CDs

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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Andrea McClurkin-Mellini – Higher

Andrea McClurkin-Mellini Higher Camdon Music (June 17, 2014) www.camdonmusic.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Sister of gospel star Pastor Donnie McClurkin, singer-songwriter Andrea McClurkin-Mellini is no newcomer to gospel music.  She was a member of the McClurkin Singers and a charter member of the New York Restoration Mass Choir.  She penned the title track to the family’s 2007 Gospocentric album, We Praise You.  Still, Higher represents her first full-length solo album, and it is an accomplished debut.  “God Can,” written by Pastor Donnie, is the album’s radio-friendly single, a song of faith and encouragement with plenty of ...

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Mr. Del & Rod G. Newman – Geeks & Gangstas

Mr. Del & Rod G. Newman Geeks & Gangstas Holy South/Geek World Entertainment/DMG (released April 1, 2014) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Although Mr. Del’s Hope Dealer just hit the streets, not long ago the Grammy and Dove-nominated Christian rapper from Memphis joined forces with Rod G. Newman of Birmingham, Alabama, to create Geeks & Gangstas.  The album, available at online music stores but also via free download from Noisetrade (tips welcome), plays the two artists’ styles off one another.  Newman is a bowtie-wearing self-described “Jesus Geek” and Del is the gruff-voiced, street-savvy former gangsta rapper.  Despite ...

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Disciples of Christ – Renewed Praise

Disciples of Christ Renewed Praise D.O.C. Productions/B.A.D. Entertainment Disciplesofchristgospel@gmail.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog From Houston, Texas, the Disciples of Christ is a family female traditional gospel quartet group with plenty of contemporary flair.   Evocative of Lisa Brown & the Knowles Singers and Vetrea Stack Ruffin & the Ruffin Family, the Disciples are two pairs of mothers and daughters:  Arlene Jackson Bell, Shirley Benson, Shaniece Cleveland, and Candice Jackson.  They won the Texas Gospel Excellence Award Female Group of the Year four years running, from 2010 to 2013, and are heading to Switzerland to appear in a ...

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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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