CDs

Zie’l – [Pronounced ZY-EL]

Zie’l [Pronounced ZY-EL] Dream Records (release date: September 2, 2014) www.dreamrecords.org By Bob Marovich I first encountered the power trio Zie’l of Shreveport, Louisiana, in 2005 at the Gospel Music Workshop of America. Hearing Christina Bell, Keyondra Lockett, and Crystal Bell sing traditional gospel songs like an old-school quartet with jazz training gave me a glimpse of their future success. Not long thereafter, their CD Genesis garnered a Stellar nomination. The trio’s latest album, [Pronounced ZY-EL], sounds like two albums in one. Six of the ten tracks represent a different style for Zie’l, almost experimental, with a mix of urban AC and ...

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Marilynn Dunn – God Will

Marilynn Dunn God Will Dunn’s Ministries (2014) www.Marilynndunnministries.com By Bob Marovich Singing in choirs since age eight, Marilynn Dunn of St. Louis released her third CD, God Will. It is a collection of personally-penned and personally-arranged compositions as well as covers of familiar gospel and CCM tunes. Dunn’s forte is traditional singing and specifically church selections that are to gospel singers what coloratura arias are to opera sopranos. To wit, Dunn includes two signature favorites among gospel soloists: Dottie Rambo’s “We Shall Behold Him” and Rev. Paul Jones’ “I Won’t Complain.” “I Press” is a bluesy neo-traditional song about one’s ...

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David Daughtry – David Daughtry

David Daughtry Self-Titled Karew Records/eOne Entertainment www.karewrecords.com By Bob Marovich It is fascinating how gospel music, a genre where the signature sound is brisk and exuberant, can be most beautiful when sung slowly and melodically. David Daughtry includes both the rapid and the measured on his impressive self-titled debut project. Although Daughtry delivers several fine uptempo selections on the album, the worshipful ballads “You Are” and the hypnotic “I Call Your Name” demonstrate his dexterous, earnest tenor. He launches falsetto notes well into the upper register and gets as high as Philippe Wynne (Spinners) on a cover of the Winans’ question-and-answer ...

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Tammy Smith – Instrument of Praise

Tammy Smith Instrument of Praise www.tammysmithgospel.com By Bob Marovich Instrument of Praise by Chicago’s Tammy Smith sandwiches slices of traditional singing between healthy helpings of contemporary gospel with a smooth jazz patina. Nowhere is this combination more apparent than on the two part “The Blood.” Smith begins by offering Andrae Crouch’s classic “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” in a traditional vein, consistent with the original, then switches to a modern interpretation on the second part. As a singer, Smith possesses a light soprano that becomes even more delicate on the top notes. Her style suits the album’s majority ...

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Sallie and Cora Martin – Just A Little Talk With Jesus

Sallie and Cora Martin Just A Little Talk with Jesus Gospel Friend (release date: September 16, 2014) www.cityhallrecords.com By Bob Marovich Sallie Martin, the Mother of Gospel Music, paved the way for those who paved the way. A no-nonsense singer, group leader, choir director, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Martin helped Thomas A. Dorsey sell his catalog of songs before going into business with Kenneth Morris in 1940 to form the Martin & Morris Music Studio. It is in 1940, when Sallie was a member of the Martin & Morris Singers, where Just A Little Talk With Jesus, Gospel Friend’s superb twelve-year ...

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Kevin LeVar and One Sound – Destiny-Live at the Dream Center…and More

Kevin LeVar and One Sound Destiny—Live at the Dream Center…and More OneSound Entertainment LLC (August, 2014) www.kevinlevar.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Kevin LeVar is among the new generation of male gospel crooners that includes Earnest Pugh, Micah Stampley, Keith Williams, and Brian Courtney Wilson. He also knows how to craft a memorable melody, as demonstrated by his singles, “A Heart That Forgives,” “We’re Only Getting Started,” and “You Are Not Alone.” Ballads have been, and continue to be, LeVar’s sweet spot, and he adds two more to his oeuvre on Destiny—Live at the Dream Center…and More. The songs, “Your Destiny” ...

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Gladys Knight – Where My Heart Belongs

Gladys Knight Where My Heart Belongs Shadow Mountain Records (release date: September 9, 2014) www.gladysknight.com By Bob Marovich Like many R&B and soul artists, the multi-Grammy winner Gladys Knight got her start in the church. It’s to the church she returns for her latest release, Where My Heart Belongs. The album finds Gladys Knight singing as strong as ever and delivering the selections in her signature tear-stained voice as if they were personal prayers or testimonies. Indeed, she has said, “I vividly remember the time in my life when I felt lost, as if something was missing. I was desperately seeking ...

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B. Chase Williams & ShaBach – Live Again: Bigger, Better, Greater

B. Chase Williams & ShaBach Live Again: Bigger, Better, Greater Dream Gospel / Capitol Christian Distribution (2014) www.bchasewilliams.com By Bob Marovich Organized in Cincinnati more than 20 years ago by singer/songwriter/musician B. Chase Williams, ShaBach is a full-throated choir that performs with zest. They follow their 2010 R3 –Redeemed! Reconciled! Released! with another rhythmically-titled album—Live Again: Bigger, Better, Greater. As with many albums by male-led small choir, the lead vocalists on Live Again add the sparkle that distinguishes this project from others. Several singers shine on Live Again, notably Terrence Cotton on the smooth jazzy and Whitfield-esque “My Everything;” Melodi ...

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Kebra – Under the Influence

Kebra Under the Influence Mokeb Entertainment (2014) www.kebramoore.com By Bob Marovich It is no understatement when, on her new EP Under the Influence, singer-songwriter Kebra Moore sings “I have a testimony.” On Christmas Eve 1999, Kebra, her fiancé, and fourteen-month-old son were heading home to Arkansas from New Orleans, where they were making final wedding preparations, when they were involved in an auto accident. While the fiancé and son escaped without injury, Kebra was left a paraplegic. Turning tragedy into possibility, Kebra became a spokesperson for the disabled. She was named Miss Wheelchair Mississippi 2013 and earlier this year launched ...

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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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