Reviews

The Volunteer State Mass Choir – The Gospel of Tennessee

Jeff Wilford Presents The Volunteer State Mass Choir The Gospel of Tennessee www.VolunteerStateMass.com By Bob Marovich Ten years after their establishment by gospel music industry and retail professional Jeff Wilford, the Volunteer State Mass Choir makes its debut on CD with The Gospel of Tennessee. Waiting to gel in tone and texture before releasing a full-length recording has paid off for the Volunteer State Mass Choir. The Gospel of Tennessee showcases a group that has its swagger together, whether on P&W pieces such as “Fresh Oil” or on aisle stompers such as “I Forgot Just Who I Am,” featuring feisty ...

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Ysabella – Help Me Out

Ysabella Help Me Out Sharper Brothers (2016) Available on Amazon By Bob Marovich Ysabella, formerly known as the Jenkins Sisters, is a contemporary gospel sister trio. Jentry, Aja, and Armani Jenkins have been singing for some time: in 2008, the group won the Word Network’s Gospel F.O.C.U.S. competition. Help Me Out is their latest recorded offering. There’s no doubt that the ladies can sing. Their crisp and youthful harmonies, no doubt honed over years of sisterly closeness, evoke a Destiny’s Child vibe, and the title track features a churchy lead vocal over the bluesy vamp. Take away the extroverted electronica ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 11, 2016

“Old Ship of Zion” The Gospel Sensations From the MCI Music Group album Everybody www.gospelsensations.com This may be the first time a gospel group has landed two Picks of the Week with their first two submissions to the Journal of Gospel Music. And for good reason. “Old Ship of Zion” is another a cappella gem from the Gospel Sensations, who evoke the Mighty Wonders of Aquasco, Maryland’s splendid 1970s version but add chiming harmonies to this chestnut. Organized by Robert C. Marion Jr. as a way to pay tribute to the artists of yesteryear and today, the Gospel Sensations of ...

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Renaissance Movement Music – Lions in Suits

Renaissance Movement Music Lions in Suits (release date: February 26, 2016) Available digitally By Bob Marovich On the fifteen-selection Lions in Suits, Christian hip hop collective Renaissance Movement Music (RMM) joins forces with a handful of special guests to deliver a parcel of messages.  The messages are mostly about the life-giving and life-saving power of faith in God, but they also contain pointed commentary on society’s propensity to stereotype, typecast, put people in boxes, and throw shade on anything and anybody different. RMM is comprised of Sinai, Mike Bell, and Legin. The album title appears to refer to the group’s ...

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Christon Gray – The Glory Album

Christon Gray The Glory Album Fo Yo Soul Recordings / RCA (release date: March 11, 2016) By Bob Marovich Christian hip hop artist Christon Gray announces that he’s “spittin’ the real, not the auto tune” on The Glory Album, the major label follow-up to his solo independent release and Billboard-charting School of Roses.  He’s right, and he has a lot of real to spit. As Gray shared with JGM, The Glory Album takes up where Roses left off. The sequel finds Gray trying to make sense of the often incomprehensible strands of life with which everybody grapples, such as family, love, relationships, spirituality, the responsibility ...

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Rev. Roy Reed & the Zion Jubilees – Jesus Is All I Need (Live)

Rev. Roy Reed & the Zion Jubilees Jesus Is All I Need Sharp Records (2016) www.sharprecordsusa.com By Bob Marovich The Zion Jubilees remain the flagship artist for Sharp Records. The quartet’s new CD, Jesus Is All I Need, recorded live in the group’s hometown of Bryan, Texas, proves there is still power in the traditional gospel quartet sound. Since its founding as the Reed Brothers in the late 1950s, the Zion Jubilees has dished out wooden church wisdom steeped in sweet harmonies and hard gospel lead singing. Making records for Stan Lewis’s Shreveport-based Jewel Records in the 1970s, the group ...

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Robert Horton with The Voices of Many Waters: “People All Over the World Need Jesus”

“People All Over the World Need Jesus” Robert Horton with The Voices of Many Waters Gold Leaf Records https://www.reverbnation.com/roberthorton5 This lo-fi funky gospel single was written in 1979 and recorded in 1982 but not released until last year. At first blush, “People All Over the World Need Jesus” sounds like it came from 1970s recording sensations the Beautiful Zion Missionary Baptist Church Choir, but it is actually the product of an Albemarle, North Carolina-based family group, The Voices of Many Waters, with lead singing by tenor Robert Joe Horton. It is a simple song: the chorus consists of the title ...

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Carl B. Phillips & Friends – Great Rain

Carl B. Phillips & Friends Great Rain Prove Me Productions (release date: January 29, 2016) https://www.reverbnation.com/carlbphillips By Bob Marovich The photo on the back of the CD booklet for Carl B. Phillips & Friends’ Great Rain shows an Ivy League-attired Phillips standing next to a clock, a briefcase and umbrella in his hands. If, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, this photo is saying that Phillips is prepared, but waiting patiently, for his bountiful shower of blessings. Waiting with expectation for a movement from God in one’s life is a current that runs throughout this live project ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 28, 2016

“Living for Jesus” Sophiya Rocktown Records (2015) http://praiseworldradio.com/sophiya-living-for-jesus What makes “Living for Jesus” special is the robust elegance with which singer, songwriter, worship leader, and TV personality Sophia Ariba (aka Sophiya) delivers the lush, melodic worship ballad. Given the multicultural popularity of P&W today, the Nigerian singer’s style can fit in anywhere in the world. In addition to singing, Sophiya hosts “Dedication” on Loveworld Plus TV. The program gives viewers the opportunity to send special requests while enjoying contemporary gospel.

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WDF – What the World Needs Now

WDF What the World Needs Now Studio Cloud 30 (release date: November 10, 2015) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich I rarely award an EP or mini-album five stars because that puts extraordinary pressure on the full-length CD that inevitably follows to be as good, if not better, than the more diminutive project.  It’s akin to giving a new artist a lifetime achievement award.  Where do you go from there? But in the case of WDF’s What the World Needs Now, however, I am making an exception. Canadian gospel artist Warren Dean Flandez, known as WDF, has created a mini album that deservedly ...

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