CDs

Jenise La Vonne – The Call

Jenise La Vonne The Call Unusually Anointed Music Group (release date: June 5, 2015) www.lovejeniselavonne.com By Bob Marovich Apostle Lymus Johnson, a fiery preacher winding up to full whoop mode, opens New York singer Jenise La Vonne’s EP The Call.  To an overlain modern beat, Apostle Johnson poses the question that serves as the project’s theme: God is calling you to repent – will you answer Him or not? On the surface, a heaven-or-hell question may appear far too weighty to hover over the project of an emerging young talent, whose sweetness and runway model comportment would suggest a more blissful view of ...

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Karen Clark Sheard – Destined to Win

Karen Clark Sheard Destined to Win Karew Records (2015) www.karewrecords.com By Bob Marovich “Can I take some time to talk to you? / To share a message to encourage you?” Karen Clark Sheard asks in “The Who Doesn’t Matter,” the opening of her new CD, Destined to Win, and a selection featuring fellow songstress Faith Evans. Sheard’s simple request sets the thematic tone for a live album that is chock-a-block with airs of encouragement and reassurance that no matter what happens in life, God will be there to make things right. Just believe and don’t give up. Bolstered by the deft ...

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Jason Alvarez – Time for Miracles

Jason Alvarez Time for Miracles (release date: March 23, 2015) www.jamm.org By Bob Marovich Ever wonder what happened to the bearded guy who sang alongside Sylvia Robinson on the 1975 proto-disco hit “Shame Shame Shame?” The guy who “got my sun roof down, got my diamond in the back” and implored you in a high-pitched shout to “put on your shaky wig, baby?” Jason Alvarez became a music star, but with that came an unfortunate addiction to drugs. With the help of his wife, Gale, Alvarez got clean, got saved, signed a record deal with Light Records, but then forsook ...

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AsOne – s/t

AsOne AsOne 360 MusicWorx/Capitol Christian Distribution/Universal Music Group (release date: June 23, 2015) www.AsOneOfficial.com By Bob Marovich Interracial gospel/sacred singing groups go back more than a century—from the days of Polk Miller & the Old South Quartette at the turn of the twentieth century to Homer Rodeheaver’s singing with the African American Wiseman Sextette; and from Gene Viale (of Puerto Rican heritage) in the Cleveland Singers, Elizabeth Meagher in the Exodus Singers, and the multicultural Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. The color of the skin counts less than the color of the voice, and there are rich hues in the voices and ...

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Mike Lee – All I Need (EP)

Mike Lee All I Need Mike Lee Music (release date: June 16, 2015) www.mikeleemusic.com By Bob Marovich Fort Wayne, Indiana. worship leader and mixed martial arts gym owner Mike Lee follows up his full-length national debut LP Awakening Hearts with a seven-track acoustic EP called All I Need. With a final push, courtesy of crowdfunding, the EP was released to the public on June 16. Despite juggling several challenges, notably a father in chemotherapy for lung cancer and a brand new baby, Lee makes the world sound bright and breezy on the EP with his simple melodies, introspective lyrics, and ...

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E. L. Williams – Where Sin Met the Blood

E. L. Williams Where Sin Met the Blood Tate Music Group (2015) www.tatemusicgroup.com By Bob Marovich There was a time when bass singers were compulsory for any self-respecting quartet, but today they are as rare as hen’s teeth, save for classical music and opera, where the basso profundo remains the voice of maturity and wisdom, and retro doo-wop groups. Gospel quartet was once notably gifted with such legendary bottom-supporters as George McCurn (Pilgrim Travelers), Jimmy Jones (Harmonizing Four), Dickie Freeman (Fairfield Four, Skylarks), and Thomas Spann (Brooklyn All Stars), the latter being among the last of his breed still on ...

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Sada K – Long Story Short

Sada K Long Story Short (released January 2015) www.sadakmusic.com By Bob Marovich “Everyone has a story,” Sada K says in the opening moments of her solo CD, Long Story Short. Her story, she admits, was stained with tears, but it’s “time to shine the light.” And for forty minutes, that’s what Sada (like Jayda with an S) does. The album is a fourteen-track testimony that chronicles the singer’s ups and downs, and her ultimate victory. The testimony is real. The Kansas City-raised Sada, lead singer for Christian pop band Press Play, had her singing career nearly derailed when she developed ...

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Jimmy Needham – Vice & Virtue

Jimmy Needham Vice & Virtue Platinum Pop Records (released May 4, 2015) www.jimmyneedham.com By Bob Marovich Christian artist Jimmy Needham gives us plenty to ponder on Vice & Virtue, his seventh album and first for his own imprint, Platinum Pop Records. Needham’s music is youthful and rhythmic, a playful potpourri of melodic pop and R&B that will put listeners in mind of fellow blue eyed soul children Bryan Popin, Sam Smith, Mayer Hawthorne, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, and Justin Timberlake. “Thank You,” a breathless ode of gratitude, has vestiges of the muscle twitching 1980s Minneapolis Sound pioneered by Prince. Another devotional, ...

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Fannie Lou Hamer – Songs My Mother Taught Me

Fannie Lou Hamer Songs My Mother Taught Me Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (release date: June 30, 2015) www.folkways.si.edu By Bob Marovich While it took a recent act of domestic terror for the polarizing Confederate flag to begin coming down throughout the South, let us not forget that much of the way was paved more than a half-century ago by such freedom fighters as Fannie Lou Hamer. Hamer, who died in 1977 at age 59, is renowned for her leadership in the Civil Rights movement and specifically for her work with the Mississippi Freedom Party. Equally well known, albeit a sidebar to ...

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The Gospel Angels – I Still Remember

The Gospel Angels I Still Remember Next Level Publishing (2004) www.thegospelangelsdc.com By Bob Marovich I Still Remember has been around for more than a decade—it was released the year the Journal of Gospel Music was born, in fact—but this album by the Gospel Angels of Washington, DC, is worth revisiting because it is emblematic of how much musical fun saving souls can be. First, of the eleven tracks, five are up-tempo selections, more hip-slapping than just about any gospel quartet CD I’ve heard in a long while. One might conclude that the high percentage of “drive tempo” songs is because ...

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