Reviews

Miami Mass Choir – Live at the Adrienne Arsht Center

Miami Mass Choir Miami Mass Choir Live at the Adrienne Arsht Center MaJo Records (release date: December 9, 2016) Available from online music retail outlets By Bob Marovich Having fun while worshiping is the overall impression one gets listening to Miami Mass Choir Live at the Adrienne Arsht Center, the choir’s latest full-length release in some fifteen years. And I don’t mean frivolous fun, but a bouncy joie de vivre from enjoying the worship experience. In other words, no new age religion, no extended moments of quiet rapture, no overly complex arrangements, no whispering all over the place.  It’s about extroverted ...

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“My Brothers” – Brotha Mike

“My Brothers” Brotha Mike From the EP Second Chance (released December 2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/brothamike1 Gospel music is made for such a time as this. On “My Brothers,” Detroit’s Brotha Mike defends those who haven’t had the same opportunities as others and those who deserve a second chance. “They didn’t make us,” he sings, “so they can’t break us.” As a saxophone wails and the arrangement gets progressively bluesier, Brotha Mike moves from empathy to encouragement: “Keep your head high / You don’t have to look down.” By the end, he is enjoining everyone to come together “to make a better world.” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 30, 2017

“I Got Out” Bryan Popin Little Boy Wonder Music (release date: January 15, 2017) www.bryanpopin.com Dubbed “Little Boy Wonder” by Stevie Wonder, gospel artist Bryan Popin infuses”I Got Out” with a Pentecostal-flavored explosion of gratitude to God for helping him escape his personal trials.  Popin assures that God will help you out of your “going through,” also. The single is reminiscent of the traditional-meets-contemporary blend of “Alright” and “Thank You Jesus” from Popin’s 2013 album, You Can Make It. From an old-school congregational singalong opening to its evangelist-on-fire vamp, “I Got Out” rocks so hard, it burns to a crisp, ...

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Various Artists: WOW GOSPEL 2017

Various Artists WOW GOSPEL 2017 RCA Inspiration (release date: January 27, 2017) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the annual WOW GOSPEL collection was my personal tutor for learning about the gospel scene. Back in those days, I was focused exclusively on vintage gospel music, and particularly the contributions of quartets. I looked forward with great anticipation to the next WOW GOSPEL project so I could take another lesson in modern gospel. I often purchased the two-CD set the day it was released. It was through WOW GOSPEL that I first encountered Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise,” Mary ...

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Beverly Crawford – The Essential Beverly Crawford

Beverly Crawford The Essential Beverly Crawford JDI Records (release date: October 23, 2015) Available at Amazon.com By Bob Marovich The Essential Beverly Crawford is a best-of pulled from her two volume Live from Los Angeles series, released in 2008 and 2010, respectively, with a new song, “Deliverance,” tacked on top. Like Pastor Shirley Caesar, Crawford knows how to work a congregation, interspersing conversational spoken word in the midst of songs or evangelizing before and during her performances. You hear the singer swoop, squall, whoop, scream, and shout with preacher’s breath. She preaches and teaches. She does the holy dance. But she also offers ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 23, 2017

“No Rivals” Alyce Metallo www.AlyceMetallo.com Available at digital outlets Singing “My heart is yours / There are no rivals / You have no rivals, Jesus,” Alyce Metallo makes it clear who holds her heart for real. The pop melody is equal parts solemn and ear candy. It benefits from a soaring production courtesy of Nathan Walter, formerly of the Christian band Plus One. Metallo, a Washington, DC, singer-songwriter, wrote this song after the loss of her father, who disappeared on the snowy streets of DC for ten days and did not survive the cold.  It served as both catharsis and ...

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Monae Miller – #ForeverAlive (EP)

Monae Miller #ForeverAlive (EP) Monae Miller Music www.monaemillermusic.com By Bob Marovich The writer Anton Chekhov admonished his fellow writers: “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” This quote hung in the air while I was reviewing Kansas-born and Texas-based singer-songwriter Monae Miller’s #ForeverAlive EP. The photo on the front and back covers, as well as photos within the CD booklet, show her holding a guitar. So I anticipated that ...

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Kenneth Wilson Chorale – Incorruptible Seed

Kenneth Wilson Chorale Incorruptible Seed Love Records (release date: January 1, 2017) http://kennethwilsonchorale.hearnow.com By Bob Marovich Drawing from 1 Peter 1:23 for its title, Incorruptible Seed is the latest album from Detroit’s Kenneth Wilson Chorale, a group that demonstrates high-level vocal training in its easy, controlled delivery. Wilson’s songs—he wrote all the selections—append messages of hope and encouragement to mid-tempo contemporary gospel choir music. The album’s thematic premise of God’s constancy for His people is condensed in the opening track, “I’ve Got Jesus.” This rhythmic, mid-tempo cut points to the primacy of Jesus as all anyone needs to weather a ...

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Riverside SDA Church: The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion

Riverside SDA Church The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion G.Favored Entertainment Group/DREAM Gospel/ Capitol Christian Distribution www.RiversideNashville.org By Bob Marovich While gospel music is most often associated with Baptist and Pentecostal/Holiness churches, the Black Seventh Day Adventist Church, as just about all African American denominations by this point, has embraced the rhythm of gospel music. Riverside SDA in Nashville is no different. Founded in 1945, the church has grown from 26 members to a congregation that fills a sizable sanctuary on the banks of the Cumberland River. The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion is a two-CD set that offers a hefty ...

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Various Artists – Heal: Songs of Hope for our Nation

Various Artists Heal: Songs of Hope for our Nation Motown Gospel (release date: January 13, 2017) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Gospel music often functions as protest music. Either explicitly, as during the Black Power Movement of the late 1960s, or implicitly, with semi-coded lyrics like the spirituals before them, gospel songs fight back against an oppressive world with messages of faith and encouragement that trouble won’t last always. Heal: Songs of Hope for our Nation from Motown Gospel offers ten examples of how contemporary gospel music is poised to carry on the fight against evil and oppression in today’s uncertain political climate. The ...

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