Reviews

“Your Life’s About to Change” – The Canton Spirituals feat. Pastor Tim Rogers

“Your Life’s About to Change” The Canton Spirituals feat. Pastor Tim Rogers From the Malaco CD Keep Knocking (2016) www.malaco.com On “Your Life’s About to Change,” the veteran Canton Spirituals get down to spiritual brass tacks with able solo assistance from Pastor Tim Rogers (Tim Rogers & the Fellas). Turning on the story of a single mother struggling to care for her children, the assemblage rolls up its collective vocal sleeves, lays down a languid tempo, and sings about the one Father who knows how much we can bear and will never let us down. No prosperity theology here, no ...

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Various Artists: Motown Gospel Presents 1 Mic 1 Take

Various Artists Motown Gospel Presents 1 Mic 1 Take Motown Gospel (release date: June 3, 2016) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Imagine having one shot at getting it right in front of The Microphone in one of the most iconic recording studios in America: Capitol Studios in Hollywood, California. It is not unlike having one turn at bat at Yankee Stadium and the fans are expecting an out-of-the-park home run. Members of Motown Gospel’s current artist roster took their chances and came up with a solid third base hit on 1 Mic 1 Take. Although this album of stripped down gospel ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 11, 2016

“Holy Spirit” Nia Allen (available from digital music outlets) www.niaallenmusic.com From the first few bars of “Holy Spirit,” praise and worship singer-songwriter Nia Allen draws the listener in with her lithe and lovely soprano, her tone breathing in the song’s reverent invitation for the Holy Spirit to come and fill the room. Written by Jesus Culture’s Bryan and Katie Torwalt, and providing them a GRAMMY for Best Christian Song of the Year, “Holy Spirit” is delicate and dramatic, blending the atmospheric strains of CCM with gospel-inspired vocal improvisation. No stranger to recording—she has two solo albums to her credit—Allen is a Berklee College ...

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Shirley Caesar – Fill This House

Shirley Caesar Fill This House Entertainment One Music (release date: June 3, 2016) www.shirleycaesar.com By Bob Marovich From its days as a seedling in the American soil, black sacred music has been a balm to soothe the sin-sick soul as well as the soul beaten down by life’s humiliations and insults. Even in a time when praise and worship reigns supreme in gospel music, there is still a need, especially given the condition of the black man and woman in modern America, for inspiring songs of hope and encouragement. Pastor Shirley Caesar has been lifting such songs for more than ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 5, 2016

“Closer to You” Carrington Gaines From the EP The Process (released November, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/carringtongaines Cut from the same musical mold as current gospel vocalists Jonathan McReynolds and Travis Greene, Carrington Gaines offers “Closer to You.” It’s an introspective ballad led by acoustic guitar and propelled by a delicate finger-popping beat. At one point, the song possesses the lyrical and melodic gravitas of a hymn.  At other times, it unfolds like an informal prayer closet conversation. Throughout, Gaines declares that he will seek restoration of his connection with God after a past marked by separation. A native of Buffalo, New York, ...

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Myron Butler & Levi – On Purpose

Myron Butler & Levi On Purpose Motown Gospel (release date: June 10, 2016) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Like Kurt Carr, Myron Butler has carved out a niche for himself in the popular Praise & Worship category of black sacred music. His albums offer praise teams a bounty of songs to digest just as the Thompson Community Singers, a group whose work Butler absorbed as intently as that of Thomas Whitfield, offered directors new gems to teach their church choirs. It’s no surprise, then, that energetic P&W cuts predominate on Butler’s new album, On Purpose, which debuted atop the Billboard gospel ...

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Eagle Rock Gospel Singers – Hammer and Nail: A Tribute to the Staple Singers

The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers Hammer and Nail: A Tribute to the Staple Singers (release date: June 17, 2016) www.ergospelsingers.com By Bob Marovich Imagine female harmonies containing the thunderous power of the Mamas and the Papas’ Cass Elliott and Michelle Phillips, and a rock band–all covering Staple Singers classics, and you have an idea of the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers’ Hammer and Nail EP. The ensemble, which loves and respects traditional African American gospel, makes three Staples “staples” its own. “From day one, the Staple Singers have been a primary influence,” said Eagle Rock Gospel Singers co-founder Jeremy Horton. “From naming ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 27, 2016

“Christian Walk” Darren Deac From the Quality of Life Music album Christian Walk www.cdbaby.com/cd/darrendeac Just because we walk in the path of righteousness doesn’t mean we can’t throw a little shape to our step. That’s what Christian Hip Hop artist “Darren Deac” Edward demonstrated to the audience at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards main event last Saturday evening in Memphis, Tennessee. The “Christian Walk” is a modified two-step, a sanctified shuffle. The song has an infectious hook and an explicit message that expounds the life-giving power of service and prayer. From Newark, New Jersey, Edward started his career in secular ...

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Livre’ – Jericho: The Tribe of Joshua

Livre’ Jericho: The Tribe of Joshua Glory 2 Glory Records / MBK Records / Sony RED Association Labels (release date: May 20, 2016) By Bob Marovich If part of today’s political rhetoric is about building walls, Livre’ is about knocking them down. Eliminating life’s barriers is the premise of the group’s sonically delightful Jericho: The Tribe of Joshua. At times, the five-member power vocal group from the Bronx (their name is pronounced LIVE-ray and means “free” in Latin) delivers its message in bright, optimistic tones, and at other times, it speaks from a relatable vulnerability. Regardless, the group argues that ...

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Micah Stampley – To the King. . .Vertical Worship Live

Micah Stampley To the King. . .Vertical Worship Live Interface Entertainment (May 20, 2016) www.micahstampley.org By Bob Marovich When Micah Stampley addresses the “generation rising” on his new CD, To the King. . .Vertical Worship Live, he certainly knows his audience. The musical worship service, recorded live at Oasis Family Life Church in Dallas, Georgia, last year, will especially resonate with the young generation of churchgoers who thrive on the atmospheric flow of Praise & Worship music. The gospel crooner provides plenty of vertical P&W on this, his first live recording. While many of the songs are new, others, such as ...

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