Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: May 29, 2018

“Prayer Changes Things” Adriann Lewis-Freeman D.A.F. Entertainment Group (release date: May 12, 2017) By Bob Marovich The former lead singer of the female gospel group RiZen takes us to church with her solo debut, “Prayer Changes Things.” Produced by her brother, Ay’Ron Lewis, and supported by effervescent background singers and musicians, the song finds Adriann Lewis-Freeman getting downright evangelistic as she advises listeners to “turn it over to the Lord” because “He will work it out and come through for you.” Lewis-Freeman sings from experience, having dealt with a cervical cancer diagnosis, the challenges of single motherhood, and having a ...

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Various Artists – Worth of Souls

Various Artists Worth of Souls Stone Angel Music (release date: April 27, 2018) www.worthofsoulsproject.com By Bob Marovich On “Come as you Are,” the opening selection of the Worth of Souls project, former American Idol contestant Kenz Hall quotes Thomas Moore: “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” To paraphrase Moore, Worth of Souls also believes that there is no sorrow that heavenly music cannot heal. The restful, relaxed quality of this collection of Christian songs is not by accident. It was produced on the premise that we are what we hear—and that those who struggle with depression can benefit from listening to uplifting music with ...

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Endurance (feat. the late Joe Ligon)

Endurance (feat. The Late Joe Ligon) Changed SCCME Records (release date: September 29, 2017) http://musicbyendurance.com/ By Bob Marovich The Stellar Award-nominated gospel quartet Endurance of Houston, Texas, had the mixed blessing of being responsible for Joe Ligon’s last known recording. It was a mixed blessing because they got to work with the iconic lead singer of the Mighty Clouds of Joy, but I’m sure that if they had their druthers, they wouldn’t have wanted it to be his last trip to the studio. Nevertheless, on the title track, Ligon’s hard shouting style fits perfectly with Michael Robertson’s own. Like two deacons in spirited conversation, Ligon ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 21, 2018

“Keys to the Kingdom” Min. David Whitfield & Whitfield Productions, feat. Lena Starks Choirboi Records (release date: March 16, 2018) By Bob Marovich On this church rouser, Angelique “Lena” Starks, a sparkplug of a lead vocalist, breaks it down: you don’t have to be rich, or a doctor or lawyer, or even a warrior, to make it to Heaven. Just “be holy, be righteous,” she sings. Known to enjoy singing to a quick tempo, Starks gets downright evangelistic on the vamp as the choir supports her with lyric responses and handclaps. Min. David Whitfield & Whitfield Productions carries on the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 14, 2018

“I’m Determined” Bemeche’ BGMN Records (release date: April 9, 2018) www.bemeche.com By Bob Marovich This Virginia-based artist teams up with a top-shelf choir and musicians who together sound as if they came straight outta Chicago’s Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer on “I’m Determined.” A churchy up-tempo workout with jaunty piano work complements Bemeche’s conviction to run on to see what the end will be. He engages the choir in antiphonal singing and sets up a special section where sopranos, altos, and tenors layer their harmonies onto the main melody one at a time. Then the musicians drop out for a straight-up vamp. ...

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Jason Nelson – The Answer

Jason Nelson The Answer RCA Inspiration (release date: May 18, 2018) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich What makes Jason Nelson’s The Answer the finest of his five solo albums to date is the quality of the songs. Several of the melodic and biblically-based worship ballads on this live project are not only infectious, but they have a timeless quality. Outstanding songs on The Answer include the current single, “Forever,” as well as the quiescent “In the Room,” which demonstrates that an artist can get a message across—in this instance, that everything one needs can be sought through prayer—without thunder and fury. “Help Me,” which features ...

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Pastor Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny: Stand By Me “Live”

Pastor Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny Stand By Me “Live” 4 Winds Records / Malaco Music Group (release date: March 2, 2018) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Listening to Pastor Terrell Rogers’ rough-hewn lead vocals meet the smooth harmonies of Men of Destiny is like eating salted caramel: they are delicious together. The 4 Winds release, Stand By Me “Live,” captures the young quartet singing at the Prince of Peace Church in their hometown of Blytheville, Arkansas (the Rogers Family founded the church in 1965). There’s plenty of antiphonal singing between Rogers and the quartet. Rogers, who cut his professional ...

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“Can’t Wait to See Mama” – Prez Blackmon

“Can’t Wait to See Mama” Prez Blackmon Pearl’s Son Music (originally released in 2017) By Bob Marovich Stellar Award-nominee Prez Blackmon may be the biggest fan of holidays. His prior single releases include songs about Christmas, his birthday, and Mother’s Day. The latter, a 2010 JDI Records selection called “Happy Mother’s Day,” finds Blackmon sharing vocals with songstress Renee Spearman. Blackmon’s new release, “Can’t Wait to See Mama,” is another Mother’s Day ballad, this time an a cappella ode to his mother and all she did for him. To a familiar hymn melody, Blackmon improvises as a backing choir of voices supports ...

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Kelontae Gavin – The Higher Experience

Kelontae Gavin The Higher Experience Tyscot Records / Marquis Boone Enterprises (release date: April 27, 2018) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Now in its fifth decade, Tyscot Records has been repaving its road to success by introducing young artists and groups that mix praise and rhythm, often in an attempt to replicate the live worship experience on compact disc. Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy, Ruth LaOntra, Casey J, and Bri Babineaux are just a few examples. The latter two have come to Tyscot through its relationship with starmaker Marquis Boone. Boone, referred to by many as the “Berry Gordy of Gospel,” finds, grooms, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 8, 2018

“Blessing Me” Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir From the City of Peace CD Sure. Focused. Centered (2017) By Bob Marovich Despite the jaunty piano intro and thunderous singing of the NextGeneration Choir, “Blessing Me” belongs to its fiery lead vocalist, Meaghan Williams-McNeal. Her feisty shouts and squalls lead the group on this churchy offering of thanksgiving for blessings bestowed. It is one of those songs that seems to anticipate a praise break.  Not surprisingly, Williams-McNeal is pursuing a solo career. Dr. F. James Clark and the NextGeneration Choir hail from the Shalom Church (City of Peace) of Florissant, Missouri. Their debut album, 2015’s Simply Amazing, ...

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