5 Stars

San Franklin – The Free Project (Deluxe Version)

San Franklin The Free Project (Deluxe Version) Enon Music Group (release date: September 25, 2020) www.enonmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich From the spoken introduction, gospel singer San Franklin makes it clear that her debut solo CD, The Free Project, is about breaking free from self-bondage, from the chains of doubt, fear, and analysis paralysis we wrap around ourselves. After years of standing “twenty feet from stardom,” Franklin enters the spotlight for the entire program, demonstrating the vocal versatility that has made her a favorite featured vocalist. Even her act of stepping forward to occupy center stage fits with the CD’s ...

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DOE – DOE (EP)

DOE DOE (EP) Life Room / RCA Inspiration (release date: October 30, 2020) www.rcainspiration.com By Robert M. Marovich Gospel music enthusiasts first heard DOE (Dominique Jones) as lead singer and composer of “He Wants It All,” the debut single by twice GRAMMY-nominated forever JONES, her family’s gospel music ensemble. Since then, the winsome singer has gone solo, earning a third GRAMMY nomination for her collaboration with Jonathan McReynolds on the single, “Cycles.” Not surprisingly, as their musical styles are similar, DOE’s first solo EP is on McReynolds’ newly-formed label, Life Room, in partnership with RCA Inspiration. Like McReynolds, DOE is ...

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Jekalyn Carr – Changing Your Story Live!

Jekalyn Carr Changing Your Story Live! Lunjeal/The Orchard (release date: October 23, 2020) www.iamjekalyncarr.com By Bob Marovich Jekalyn Carr has achieved more by age 23 than most people will accomplish in a lifetime. With six Top 10 gospel singles under her belt, four hitting number one, plus several albums, a book, an e-course, acting credentials, Dove and Stellar awards, a GRAMMY nomination, and an endless stream of singing and speaking appearances, Carr is living proof of the power of her life-affirming messages. Recorded at Atlanta’s Praise in the Park event last October, Changing Your Story Live! is full of essentially ...

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Brian Courtney Wilson – Still

Brian Courtney Wilson Still Motown Gospel (release date: October 16, 2020) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Whether its messages are explicit or implicit, gospel music at its finest tells listeners of all beliefs—and even those with no belief—that hope is a beacon in the midst of hopelessness, encouragement exists for the discouraged, and comfort is available for the discomforted. Hope, encouragement, and comfort are in abundance on Still, GRAMMY-nominated Brian Courtney Wilson’s fifth and latest album. Its eight radio-sized and biblically-based songs are reassuring shoulder rubs, made all the more so by Wilson’s easy-on-the-ears baritone. For example, the contemplative title track ...

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PJ Morton: Gospel According to PJ

PJ Morton Gospel According to PJ Morton Inspiration / Tyscot (digital release date: August 14, 2020; physical release date: November 27, 2020) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Much is being made about Gospel According to PJ being PJ Morton’s return to gospel. But like the Reverend C. L. Franklin said of his GRAMMY-winning daughter Aretha, Bishop Paul S. Morton can say of his GRAMMY-winning son: he never really left the church. That’s because most of Gospel According to PJ is a re-introduction, in new arrangements, of sacred songs that Morton, a multi-genre musician, singer, songwriter and record producer, created for other ...

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Fisk Jubilee Singers – Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary Album)

Fisk Jubilee Singers Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary Album) Curb (release date: August 10, 2020) www.fiskjubileesingers.org By Bob Marovich On the eve of the sesquicentennial of its founding, the Fisk Jubilee Singers have released an album more musically and culturally diverse than any of its other recordings, going back more than a century. Founded in 1871 to raise funds for a young and financially-struggling Fisk University, the Fisk Jubilee Singers toured the U.S. and Europe, ultimately raising the needed funds but also triggering a jubilee-singing phenomenon emulated by other HBCUs as well as by commercial troupes. Jubilee singers also gave ...

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Nashville Life Music – Here for Jesus

Nashville Life Music Here for Jesus Integrity Music (release date: July 17, 2020) www.nashvillelifemusic.com By Bob Marovich Nashville Life Music follows up last year’s Taylor House Sessions EP with even more delightful selections on its debut full-length album, Here for Jesus. Nashville Life Music is a young multicultural choir/group out of Nashville Life Church, a congregation led by husband-and-wife team Alvin Love and multi award-winning gospel singer CeCe Winans Love. In its diversity and musical architecture, the troupe reflects the church’s mission. It offers hope that amity is not only preferable and possible, but is actually happening. This polished group ...

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Myron Butler – My Tribute

Myron Butler My Tribute Fair Trade / Columbia / Red Alliance Media (release date: June 26, 2020) By Bob Marovich Together with several of today’s top-flight gospel artists, singer-songwriter Myron Butler pays homage to one of his chief inspirations, Andrae’ Crouch, with a feature-filled album called My Tribute. All but one of the selections are Crouch originals, but with modern augmentations to make them relevant to today’s audience. And in all but one case, Butler duets or trades leads with the guest vocalists. That one cut, “All Things Well,” is a praise ballad and the album’s debut single. It’s a Butler ...

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Look to the Hills – Rev. Luther Barnes & the Restoration Worship Center Choir

Rev. Luther Barnes & the Restoration Worship Center Choir Look to the Hills Shanachie Entertainment / SRT Entertainment (release date: May 29, 2020) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Listening to the title track and lead single of Reverend Luther Barnes’ latest album, I revisited a thought I’ve had for some time: Barnes has emerged as today’s most important representative of traditional-flavored gospel music. The heartwarming and optimistic “Look to the Hills,” made all the more heartbreaking by the recent passing of its co-writer, Derrick Adams, is the latest in a string of hits crafted in the southern choir-tet sound, pioneered by ...

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Calvin Bridges – Gospel Church Generations

Calvin Bridges Gospel Church Generations PNEUMA / Spirit Recordings, Inc. (release date: October 8, 2019) By Bob Marovich Despite its unassuming packaging, Calvin Bridges’ Gospel Church Generations offers plenty of songs, old and new, for choir directors and worship leaders to teach their groups. Bridges, a singer, songwriter, director, and teacher, is perhaps best known for writing Albertina Walker’s career comeback song, “I Can Go to God in Prayer.” He’s written many other songs, too, and has fronted several groups. His new solo album, Gospel Church Generations, recorded live at Chicago’s historic Greater Harvest Baptist Church (Elder Eric Thomas, Pastor), ...

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