5 Stars

Tasha Cobbs – One Place Live

Tasha Cobbs One Place Live Motown Gospel (release date: August 21, 2015) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Recorded before nearly 3,000 worshippers at Redemption Church in Greenville, South Carolina, singer-songwriter Tasha Cobbs’ One Place Live is a solid follow-up to her number one CD, Grace. It actually surpasses the multi-award-winning debut album, as the worship songstress sounds more vocally confident than ever before. On One Place Live, produced by label-mate VaShawn Mitchell, Cobbs doesn’t as much lead as direct or orchestrate the flow of praise and worship. Song transitions are effortless and create a worship experience that is nigh perfect in its ...

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AsOne – s/t

AsOne AsOne 360 MusicWorx/Capitol Christian Distribution/Universal Music Group (release date: June 23, 2015) www.AsOneOfficial.com By Bob Marovich Interracial gospel/sacred singing groups go back more than a century—from the days of Polk Miller & the Old South Quartette at the turn of the twentieth century to Homer Rodeheaver’s singing with the African American Wiseman Sextette; and from Gene Viale (of Puerto Rican heritage) in the Cleveland Singers, Elizabeth Meagher in the Exodus Singers, and the multicultural Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. The color of the skin counts less than the color of the voice, and there are rich hues in the voices and ...

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Fannie Lou Hamer – Songs My Mother Taught Me

Fannie Lou Hamer Songs My Mother Taught Me Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (release date: June 30, 2015) www.folkways.si.edu By Bob Marovich While it took a recent act of domestic terror for the polarizing Confederate flag to begin coming down throughout the South, let us not forget that much of the way was paved more than a half-century ago by such freedom fighters as Fannie Lou Hamer. Hamer, who died in 1977 at age 59, is renowned for her leadership in the Civil Rights movement and specifically for her work with the Mississippi Freedom Party. Equally well known, albeit a sidebar to ...

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Casey J – The Truth

Casey J The Truth Marquis Boone Enterprises/Tyscot Records (released April 21, 2015) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich The next best thing to a live gospel music program is listening to a live gospel music program on a recording. That’s why it was smart for Casey J to release her debut album, The Truth, as a live worship experience.  And on home turf: the recording took place on January 30, 2015, at Fresh Start Church in Duluth, Georgia, where Casey is morning worship leader. Casey J. Hobbs, known as Casey J, is the newest rising star in gospel music. Her debut single, ...

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The Fairfield Four – Still Rockin’ My Soul

The Fairfield Four Still Rockin’ My Soul Fairfield Four Records (2015) www.thefairfieldfour.com By Bob Marovich In 1925, when the Fairfield Four organized in Nashville, Tennessee, quartet singing was done a cappella. No instruments, just the human voice.  And God saw that it was good. No–great. Over the years, quartets added to the mix an ever-expanding combo of guitar, piano, organ, drums, electric bass, and synthesizer until the music threatened to overpower the vocal harmonies. Whether or not you are a fan of quartet singing with music, we can agree that there’s something seriously magical about hearing a cappella vocal singing. ...

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Damien Sneed feat. the Levites – Broken to Minister: The Deluxe Edition

Damien Sneed Featuring the Levites Broken To Minister: The Deluxe Edition LeChateau Earl Records (release date: March 3, 2015) www.lechateauearl.com By Bob Marovich Recorded live in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2013, Broken To Minister: The Deluxe Edition builds on Damien Sneed and the Levites’ previously released Broken To Minister EP. The classically- and church-trained Sneed is a member of the orchestral school of gospel music populated by artists such as Richard Smallwood, Donald Lawrence, and the late Thomas Whitfield. In this school, lush, dense vocal harmonies combine with astute songwriting and arranging to present gospel music at its most contemporary while ...

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Mississippi Mass Choir – Declaration of Dependence

Mississippi Mass Choir Declaration of Dependence Malaco Records (2014) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Halfway through Declaration of Dependence, the Mississippi Mass Choir’s latest album, I realized that the choir has inherited the mantle once worn by the celebrated Thompson Community Singers. Just as music ministers could not wait for the latest Tommies album to discover new songs and arrangements to teach their church choirs, Mississippi Mass Choir albums offer the same opportunity for today’s directors. Miss Mass hits such as “He’ll Carry You,” “God Made Me,” and “When I Rose This Morning” went from CD to choir lofts around the ...

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Liz Vice – There’s a Light

Liz Vice There’s A Light Deeper Well Records (2014) http://deeper-well.com/artists/liz-vice/ By Bob Marovich Liz Vice may not sound like your average gospel singer, but then again, she’s not your average gospel singer. On her CD, There’s a Light, the Portland, Oregon-based singer delivers personal inspirational messages to God and to the listener with the raw intensity of Mavis Staples and the soulful confidence of Norah Jones. The album’s ten songs are fresh and inviting, the lyrics poetic, the small band tight and suited to Vice’s voice like bacon to eggs, and the trimmed-down arrangements are like long lost tapes straight ...

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DeWayne Woods – Life Lessons

DeWayne Woods Life Lessons Soul Therapy Music Group (release date: February 3, 2015) dewaynewoods.rocks By Bob Marovich Excellent songwriting, compelling melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and powerful singing combine to make Life Lessons DeWayne Woods’s best project to date. The album is fueled by a team of top-shelf songwriters, such as PJ Morton (son of Bishop Paul S. Morton), Donald Lawrence, Gerald and Tammi Haddon, and Estee Bullock, a founding member of Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir. Some of Woods’s most cogent life lessons on this, his first album in four years, can be found on “They Said…” and ...

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Soul Stirrers – Joy in My Soul: The Complete SAR Recordings

Soul Stirrers Joy in My Soul: The Complete SAR Recordings ABKCO Records (release date: January 27, 2015 www.abkco.com By Bob Marovich The first ABKCO compilation of Soul Stirrers recordings on the legendary SAR Records was released more than a decade ago. With sixteen tracks, the Stirrers had the lion’s share of sides on the gospel portion of that two-CD set, but that was all; the rest of the set needed to feature other SAR artists. Gospel quartet enthusiasts as well as Soul Stirrers fans will therefore appreciate Joy In My Soul because it is all Soul Stirrers. And of the 33 selections ...

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