Reviews

“Give Him Glory” – Dr. LaTonya Earl

“Give Him Glory” Dr. LaTonya Earl Latonyaearl1@gmail.com By Bob Marovich Houstonian Dr. LaTonya Earl’s sassy single “When I Stopped Playing with Jesus” is distinctive in melody and lyric, but it’s her work on the worship ballad “Give Him Glory” that best sells her skills to the gospel music public. This simple song, with its singularly singable melody, finds Earl at her unbridled best. Like a seasoned gospel soloist, she raises the song’s temperature from cool and even to a breathless apex without coming close to going off the melismatic cliff. The independent artist Dr. LaTonya Earl has earned honors at ...

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“Way Maker” – Tonya Ware

“Way Maker” Tonya Ware From the EP Signature of God, Volume One The Success House (release date: July 19, 2019) www.tonyaware.com By Bob Marovich Back in 2006, Tonya Ware recorded her debut album, The Voice. Among its many fine cuts, the album featured a marvelous single written by Marvin Winans called “Put My Hand in Yours.” It earned Ware a Stellar Award nomination. But it was the likable “Rain” that caught my attention. Ware’s vast but not excessively flashy voice was perfect for this pop-flavored prayer for an overflow of blessings. With a successful album and an executive position with ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 20, 2019

“In My Name” Ruth La’Ontra ALJR Music Group/Tyscot Records, LLC Available on all digital outlets By Bob Marovich Ruth La’Ontra, the Stellar Award-nominated artist from Aberdeen, North Carolina, is going after radio play with her new single, “In My Name.” From her 2017 album I Got You, Ruth’s marvelous cover of the Thompson Community Singers’ 1992 hit evokes Kim McFarland’s original solo nearly note for note as the background vocalists update the song without taking away one ounce of the original flavor. It’s refreshing to hear a classic redone with as much fidelity as forward-looking fashion. Music and ministry run ...

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Camille Nelson – Sacred Lullabies

Camille Nelson Sacred Lullabies Heart Dance Records (release date: August 23, 2019) www.camillenelson.com By Bob Marovich Religious music comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be thunderous or austere, passionate or quiescent, joyful or somber. Regardless, for sacred music to be effective, it must, as Father of Gospel Music Thomas A. Dorsey once said, “prick the heart.” Sacred Lullabies, Utah musician Camille Nelson’s new collection of acoustic music, pricks the heart by drawing on folk, CCM, country, and Celtic influences. The album is as comforting as a loving embrace. In keeping with the title’s premise, many tracks are soothing ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 13, 2019

“Don’t Judge Me” Kierra Sheard feat. Missy Elliott Karew Entertainment / RCA Inspiration (release date: August 9, 2019) By Bob Marovich The latest gospel-R&B mashup, “Don’t Judge Me,” teams Grammy-nominated and Stellar Award-winning Kierra Sheard of Detroit’s legendary Clark-Moss dynasty with Missy Elliott, iconic hip hop artist and soon-to-be MTV Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Awardee. In a tone of humility laced with media fatigue, Sheard sings “I just ran through the fire; please don’t judge me.” Though directly in response to those who put Sheard’s every move under a microscope, the song also serves as a rejoinder to haters everywhere ...

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Zak Williams & 1/Akord – The Next Chapter

Zak Williams & 1/Akord The Next Chapter Enon Music Group (release date: July 12, 2019) By Bob Marovich While the name Zak Williams & 1/Akord sounds like it might be a male-led gospel group, the group is actually a small choir. And on the group’s latest offering, The Next Chapter, the ensemble sings with the full-throated and thunderous sonority of a choir twice its size. The album, presented by Dr. Alyn E. Waller, Pastor of Philadelphia’s Enon Tabernacle Church and produced by Zak Williams, features songs written by a variety of songwriters, including Williams himself. “Unpredictable God” is the radio-friendly ...

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Reverend Lawrence Thomison – Going to Church

Reverend Lawrence Thomison Going to Church Dherico Music (release date: May 26, 2019) www.revlawrencethomison.com By Bob Marovich Going to Church, the latest release by the Reverend Lawrence Thomison, lives up to its billing. Produced by Derrick Lee for Dherico Music, Going to Church is an album of songs rendered in an older style by the full-throated Cedric Sesley & Out 4 Souls choir and soloist Thomison, who demonstrates that he can shout and squall like a quartet singer-turned-Baptist preacher. Despite the album’s old-school modality, the rhythm section, and especially Kenny Jackson’s thumping bass, keeps the musical body firmly fixed in ...

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VaShawn Mitchell – Elements

VaShawn Mitchell Elements Fair Trade / Columbia (release date: August 9, 2019) www.vashawnmitchell.com By Bob Marovich More than other styles of sacred music, Praise and Worship tends to focus on the elements. For example, the music creates an “atmosphere” for worship, while song lyrics use wind, water, and fire as metaphors for the presence, or anticipated presence, of the Holy Ghost and the “showering” of blessings. Nowhere is this more evident than on worship leader VaShawn Mitchell’s new album, Elements. The title of his first album in three years telegraphs the use of the earth’s substances to describe the descent ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 5, 2019

“I’ll Be Alright” Larry Hill feat. Ervin “Bigman” Williams RonKay Music Group (release date: May 1, 2019) www.ronkaymusic.com By Bob Marovich Though “I’ll Be Alright” is ostensibly a solo outing for Philadelphia gospel singer Larry Hill, it thrums with the sound of good old fashioned southern soul quartet. One reason is the presence of quartet guitar wizard Ervin “Bigman” Williams, who offers up a quick, whimsical lick for an intro and proceeds to weave guitar riffs in and out of the singing and chugging rhythm section. Then there’s the background harmonies and the shouting vamp that goes on for a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 29, 2019

“While I Wait” Shara J Anjelica Records (release date: February 26, 2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/sharaj By Bob Marovich While the hypnotically flowing beat of “While I Wait” provides an inkling of the single’s Bahamian roots, it’s delivered with such American Pentecostal passion by Shara J that most would never know of its island origins. A worship leader in her native Bahamas, Shara J gives “While I Wait” the heart-pouring reading that the plaintive ballad requires. “You said I could come boldly before your throne of grace,” she sings, “but my heart is broken and I don’t have the strength.” It’s easy to ...

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