CDs

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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Dave Bass & the DBGs – All Over the Place

Dave Bass & the DBGs All Over the Place DNB Associates (release date: June 15, 2018) www.davebassgospel.com By Bob Marovich Although Dave Bass led a vocal quartet on 1997’s The Welcome Table, on his 2018 release, All Over the Place, he fronts the DBGs (Dave Bass Group), a musical quartet with the sonic signature of a pub blues-rock band. Bass delivers six straightforward selections on his latest project. The theme of the first three tracks is the importance of holding onto faith as the only way to overcome the difficulties of life (Hebrews 11:1). For example, the title track depicts the ...

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Robert E. Person – Classic Covers (EP)

Robert E. Person Classic Covers (EP) REP Music (release date: June 1, 2018) www.roberteperson.com By Bob Marovich Washington DC singer Robert E. Person has peppered his previous projects with songs representing a variety of genres. His latest release, Classic Covers, is more of a jazz than a sacred EP, though it includes his very fine recent single, a collaboration with Richard Smallwood on the latter’s 1989 “I Give You Praise.” Among the classic covers Person offers are the Stylistics’ social commentary piece “People Make the World Go Round,” and “My Favorite Things,” from The Sound of Music. Both benefit from deft ...

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Dr. Alyn E. Waller Presents Fresh Anointing – Totally

Dr. Alyn E. Waller Presents Fresh Anointing Totally Enon Music Group (release date: May 11, 2018) By Bob Marovich What is most interesting about Totally, an album by Enon Tabernacle’s young adult choir Fresh Anointing, is how many older hymns the group includes in the mix. For example, the choir gives “Blessed Assurance” a staccato reading with surges of high-voltage harmonies (though the composer credits should more properly read as by Fanny Crosby and Phoebe Knapp, with the arrangement by Sean Tillery). Fresh Anointing’s 2017 single “Holy Holy” is the liturgical classic given a big and austere treatment fitting for a ...

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