CDs

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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Sherry Songbird – Made For You

Sherry Songbird Made for You Family First Productions (2014) www.sherrysongbird.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Sherry Songbird’s sophomore release is an EP called Made For You. The six selections are sunny vertical praise songs written by Songbird, and the understated instrumentation, led by acoustic piano and guitar, spotlights her light but passionate soprano. Set to a robust string section, the title track expresses the joy of accepting Christ. Although the rests in the music pause too long for comfort, and the tempo could be quicker, Songbird delivers the lyrics with appropriate drama and stave-jumping notes that earned her stage name. While ...

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Joe Douglass & Spirit of Praise – Redemption

Joe Douglass & Spirit of Praise Redemption Daveshand Productions (2014) www.joedouglassministries.com By Bob Marovich Joe Douglass & Spirit of Praise pulls out all the stops on Redemption. Douglass, a twenty-five-year-old Californian, organized Spirit of Praise a few years ago. The group released a single, “It Belongs to You,” in April 2012 and subsequently recorded Redemption, their debut live CD. It was released in June 2014. A lineup of gospel stars populates the album, although they were not necessary, as SOP is a strong vocal organization in its own right. A better than average “&” group in a galaxy 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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Eddie Reddic – Above All

Eddie Reddic Above All Reddic Records (2014) Available at CD Universe By Bob Marovich Above All, the third album from Houston, Texas, native Eddie Reddic, ties traditional lyrics to contemporary sounds and resourceful arrangements. For example, Reddic gives the church classic “I’m a Soldier” a deep, funky treatment, while “Lead Me to the Rock” flows with a modern flair. Another congregational favorite, “What He’s Done For Me,” puts a heightened praise break-style tempo to a quartet sensibility. All eight of the songs on the album contain flavors of jazz, R&B, and contemporary gospel. What Eddie Reddic demonstrates above all on ...

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Thank You For All You’ve Done – Beverly Crawford

Beverly Crawford Thank You For All You’ve Done EchoPark JDI (2014) www.EchoParkJDI.com By Bob Marovich Hearing Beverly Crawford sing is always exciting. Hearing Beverly Crawford sing live is even more so. That’s what the listener gets on Thank You For All You’ve Done. A live recording done at Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, Thank You demonstrates how Crawford can shout and squall in the tradition of Shirley Caesar, Dorothy Norwood, and various other Caravans. Indeed, she opens the set with a ‘Vans (and Shirley Caesar) chestnut, “Sweeping Through the City.” Throughout the album, Crawford intersperses newer, praise ...

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Mark Yandris – A Sound for God’s House

Mark Yandris A Sound for God’s House Released June 16, 2014 Available at Amazon, iTunes, etc. By Bob Marovich Mark Yandris is a brother from another mother. Like me, he has Slavic roots and family ties to the Calumet Region south of Chicago. Whereas our family remained in Da Region, Yandris’s family moved to the Bay Area.  He grew up in the Gospel Music Workshop of America and his father’s First Apostolic United Pentecostal Church.  While other fifteen-year-olds and I were trying desperately to learn a few chords on the guitar, Yandris had already formed his first gospel choir. His ...

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Bryan Andrew Wilson – The One Percent

Bryan Andrew Wilson The One Percent Bryan’s Songs Records / EchoPark JDI www.bryanwilson.com By Bob Marovich Rarely do we have a chance to hear child singers grow up on record. There are exceptions, most notably Michael Jackson, who got better with age, and Judy Garland, whose voice seemed to have matured prior to puberty. We first heard Bryan Andrew Wilson in 1994 as a pre-teen leading “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” with the Mississippi Children’s Choir.  His voice has matured steadily since then and it has come to full flower on “Show Me Your Glory/Set a Fire,” a CCM inspired ...

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The Heart of Nancey Jackson Johnson

Nancey Jackson Johnson The Heart of Nancey Jackson Johnson Camdon Music 2014 www.CamdonMusic.com By Bob Marovich I have enjoyed listening to Nancey Jackson Johnson solo on several projects over the past few years, beginning with “Lead Me to the Rock,” from Rev. Stef & Jubilation’s 2006 The Launch Out Project.   Nancey’s powerfully expressive voice adds luster to just about any song. Naturally, therefore, I was quite eager to hear her debut solo CD, The Heart of Nancey Jackson Johnson, released on Donnie McClurkin’s Camdon Music imprint. The album, released last month, contains songs with worship lyrics set to contemporary gospel with ...

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Chanel – Trin-i-tee 5:7 According to Chanel

Chanel Trin-i-tee 5:7 According to Chanel Obsidian Records (release date: June 17, 2014) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Chanel’s solo debut, Trin-i-tee 5:7 According to Chanel, deserves the superlative “CD Most Likely to Be Released as Vinyl.”  The art design by Shamael Lataillade focuses on paisley-bracketed images of Chanel Haynes Schwartz and a record player so old it still bears the 16 speed.  The CD is deigned to look like a 45 rpm record, and indeed the songs, all with one word titles, are radio-sized and have the punchy drive of 1970s and 1980s soul hits.  So ...

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