CDs

Fred Williams – Do a New Thing

Fred Williams Do a New Thing (independent; release date: March 17, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/fredwilliams32 By Bob Marovich Living the holy life appears to be the overriding theme of Fred Williams’ independently-produced Do a New Thing. On the title track, the Aiken, South Carolina, singer-songwriter and music minister references Isaiah 43:18-21 in showing gratitude for God’s plentiful blessings, as well as reminding us of our responsibility to do the right thing: pay the blessings forward. During “On this Journey,” he asks God to show him the way to holiness, a state of existence he examines in detail earlier in the CD on “A Holy Life.” Other songs, such ...

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Shanrae Cheree Price – Long Time Coming

Shanrae Cheree Price Long Time Coming DuRee Music Ministries, Inc. (release date: January 18, 2018) By Bob Marovich Given that Long Time Coming opens with Shanrae Cheree Price delivering the Reverend Paul Jones’ classic “I Won’t Complain” to a warbling B3 like a seasoned church singer, it’s not surprising that the listener would expect more of the same. But then the song shifts into a contemporary gear and you realize that Price has old school and new school vocal personalities. Also not surprising: Shanrae’s sister is none other than Kelly Price, the Grammy-nominated and Soul Train Award-winning R&B singer whose fourth album ...

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Christon Gray – Clear the Heir

Christon Gray Clear the Heir Fo Yo Soul/Essential Sound/RCA Inspiration (Sony Music) (release date: October 19, 2018) www.christongray.com By Bob Marovich Christon Gray has never been a shrinking violet when it comes to challenging the status quo of Christian music in style, arrangement, and lyric content. On Clear the Heir, his latest full-length offering, Gray drives forward the autobiographical narrative he began on his earlier releases with a frothy fusion of hip hop, rap, dramatic recitations, and even symphonic strings. Clear the Heir also contains some of Gray’s most radio-friendly work to date. The album’s provocative lyrics catch listeners up on the dramatic episodes in ...

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Soul Don’t Worry: Black Gospel During the Civil Rights Era, 1953-1967

Various Artists Soul Don’t Worry! Black Gospel During the Civil Rights Era, 1953-1967 NarroWay Records (release date: September 21, 2018) www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Soul Don’t Worry is the most ambitious project to date for NarroWay / Gospel Friend, the Sweden-based gospel reissue operation headed by producer Per Notini. In the past, Notini has focused on chronicling individual artists and labels, but this time he has taken on an entire era’s worth of gospel music. And not just any era, but one of the most significant of the twentieth century: the fight for civil rights in America. Some listeners might ...

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All Above North – How Great It Is To Be Broken

All Above North How Great It Is To Be Broken Northwest Records (2017) www.allabovenorth.com By Bob Marovich If Joy Division had made a Christian album, it might sound like How Great It Is To Be Broken. All Above North’s latest album is equal parts retro ‘80s and current-day EDM. Prayerful conversations with God—some cheerful, some expressing anxiety—receive ample helpings of electric confetti, at times bright and cheerful and at other times intense and dramatic. And thank God, the synth sounds like a synth and not like an artificial brass section or violins. From Sydney, Australia, the Christian indie rock band All Above ...

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Prof. Harold Boggs (and Lula Reed): Lord Give Me Strength

Prof. Harold Boggs (and Lula Reed) Lord Give Me Strength: Early Recordings 1952-1964 Gospel Friend Records (release date: September 21, 2018) www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Perhaps one reason Professor Harold Boggs is not as well remembered, or as appreciated, as his golden era contemporaries is his penchant for copying their sound. Seemingly bereft of a distinctive style of his own, Boggs, a blind singer, emulated the prevailing sound of gospel music. In other words, listening to Boggs on Per Notini’s superb compilation of the blind singer’s initial recordings is a gospel music history lesson in audio. You hear the influence of the expansive-voiced ...

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Bonita Burney Simmons – This Time

Bonita Burney Simmons This Time Bursimslow Music (release date: August 6, 2016) www.bonitaburneysimmons.com By Bob Marovich Bonita Burney Simmons has been compared to Tramaine Hawkins, but I hear more than a touch of Gladys Knight in her voice on her most recent album, This Time. Especially on the opening track, the mid-tempo “God’s People Arise.” Simmons possesses a creamy voice that only moves into evangelist territory when the spirit hits her, as on “I Must Tell Jesus.” This track finds her singing at her most inspired as she shares how she almost gave up. When she became too tired to fight, ...

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Elder Arlester Washington & the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir – Thank You

Elder Arlester Washington & the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir Thank You (EP) Pure Harvest Entertainment, 2014 859-233-4876 By Bob Marovich For decades, the mass choir movement has gathered together men and women of all ages and from a variety of denominations to fellowship in song. Though small in comparison to most mass choirs, the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir fits this definition. Organized in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1990, the choir’s most recent recording is a five-track EP called Thank You. The 2014 release features its leader, gospel music veteran Elder Arlester Washington. Back in the day, Washington sang and ...

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Apostle James Alston & Fellowship – The Movement

Apostle James Alston & Fellowship The Movement Independent (release date: August 10, 2013) By Bob Marovich Wooden church songs about faith, hope, and gratitude are at the heart of The Movement, the debut release by Portsmouth, Virginia’s Apostle James Alston & Fellowship. Although the name of the group suggests a male-led small choir, Apostle James Alston & Fellowship sounds to my ears like a mixed voice quartet. Shanita Bell is the lone female voice in the otherwise male group, with Apostle Alston delivering the meaty lead vocals that evoke the southern soul quartet tradition. How the group handles its two ...

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Cameron Ross – Power: Instrumental Praise & Worship

Cameron Ross Power: Instrumental Praise & Worship Cameron Ross Music (release date: April 19, 2018) www.cameronrossmusic.com By Bob Marovich Jazz saxophonist Cameron Ross’s sophomore album Power lives up to its subtitle. Ross renders contemporary Praise & Worship favorites in the smooth jazz format and then commences to improvise on their melodies on saxophone. Songs such as Israel Houghton’s “You Are Good,” Martha Munizzi’s “Glorious,” and William Murphy’s “You Reign” get this restful but restless treatment. Without lyric context, however, songs such as “Jump” and the title track are virtually indistinguishable from non-sacred jazz instrumentals. A music educator in the Memphis school system, Ross grew ...

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