CDs

Eric Thomas – Keep On Climbin’

Eric Thomas Keep On Climbin’ Self-released (2009) www.cdbaby.com/cd/ethomasmusic By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Keep On Climbin’ by Chicago singer Eric Thomas could easily be subtitled “With the Sons of Chicago Gospel Legends.” That’s because Richard Gibbs (Inez Andrews’s son), Bryant Jones (Rev. Billy Jones and Jeanette Robinson Jones’s son), and Joey Woolfalk (Johnny Woolfalk’s son) are among the album’s musicians.  And to top things off, the legendary Gene Barge (Checker Records) produced the album and plays sax on one track.  Eric Thomas can call such leading lights together because he is no stranger to Chicago music.  He ...

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Minister L. Jones – Hallelujah to His Name

Minister L. Jones Hallelujah to His Name Sharper Brothers (released January 16, 2014) www.sharprecordsusa.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog If I were a betting man (I’m not), I’d wager that the early work of Commissioned and the Winans had more than a smidgen of influence on the singing style of Minister Lorenza “LoJo” Jones of Birmingham, Alabama.  They and ’80s soul balladeers Billy Ocean and Jeffrey Osborne. This is the mix you experience on Minister Jones’ solo album, Hallelujah to His Name.  The ten tracks have a back-to-the-Eighties vibe, mixed with a preacher’s penchant for declarative instruction. ...

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Tim Spady & Inspiration – Just Believe

Tim Spady & Inspiration Just Believe Tspady Music Productions (released May 27, 2014) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Songwriter and keyboardist Tim Spady’s new album, Just Believe, is a compilation of songs, most of which deal with faith, endurance, overcoming, and victory through the simple but often difficult act of unquestioning belief. Spady’s calling card is his melodicism: inventive and hypnotic on the opening track, “Joy Will Come in the Morning,” and bursting with scrumptious harmonies on the single, “You Give Me.”  His gospel music contains as much pop-classical influence as it does R&B and soul.     Members ...

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Jay Bratten – Hymns My Way

Jay Bratten Hymns My Way Jay Bratten 2014 www.cdbaby.com/cd/jaybratten By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog On Hymns My Way, bassist Jay Bratten, his fellow musicians, and a team of guest vocalists offer an hour of instrumental and vocal rearrangements of well-known hymns and gospels that represent the foundation of church music.  The album chugs along from one track to the next, alternating between smooth jazz, new age, easy listening, fusion, and contemporary gospel.  The blend works despite the variation in styles. “Leanin’,” known also as “What a Fellowship,” is a pick-me-upper with an Earth Wind & Fire meets ...

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Elain Thomas – Songs in the Key of Jazz

Elain Thomas Songs in the Key of Jazz (2013) www.reverbnation.com/elainthomas By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Despite the well-worn argument about “devil’s music” vs. “God’s music,” gospel and jazz and blues—and now rock, soul, R&B and pop—are intertwined, fruits from the same musical tree.  Elain Thomas’ self-produced Songs in the Key of Jazz employs a smooth jazz patina, and a dab of small combo intimacy, to express inspirational messages through this popular medium. Thomas’s vocals are breezy, light, relaxed.  Sometimes she likes to leap around the stave, hitting notes with staccato force like a hammer to a xylophone, as ...

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Shirlene Jackson – Wow

Shirlene Jackson Wow CRNI (2011) Available at CD Baby By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Wow is a self-produced five-track EP by Shirlene Jackson of New Edinburg, Arkansas.  A capable gospel singer who proved her merit in 2005 by winning the Gospel Talent Showcase in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Jackson’s calling card is lofting soprano notes over the musical fence when the spirit moves her.  More than any other track on the EP, her debut solo project, Jackson shows what she can do on “I Found Jesus.”  Written by Darrell McFadden of Disciples fame, “I Found Jesus” has the ...

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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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Christon Gray – School of Roses

Christon Gray School of Roses Collision Records (release date: March 25, 2014) www.collision-records.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Christon Gray’s School of Roses may be the most unusual, and the most cerebral, inspirational project you have ever heard. It’s less gospel in its typical structure and more a personal testimony, an album of high hip hop drama clearly designed to be listened to start to finish, rather than as interchangeable singles or selections. The music and lyrics are moody and introspective. An aura of deep regret and an unending desire for redemption permeates every note. The struggle ...

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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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Minister Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny – I’m Still Here

Minister Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny I’m Still Here (released November, 2013) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Minister Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny of Blytheville, Arkansas, are young men with old souls.  This is evident by the traditional bent of the quartet’s new self-produced CD, I’m Still Here. Rogers is the quintessential quartet lead.  He sings, shouts, growls, moans, ad libs, testifies, and preaches.  The Men of Destiny—Jeremy Myles, Torey Leonard, and Shannon Lyons—do the high harmonies made popular by the Violinaires in the 1950’s and that continue to dominate gospel quartet today (the bass guitar ...

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