CDs

Donna LiZa – Makin’ the Level

Donna LiZa Makin’ the Level www.facebook.com/officialdonnaliza By Bob Marovich On “He’s Got the Answer,” the concluding cut on her eight-selection solo CD Makin’ the Level, Donna LiZa gives us an autobiographical glimpse of a pivotal moment in her life. Originally from New Orleans, Donna lost everything in Hurricane Katrina and became part of the post-hurricane migration to Texas. She moved to Arlington and began singing with Bishop Greg O’Quin and iPraise. The group’s musically multi-faceted After the Storm (2009), on which Donna led “I Appreciate U,” earned five stars from the Journal of Gospel Music. Bishop O’Quin produced Donna’s solo ...

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Gregory Brown with the Abundant Life Music Ministry – 29:11

Gregory Brown with the Abundant Life Music Ministry 29:11 The Levite Music Group (2013) www.cdbaby.com/cd/gregorybrown22 By Bob Marovich Released November 3, 2013, 29:11 is the product of Birmingham, Alabama choir Gregory L. Brown and the Abundant Life Music Ministry. The title refers to Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” In alignment with this message, Brown’s objective for the CD is to “speak life and minister wholeness to broken hearts.” While the album meets this objective ...

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JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise – I See Victory

JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise I See Victory Light Records (October 28, 2014) www.lightrecords.com By Bob Marovich Recorded at the First Cathedral in Bloomfield, Connecticut, I See Victory is the seventh live CD for JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise and, with seventeen tracks, the group’s most ambitious release to date. The choir, perhaps best known for the gospel hit, “Incredible God, Incredible Praise,” can claim musical roots in the ministry of Bishop J. C. White and the Institutional Church of God in Christ Choir. Institutional’s “Stretch Out (When Jesus Comes)” was a major gospel hit in 1967 (read more about the influence ...

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Evang. Nelson Larkins & God’s Posse – The Kind of God We Serve: Live in Chicago

Evangelist Nelson Larkins & God’s Posse The Kind of God We Serve: Live in Chicago TREWWORKS Music Group/Deznell Music Group (2011) www.cdbaby.com/cd/nelsonlarkinsgodsposse By Bob Marovich It is always a pleasure to hear a live gospel quartet album that truly captures the excitement of a group having church. Such an album is The Kind of God We Serve by Chicago-based Evangelist Nelson Larkins & God’s Posse. Although the group’s name gives the impression that it is a contemporary small choir, make no mistake: Nelson Larkins & God’s Posse is a rompin’, stompin’ quartet that is 70 percent traditional, 30 percent contemporary ...

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Natasha Gray – Born

Natasha Gray Born Jeneyus Productions (2014) www.NatashaGrayArea.com By Bob Marovich Natasha Gray’s debut album, Born, is what I would term “progressive gospel.” Somewhat like a portion of Zi’el’s recent project, Pronounced ZY-EL, Born wraps inspirational songs in ambient soundscapes of electronica and beat with occasional rock flourishes. Gray (Natasha Simmons) has a simmering voice, at times sensuous, and she is nothing if not consistently deliberate in lyric delivery. She sings her prettiest on “Make Me Over,” an a cappella song of personal conversion. She delivers her most powerful vocals on the album’s lead single, “Just Know God Cares.”  The latter ...

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Minister C.L. Johnson – Favor

Minister C.L. Johnson Favor Doowgam Records (2011) http://wreg.weebly.com/index.html By Bob Marovich Given Minister Craig L. Johnson’s career as a member of several gospel quartets, most notably the Pilgrim Wonders of Toledo, the Revelations of Cincinnati and, most recently, his reformation of the Flint Cavaliers, it’s not surprising his solo album, Favor, sounds more like a quartet album. Johnson’s background vocalists are male and female, but they support him like a male quartet. Favor’s strongest selection is “Havin’ Church,” a clever song that is also the title track of the Flint Cavaliers 2013 album for Low Rush/Grammercy. Here, Johnson joins forces with ...

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New Converted Voices – New Day: Live in Tupelo, MS

The New Converted Voices New Day – Live in Tupelo, MS (2014) www.newconvertedvoices.org By Bob Marovich “You may have come in with your head hung down, but you go ahead and lift it up and smile.” This is how the New Converted Voices opens the title track of their new album, New Day – Live in Tupelo, MS. The quartet is speaking about the uplifting power of Jesus, but the comment can also mean their confidence in the uplifting power of their live performance. The New Converted Voices are a contemporary quartet from Tupelo that blends old-school religious wisdom, traditional ...

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Various Artists – The Best of Revelation Records: 1959-1962

Various Artists The Best of Revelation Records: 1959-1962 Narro Way Records (released September 16, 2014) www.cityhallrecords.com www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Mention the name Bobby Robinson to popular music historians, and you will hear how he founded a number of New York-based record labels, including Whirling Disc, Fury, Enjoy, and Red Robin, and released classic hits for Wilbert Harrison (“Kansas City”) and Gladys Knight and the Pips (“Every Beat of My Heart”). He even allegedly advised a young vocal harmony group called the 5 Satins on how to approach a record company with a song they had called “In the Still ...

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Debra Black – God In Every Season

Debra Black God In Every Season Debra Black Music (released August 2014) www.debrablackmusic.com By Bob Marovich On God In Every Season, Atlanta-based singer-songwriter Debra Black offers up worship songs in a voice that is very easy on the ears and arrangements that are laden with pleasant pop melodies. Black’s voice blends Sarah McLachlan sweetness with the no-nonsense country of Faith Hill, and her lyrics are uniformly positive and warm, the product of a gentle, introspective soul. Praise to a God who is a constant companion sums up the acoustic “I Will Exalt,” and complete surrender to Jesus is the subject ...

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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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