CDs

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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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, ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

Angelo & Veronica: The Original Recordings, 1990-1991

Angelo & Veronica The Original Recordings, 1990-1991 A&V Music (release date: April 25, 2022) www.angeloandveronica.com By Robert M. Marovich Christian music duo Angelo & Veronica’s recent release, The Original Recordings: 1990-1991, could easily have been titled (with deference to Dylan) The Basement Tapes. The twelve-track collection was recorded in Angelo Petrucci’s mother’s basement in 1990 and 1991, prior to the duo’s signing with the Benson Company and the company’s subsequent decision to hire another producer for the group’s debut album. The basement tape was long forgotten until Angelo came across it in his garage, not the worse for wear. Indeed, ...

Read More »

Michele Thomas – The Assumption

Michele Thomas The Assumption Soulstream Music (release date: March 25, 2022) www.michelethomasmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich First of all, the title of The Assumption, jazz singer Michele Thomas’s third album, is a play on words. By referencing the Roman Catholic Church’s belief (assumption) that Mary, mother of Jesus, departed immediately to heaven upon death, she puts a sacred touch on the project’s point: trust. Second, Thomas combines her experience as a church singer, which included forming the gospel choir at North Park University, with her jazz career. The result is a sound as easy as Sunday morning but with messages ...

Read More »

Tommy Walker – Generation Hymns 3

Tommy Walker Generation Hymns 3 (release date: March 18, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich On Generation Hymns 3, worship leader, singer, and songwriter Tommy Walker teams with the Bethesda Community Church Choir and several featured vocalists to bind the hymnbook in a new cover. The Bethesda choir has a smiley Jesus People vibe. Indeed, the choir, Walker, the featured vocalists, and the robust rhythm section are uniformly upbeat, even on the album’s more sensitive selections like “He Leadeth Me” and “At the Cross.” For his part, Walker possesses a warm, friendly baritone voice that conjures Michael Buble and Harry Connick ...

Read More »

Damara Melissa – Beginnings (EP)

Damara Melissa Beginnings (EP) (release date: February 24, 2022) www.damaramelissa.com By Robert M. Marovich From Whitby, Ontario, singer-songwriter Damara Melissa evokes CCM singers Jamie Grace, Tori Kelly, and Nicole C. Mullins. Following a few recent singles, Beginnings is her first EP. Commencing her writing career to channel her emotions after the passing of her father, Damara expresses in the pop-flavored songs on Beginnings the intimacy of a soul transitioning from hurting to healing, from vulnerability to victory. The prayerful and self-empowering “Brave” is the current streaming favorite, but to my ears, “Invisible” is the EP’s highlight. This ballad about a ...

Read More »

Lawrence Hancock – Don’t Stop Caring

Lawrence Hancock Don’t Stop Caring Independent / Symphonic Distribution (release date: April 29, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Don’t Stop Caring is Bishop Lawrence Hancock once again baring his soul and sharing the raw truth from the pulpit of experience. The Stellar-nominated Christian hip hop artist’s eighth album builds on his distinctive style of delivery: an atmospheric kaleidoscope of computer-generated electronica and rhythm supporting stream of consciousness lyricism. As such, Hancock is like a sacred version of a beat poet. As on 2020’s Who I Am and last year’s Need of You, Hancock prays out loud in a pleading, multi-tracked ...

Read More »