CDs

James Fortune – Dream Again

James Fortune Dream Again eOne Music / FIYA World Music (release date: August 23, 2019) www.entertainmentone.com By Bob Marovich I admit to having had significant misgivings when I was approached to review James Fortune’s new album, Dream Again. The gospel artist’s guilty pleadings to assaulting his wife Cheryl Fortune and earlier, to felony injury to his stepson, left me profoundly disappointed and angry. Why condone such behavior by acting as if it didn’t happen? My inkling was to never review his music again. Later, I read an article in which Fortune expressed remorse for what he had done and indicated ...

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Nikki Berry – Journey to Restoration

Nikki Berry Journey to Restoration Reviving Dreams Enterprises (release date: November 8, 2018) www.nikkiberrymusic.com By Bob Marovich Houston, Texas-based singer-songwriter Nikki Berry is one of the only gospel singers I know who also has a degree in mechanical engineering. I met Berry this summer at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards celebration in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she was crowned Ms. N.I.G.M.A. (National and Independent Gospel Music Awards). Journey to Restoration is her latest album. Striving and overcoming are the thematic strands that hold the project together and are, in her hands, the motive forces of achieving restoration. For example, “The ...

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Gene Moore – Tunnel Vision

Gene Moore Tunnel Vision Motown Gospel (release date: August 23, 2019) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich The nine radio-sized songs on Tunnel Vision, Gene Moore’s second album for Motown Gospel, focus on the importance of keeping the faith and maintaining hope that things will get better. While faith is a staple of Christian belief, it is a mainstay of human life, regardless of religious belief or lack of belief. The opener and radio single, “Won’t Be Moved,” begins laying out the album’s message of personal encouragement by riffing on the lyric motive of “I Shall Not Be Moved,” the gospel hymn ...

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BeBe Winans – Need You

BeBe Winans Need You Malaco Music Group / Regimen Records (release date: August 30, 2019) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich The gospel voice is not homogeneous. It is as varied in texture as the genre itself. While the paradigm of the gospel sound is the shouting or melismatic voice, smooth balladeers have been around since the beginning. Homer Quincy Smith of the Southernaires quartet and one of the first male African American gospel singers to record as a soloist, delivered his songs of Zion with operatic sonority. From there sprang the soothing sacredness of Robert Anderson, Bishop Charles Watkins and, in ...

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Camille Nelson – Sacred Lullabies

Camille Nelson Sacred Lullabies Heart Dance Records (release date: August 23, 2019) www.camillenelson.com By Bob Marovich Religious music comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be thunderous or austere, passionate or quiescent, joyful or somber. Regardless, for sacred music to be effective, it must, as Father of Gospel Music Thomas A. Dorsey once said, “prick the heart.” Sacred Lullabies, Utah musician Camille Nelson’s new collection of acoustic music, pricks the heart by drawing on folk, CCM, country, and Celtic influences. The album is as comforting as a loving embrace. In keeping with the title’s premise, many tracks are soothing ...

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Zak Williams & 1/Akord – The Next Chapter

Zak Williams & 1/Akord The Next Chapter Enon Music Group (release date: July 12, 2019) By Bob Marovich While the name Zak Williams & 1/Akord sounds like it might be a male-led gospel group, the group is actually a small choir. And on the group’s latest offering, The Next Chapter, the ensemble sings with the full-throated and thunderous sonority of a choir twice its size. The album, presented by Dr. Alyn E. Waller, Pastor of Philadelphia’s Enon Tabernacle Church and produced by Zak Williams, features songs written by a variety of songwriters, including Williams himself. “Unpredictable God” is the radio-friendly ...

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Reverend Lawrence Thomison – Going to Church

Reverend Lawrence Thomison Going to Church Dherico Music (release date: May 26, 2019) www.revlawrencethomison.com By Bob Marovich Going to Church, the latest release by the Reverend Lawrence Thomison, lives up to its billing. Produced by Derrick Lee for Dherico Music, Going to Church is an album of songs rendered in an older style by the full-throated Cedric Sesley & Out 4 Souls choir and soloist Thomison, who demonstrates that he can shout and squall like a quartet singer-turned-Baptist preacher. Despite the album’s old-school modality, the rhythm section, and especially Kenny Jackson’s thumping bass, keeps the musical body firmly fixed in ...

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VaShawn Mitchell – Elements

VaShawn Mitchell Elements Fair Trade / Columbia (release date: August 9, 2019) www.vashawnmitchell.com By Bob Marovich More than other styles of sacred music, Praise and Worship tends to focus on the elements. For example, the music creates an “atmosphere” for worship, while song lyrics use wind, water, and fire as metaphors for the presence, or anticipated presence, of the Holy Ghost and the “showering” of blessings. Nowhere is this more evident than on worship leader VaShawn Mitchell’s new album, Elements. The title of his first album in three years telegraphs the use of the earth’s substances to describe the descent ...

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Kurt Carr – Bless Somebody Else

Kurt CarrBless Somebody ElseRCA Inspiration (release date: July 19, 2019)www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich In what may well be the most heartrending introduction you will hear on a gospel album this year, Praise & Worship pioneer Kurt Carr uses the opening moments of his new CD, Bless Somebody Else, to relate the final moments he spent at the deathbed of gospel great Andrae Crouch. Squeezing Carr’s hand, Crouch, who in his early days encountered no small amount of criticism for contemporizing church music, entreats his protégé to always lift the name of Jesus in his songs. From there, Carr and the ...

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Nashville Life Music – The Taylor House Sessions (EP)

Nashville Life Music The Taylor House Sessions (EP) Integrity Music (release date: May 24, 2019) www.nashvillelifemusic.com By Bob Marovich From the loping tempo and bass-heavy opening of the single “My God,” and the playful use of auto-tune by Byron Chambers (aka Mr. Talkbox) as a medium for scatting and raising lyric lines, you know that Nashville Life Music has soul. The overall feeling of the group’s Taylor House Sessions EP, recorded at the Taylor House Studio in East Nashville, Tennessee, and especially given the cheering and applause between selections, is of a relaxed communal singalong powered by a throbbing rhythm ...

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