Pick of the Week – June 13, 2022

“Nothing Else Matters (Instead of Complaining, Praise Him)” Brent Jones JDI Records By Robert M. Marovich Brent Jones’ latest single, “Nothing Else Matters,” is a four-minute festival of praise set to a bouncy mid-tempo arrangement featuring Jones and the full-throated choir in call-and-response. “I don’t care who’s looking at me,” Jones declares, preparing to get his praise on as the choir handclaps. “Nothing Else Matters” follows “Open Your Mouth and Say Something,” a Billboard chart-topper for more than 54 weeks, earning Dove and Stellar Award nominations. While the new single is less complex than “Mouth,” the big choir sound and ...

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“Thank You” – David Walker and High Praise

“Thank You” David Walker and High Praise ENON / The Key of David Music Group (release date: April 29, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich After a frenetic prog fusion intro, David Walker’s fulsomely-rendered “Thank You” settles into a contemporary male-led choir groove. High Praise offers full-throated support for Walker as he transitions into a preacher’s ferociousness, offering praise and thanksgiving for, well, everything. The single, written by James Ziegler, features conventional lyrics that explode with youthful vitality that bounces off the walls of the speakers. Though the choir hails from Atlanta, it has the intensity of East Coast choirs like ...

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Marvin Sapp – Substance

Marvin Sapp Substance Elev8 Media & Entertainment / Thirty Tigers (release date: June 10, 2022) www.marvinsapp.com By Robert M. Marovich “There is no failure in God” is an apt summation of the thematic content of Substance, Bishop Marvin Sapp’s 15th album and latest solo effort. Though varied in arrangement, the songs essentially come back around to messages of faith in God as the rock in a weary land. Examples of the album’s varied musical palette include “Serve the Lord,” which Sapp calls a song “for my mother.” It has a smooth modern quartet sound with the classic kick drum backbeat, ...

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Avalon Worship – s/t

Avalon Worship Avalon Worship Red Street Records (release date: May 20, 2022) www.redstreetrecords.com By Robert M. Marovich The artist formerly known as Avalon that recorded for Sparrow Records starting in 1995 has rebranded itself as Avalon Worship and just released its first album under the new moniker for Red Street Records. The name change positions them among the worship collectives that have been making noise in gospel music as of late. Produced by Don Koch, the eleven-track self-titled package combines currently-popular worship favorites with original compositions, all radio-sized and radio-ready, and done in the thunderous and dramatic CCM pop ballad ...

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JGM Pick of the Week – June 6, 2022

“Majestic One” Katy Weirich Independent (release date: January 14, 2022) https://katyweirich.com/ By Robert M. Marovich A life filled with ups and downs, joys and sorrows, depression and happiness informs the songs and singing of Katy Weirich. A young vocalist and worship leader who evokes Lauren Daigle and Hillsong’s Brooke Fraser, Weirich offers the praise power ballad “Majestic One.” Set to a panoramic arrangement and grounded by pounding drums, “Majestic One” is an anthem that articulates, in twenty-first century musical language, the gushing litany of Isaiah 9:7. More to come from Weirich, as her EP, Out of the Blue, is slated ...

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Pastor Dewayne Charleston – Don’t Wait

Pastor Dewayne Charleston Don’t Wait JJ Music Media (release date: April 1, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Although Pastor Dewayne Charleston’s Don’t Wait is a solo project, the soulful singing, the quartet harmonies, the wooden church spirituality, and the traditional-leaning arrangements endow it with the spirit of a quartet CD. In this case, the quartet harmonies supporting Charleston are handled by a duo, Jerome Larkin and Dion Bell. Assisting the singers is a team of steady-handed musicians led by Jerald “JJ” Griffin, who manages multiple duties on bass guitar, keys, horns, and strings. The album’s current single is the easy-loping ...

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