Reviews

Christopher Williams – Stepping Out

Christopher Williams Stepping Out (private release, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/christopherwilliams24 By Bob Marovich Stepping Out by Christopher Williams, a Jacksonville, Florida, singer, songwriter, worship leader, and Rhythm of Gospel Award nominee, showcases a contemporary gospel stylist with more than a dash of smooth jazz in his veins. Most of the album’s ten songs contain pop melodies that ride along on a smooth jazz accompaniment. Not to be confused with the R&B singer of the same name, Williams is a religious vocalist with a bright, optimistic tenor not unlike other young gospel industry stars such as Jonathan McReynolds, Maurice Griffin, and Todd Dulaney. Williams interjects exquisite falsetto notes whenever he wishes ...

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Northern Delaware Chapter GMWA Recording Choir: God Be Glorified

Northern Delaware Chapter GMWA Recording Choir God Be Glorified (self-produced; release date: May 14, 2016) www.ndcgmwa.com By Bob Marovich Gospel choirs trained under the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) umbrella possess a certain style that non-GMWA choirs do not necessarily have. It’s spit-polish combined with passion, thunderous voices that can sing at a whisper, lively leads, and contemporary arrangements anchored in tradition. If GMWA was handing out seals of approval to choirs that met these standards, the Northern Delaware Chapter’s Recording Choir would get one. On the choir’s debut effort, God Be Glorified, it demonstrates a consistent command of hymns, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 19, 2016

“I Give You Praise, Lord” Chicago Mass Choir From the New Haven Records CD I Give You Praise (2016) www.chicagomasschoir.com On their latest single, “I Give You Praise, Lord,” the celebrated Chicago Mass Choir delivers P&W with P&D (power and drama). The song begins with the sopranos singing delicately, like a praise team, and opens like a flower when the key changes.  From there, the song builds to a sonorous strength. All the while, longtime Chicago Mass songwriter and producer Percy Gray lifts each line for the choir’s response and assent.  The semi-a cappella segment at the end rounds up any ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 12, 2016

“God’s Got My Back” TaMyya J MM Music Group (release date: September 2016) www.tamyyaj.com Set to an urban AC arrangement, “God’s Got My Back,” the thought-provoking single from radio host and gospel singer TaMyya J of New Jersey, is about flipping one’s thinking from negative to positive. It’s a call to develop the confidence to ignore that needling inner voice that tries to diminish you. TaMyya once thought “I’m not strong enough, wise enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough.”  Now, with God in her life, she sings “I’m fine just by being me.” “God’s Got My Back” falls lyrically ...

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Puchi Colon – Forever I Will Worship (EP)

Puchi Colon Forever I Will Worship EP Jovi Music (2016) www.puchicolon.com By Bob Marovich To my ears, Puchi (pronounced POO-chee) Colon is the reigning king of Latin Praise & Worship music. He established this position in the P&W field 20 years ago with his Spanish-language Christian albums and Salsa Worship CDs, which followed the intent of Psalm 150 by featuring congas, timbale, bongos, maracas, and a hot brass section. Released this year, Colon’s Forever I Will Worship EP continues the Puerto Rican descendant’s spicy blend of simple vertical praise songs overlaid with polyrhythm and bright instrumentation. “You Are” and “I ...

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Lift Me Up: Chicago Gospel Keyboard Masters

Various Artists Lift Me Up: Chicago Gospel Keyboard Masters The Sirens (release date: July 11, 2016) www.thesirensrecords.com By Bob Marovich Those who think traditional gospel music is dead, hapless victim of today’s P&W and urban AC influences in sacred music, The Sirens’ new release, Lift Me Up: Chicago Gospel Keyboard Masters, is proof that the music of Thomas Dorsey and Roberta Martin is as alive and bracing as ever. On August 20, 2015, The Sirens Records owner Steven B. Dolins brought together a battery of the city’s leading keyboard artists and singers: Pastor Bryant Jones, Richard Gibbs, Elsa Harris, Lavelle Lacy, ...

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Joel Houston and Director Michael John Warren Discuss Hillsong Film “Let Hope Rise”

By Bob Marovich Hillsong – Let Hope Rise, the music documentary about the history and phenomenon that is Sydney, Australia’s Hillsong, “the biggest band you’ve never heard of,” hits U.S. theaters September 16. JGM spoke by telephone recently with Joel Houston of Hillsong UNITED and the film’s director, Michael John Warren, whose prior projects include documentaries on Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj and the large-scale event film Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway. JGM: How did the idea of the film come about? MJW: To be candid, the idea came from some producers who brought it to me. I’ve made a lot ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 5, 2016

“Faith Can” Debbie Cochran From the album Faith Can (single released September 2, 2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/debbiecochran5 There’s nothing like country music to evoke the angst of heartbreak. When combined with spirituality and faith, country music can turn heartbreak into inspiration. That’s what you get with “Faith Can,” a country ballad composed and sung by country singer-songwriter Debbie Cochran to celebrate the courage of fourteen-year-old competitive gymnast Kate Foster. Foster’s acute myeloid leukemia indirectly caused her to lose half of her left leg but none of her passion or conviction for life. Now wearing a prosthetic leg, Foster is back in training. Her ...

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Crowns of Joy – Back to the Basics

Crowns of Joy Back to the Basics (private press – 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/thecrownsofjoy By Bob Marovich The Pheba, Mississippi-based Crowns of Joy’s Back to the Basics album promises “old school—new flavor.” It delivers on its promise, largely through its “Trumpology” medley of drive-tempo hits of the past. The Rhythm of Gospel Award-nominated Crowns of Joy was organized in 1980 by the late Reverend Tom Bill Avant, a veteran quartetter who was organizing singers back in the late 1950s when he presented a neighborhood group called the Five Gospel Wonders. Tommy and Victor Avant, Bud Townsend, and primary lead singer Wayne Wooten ...

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Denise Josiah – Songs For the Heart

Denise Josiah Songs For the Heart JoDah Ministries, LLC (2016) www.jodahministries.org By Bob Marovich Denise Josiah titled her debut album Songs For the Heart, but it could easily have been titled Songs From the Heart. The ten lovingly intimate sacred selections on the CD were penned or arranged over a period of more than twenty years by the singer, her husband Dr. Donnell Josiah, or written together. Born on the beautiful island of Saint Maarten but now residing in Maryland, Denise is a worship singer whose light soprano is thickened with resonant echoes of alto, no doubt the result of ...

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