CDs

Jonathan McReynolds – Life Music: Stage Two

Jonathan McReynolds Life Music: Stage Two eOne/Tehillah Music Group (release date: September 18, 2015) www.jonathanmcreynolds.com By Bob Marovich Life Music: Stage Two couldn’t be a better showcase for Jonathan McReynolds. The follow-up album to the 26-year-old singer-songwriter-musician’s 2012 debut, Life Music, Stage Two is the musical manifestation of his honest and spiritually grounded approach to dealing with the vicissitudes of daily life. The Chicago-born McReynolds is one of the few gospel solo artists who plays acoustic guitar. His mellow blend of acoustic neo-soul with churchy conviction may be somewhat novel today, but it mirrors the intimacy of his lyrics, which feel like ...

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“Here I Am” – Zaviel Janae

Zaviel Janae Here I Am (2015) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich Zaviel Janae Slack (Zaviel Janae) of Atlanta opens her live album, Here I Am, with a blunt and tearful testimony. Her story of how a pregnancy out of wedlock went from bad to worse but ended positively is the kind of mea culpa that leads one to devote her life to God and sacred music. That’s what she’s done. Praise leader, member of neo-soul group Lyrikal, and frequent vocalist with Darwin Hobbs, Zaviel Janae has an expressive, church-filling voice that, like Casey J, Tasha Cobbs, or Kierra Sheard, ...

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Gerald “Da Gospel Truth” Jones Presents The Independent Spirit, Vol. 1

Various Artists Gerald “Da Gospel Truth” Jones Presents The Independent Spirit, Volume 1 (release date: September 4, 2015) www.ispiritmusic.com By Bob Marovich Industry insiders will tell you that some of the best gospel music is not being heard on mainstream gospel radio. It’s being produced by independent, or indie, artists. That should not surprise anyone. It is the case with most music genres. It has been that way for decades. Artists typically do their finest work during their “hungry” or “salad” days. And every artist was once an independent. James Cleveland. Kirk Franklin. Mahalia Jackson. The Caravans. The father of ...

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Kim Burrell – A Different Place

Kim Burrell A Different Place Shanachie / New Brand Records LLC (release date: September 4, 2015) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Ask any female R&B, pop, and gospel singer below retirement age about her music influences.  One in three will include Kim Burrell in her litany of vocal idols. Indeed, the church-raised singer who never took formal voice lessons was a favorite of the late Whitney Houston, who called Burrell’s voice one of the greatest. Burrell’s vocalizing exists at the six-corner crossroads of gospel, R&B, and jazz, and it’s this amalgam that she displays on her latest album, A Different Place, released today ...

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The Jones Family Singers – Live from Mt. Zion

The Jones Family Singers Live from Mt. Zion Arts + Labor (2015) www.thejonesfamilysingers.com By Bob Marovich At one point in Live from Mt. Zion, Alexis Jones, the force of nature who is the Jones Family Singers’ primary lead vocalist, says the group gets asked why they don’t sing rock and roll. Oh but we do, she explains. “I can rock in Jesus and I can rooolllll in the Holy Ghost!” Spiritual rocking, rolling, swaying, and dancing are compulsory accompaniments to the Jones Family Singers’ devotional repertory—from the group, the live audience, and the at-home listener. And for good reason. Live ...

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Akita Steen Smith – A Long Time Coming (EP)

Akita Steen Smith A Long Time Coming Akita Steen Smith (2014) http://altmgtmktc.com/akita-steen/ By Bob Marovich “It’s been a long time coming,” Akita Steen Smith sings on the title track of her five-cut EP. No doubt it has been a journey, but A Long Time Coming suggests that the Detroit singer is not yet at the finish line. This independently-produced project by indie vocalist Smith is contemporary gospel steeped in smooth jazz arrangements and musicianship. Less is more, as the saying goes, and it would have been good advice for this project. In more instances than fewer, too much is going on musically, especially ...

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Juzang – Back 2 Life (EP)

Juzang Back 2 Life (EP) www.juzangmusic.com By Bob Marovich You may be asking yourself: what’s a Juzang? It’s a trio of singing sisters—Guielle, Patria, and Marisa Juzang—from Huntsville, Alabama. The lovely young ladies released their EDM-fueled inspirational single, “Back 2 Life,” this past spring. They return with a five-track EP of the same name that gives listeners a chance to hear more of their sweet harmonies. The title track, with its explosive punctuation of electronica, is still the group’s strongest offering. Nevertheless, the EP demonstrates that the trio does not need to hide behind musical pyrotechnics, however effective they may be, ...

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Pastor Waverly B. Bumbrey Sr. Presents “Seasons” Live

Pastor Waverly B. Bumbrey Sr. Presents Refuge Temple Cathedral Voices “Seasons” Live www.refugetempledetroit.org By Bob Marovich One might surmise from its title (and the image of a red bow on the cover) that “Seasons” Live is a Christmas CD. Indeed, the strains of “O Come All Ye Faithful” seep through on a selection called “Bumbrey’s Worship,” but otherwise this project by a Detroit church choir is an all-seasons release. Featuring the choir and leadership of Refuge Temple Cathedral of His Glory, notably Supt. Waverly B. Bumbrey Sr., First Lady Patricia Bumbrey, and the Refuge Temple Cathedral Voices, “Seasons” Live is ...

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Dr. F. James Clark and the Shalom Church (City of Peace) Mass Choir – Simply Amazing

Dr. F. James Clark & the Shalom Church (City of Peace) Mass Choir Simply Amazing (Release Date: June 16, 2015) www.shalomccop.org By Bob Marovich This debut project from Dr. F. James Clark’s Shalom Church (City of Peace) Mass Choir of Florissant, Missouri, captured my interest the second I saw that the Reverend Quincy Fielding Jr. was recording consultant, composer, and vocalist; and composer-conductor Dello Thedford is the church’s minister of music. Given such estimable talent at the helm, it is no surprise that Simply Amazing features a well-trained, well-rehearsed choir capable of rendering a passing parade of contemporary sacred music ...

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Tasha Cobbs – One Place Live

Tasha Cobbs One Place Live Motown Gospel (release date: August 21, 2015) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Recorded before nearly 3,000 worshippers at Redemption Church in Greenville, South Carolina, singer-songwriter Tasha Cobbs’ One Place Live is a solid follow-up to her number one CD, Grace. It actually surpasses the multi-award-winning debut album, as the worship songstress sounds more vocally confident than ever before. On One Place Live, produced by label-mate VaShawn Mitchell, Cobbs doesn’t as much lead as direct or orchestrate the flow of praise and worship. Song transitions are effortless and create a worship experience that is nigh perfect in its ...

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