5 Stars

The Soul of Designer Records

Various Artists The Soul of Designer Records Big Legal Mess (2014) www.biglegalmessrecords.com By Bob Marovich In the days before YouTube and other social media outlets, before mp3s and CDs and music maker software for home computers, gospel artists looking for greater promotion but without a major label deal sought out the expertise of bootstrap entrepreneurs such as Idessa Malone and Style Wooten. While Malone recorded church choirs and radio preachers, Wooten recorded hundreds of black and white gospel artists for his Designer imprint. Wooten’s pitch was simple: for a flat rate, artists could make a studio recording and have copies of ...

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Smokie Norful – Forever Yours

Smokie Norful Forever Yours Tre Myles Music / Motown Gospel (2014) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Grammy Award-winning vocalist Smokie Norful burst upon the national stage in 2002 with the breakout hit, “I Need You Now.” The song, featuring Norful’s trademark melismatic tenor, not only garnered significant gospel radio airplay, but also made the playlist of nighttime Quiet Storm programming. A licensed minister even before his solo career took flight, Norful founded Victory Cathedral Worship Center in suburban Chicago in 2005 and has released at least three recorded sermons. Forever Yours, the latest fruit of his labors, explores new musical territory ...

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Ricky Dillard & New G – Amazing

Ricky Dillard & New G Amazing Light Records/eOne Entertainment  (release date: June 10, 2014) www.rickydillard.net By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Ricky Dillard was once the young turk on the gospel block.     Beginning in the late 1980s, Dillard and the New Generation Chorale, a Chicago gospel choir steeped in the full-throated tradition of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, Rev. James Cleveland, and Dr. Charles G. Hayes, offered up high-octane songs such as “More Abundantly” that other choirs were quick to emulate. Twenty-six years later, Dillard is a member of a circle of venerable choir directors that includes Pastor ...

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Pastor David Wright & the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir – Next Generation

Pastor David Wright & the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir Next Generation Godfather Records (released February 2014) godfatherrecordsinc@gmail.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Recorded live at Brooklyn’s historic First Church of God in Christ, Pastor David Wright and the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir’s Next Generation does more to preserve the legacy of Bishop Timothy Wright than any of their music projects to date. Several songs on the album are in fact Timothy Wright compositions.  One of the most popular, “Jesus Jesus Jesus,” closes out the CD.  “Come Thou Almighty King,” “Presence of the Lord,” and “Who’s On the ...

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Deitrick Haddon’s LXW (League of Xtraordinary Worshippers)

Deitrick Haddon’s LXW (League of Xtraordinary Worshippers) Tyscot Records (released April 22, 2014) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Deitrick Haddon and Tyscot Records want to bring the choir back.  To make manifest their pledge, they’ve released Deitrick Haddon’s LXW (League of Xtraordinary Worshippers).  The album not only celebrates the youthful verve of the gospel choir but features the talent of some of today’s most acclaimed directors. The League of Xtraordinary Worshippers sounds like a team of superheroes—indeed, those who purchase a hard copy of the DVD get an LXW comic book—but it’s a choir led by ...

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The Williams Singers – Destined

The Williams Singers Destined Deznell Music Group (rel. April 2014) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Not to be confused with the Williams Brothers of Mississippi, the Williams Singersis a quartet from Indianapolis, Indiana, the city that brought you, among other artists, Brown’s Inspirational Singers, Robert Turner and the Silver Hearts, and Al “the Bishop” Hobbs. Darnell, Dezrale, and Dezmien are the Indiana Williamses, and their new album, Destined, is one of the best gospel quartet albums I’ve heard this year.  You’ve got to love a group that name checks the Fairfield Four, the Dixie Hummingbirds, and the ...

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North Carolina Community Choir – A Story To Tell

North Carolina Community Choir A Story To Tell Malaco Records (2013) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog If there’s a choir to give the Mississippi and Chicago Mass Choirs a run for their money, it’s the North Carolina Community Choir. Formed initially to back the Sensational Nightingales on “Every Promise in the Book is Mine,” and Rev. F.C. Barnes and Darrell Luster on “(God Is God) He Won’t Change,” the group decided to become permanent.  Their debut album, A Story To Tell, is a masterful expression of the gospel choral sound. The album is loaded with traditional-style ...

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Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago – The Best of Both Worlds

Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago The Best of Both Worlds EMI Gospel/Inspired People (2012) www.emigospel.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog. It could not have been easy for Charles Jenkins to succeed the iconic Rev. Dr. Clay Evans as Pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago. Evans, a Civil Rights leader and founder of “The Ship,” had taken his church from very humble roots to one of the nation’s most significant religious institutions. Fellowship’s radio choir was no less celebrated than the church it represented. Directed at the beginning by Willie Webb and later by Evans’ sister, ...

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Frontlynaz – Game Over (Frontlynaz, Inc. 2008)

Frontlynaz Game Over Frontlynaz, Inc. 2008 www.frontlynaz.com Say what you will about Holy Hip Hop, but the Stellar-nominated HHH group Frontlynaz spits rhymes and drops beats with the power and urgency of a brakeless freight train. Their Game Over grabbed my attention and held it with clenched fists from beginning to end. Captivating and compelling, Frontlynaz has a lot to say about today’s state of affairs and how grace can transform a person from spiraling downward to an upwardly mobile (i.e., positive, not materialistic) life that means something and is, in itself, transformative. Just as importantly, the album dresses the ...

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