Reviews

Dr. Clarence Eggleton and the Singing Ecclesiastics (s/t)

Dr. Clarence Eggleton and the Singing Ecclesiastics (self-titled) Clareton Music (2015) Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Dr. Clarence Eggleton, a GRAMMY-nominated songwriter who wrote for artists from the Reverend James Cleveland to Sara Jordan Powell, convened several talented vocalists to breathe life into a dozen compositions from his catalog of more than 500. The result is the self-titled project Dr. Clarence Eggleton and the Singing Ecclesiastics. Accompanied by a crew of very competent musicians and a seven-member mixed vocal group, one soloist after another steps to the microphone to put his or her own imprint on Eggleton’s creations. Many vocal colors—from ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 27, 2017

“I Am Triumphant” Michelle Brooks-Thompson (2017) www.michellebrooksthompsonmusic.com By Bob Marovich On her new single, “I Am Triumphant,” gospel songstress Michelle Brooks-Thompson and her background singers console those who feel defeated by letting them know they are already winners.  Their victory is already in the bag, through Christ Jesus. After the collective establishes the song’s premise, the BGVs maintain the mantra while Michelle breaks loose to weave a vocal tapestry of evangelistic passion, which includes a stave-soaring high note just before the song enters its cool down mode. Speaking of triumphant, Michelle, who was a finalist on Season 3 of NBC’s The Voice, recently won the top ...

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“Don’t Take Christ Out of Christmas” – Angelo and Veronica

“Don’t Take Christ Out of Christmas” Angelo and Veronica www.angeloandveronica.com By Bob Marovich Many Christmases ago, while driving through a suburb of Chicago, I passed a house with a giant lighted plastic Santa on the back deck. On the ground, in Santa’s shadow, was a miniscule Nativity scene. For me, Enormous Santa towering over the manger scene like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float remains the epitome of Christmas consumerism. This is just what husband-and-wife duo Angelo and Veronica are getting at in their single, “Don’t Take Christ Out of Christmas.” Opening with the jangle of jingle bells, the song evokes the ...

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The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio: Moving Up – The Early Years 1956-1965

The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio Moving Up – The Early Years 1956-1965 Gospel Friend (release date: November 17, 2017) www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio, were one of the hardest singing quartets on the gospel highway during the genre’s storied golden era. The quartet was part of touring packages that crisscrossed the country.  They eventually made it to the stage of the Apollo Theater and across the ocean to Europe. But as popular as the Gospelaires were, scant attention has been paid to them in the CD reissue market. It’s no surprise that Per Notini’s Gospel Friend label, the ...

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“Not Alone” – Eric Maurice Clark feat. Minister Tim White

“Not Alone” Eric Maurice Clark feat. Minister Tim White From Songs from the Heart (release date: October 2, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/ericmauriceclark By Bob Marovich For his album Songs from the Heart, emerging songwriter Eric Maurice Clark gathered together seasoned gospel singers and musicians to interpret his compositions, which range from Praise & Worship songs to neo-traditional fare. The extended intro to the churchy “Not Alone” has the stuffing sung out of it by Chicago’s Minister Tim White, who could sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and have people shouting. To Troy Garner’s gently warbling organ, White sings the verses straight and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 21, 2017

“Come Too Far” New Golden Crowns of Louisville, KY Sharp Records (release date: June 1, 2017) Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Organized in 1940 as the Golden Crowns, an a cappella quartet, the New Golden Crowns of Louisville, Kentucky, are comprised of a mixture of new members and a couple of veterans, notably lead singer Reverend Nathaniel Brown (50+ years) and guitar player Reverend Bobby Johnson (30+ years). “Come Too Far” is a drive-tempo hand clapper that riffs on the church catchphrase, “I’ve come too far, I can’t turn around,” as immortalized in the Alex Bradford classic “Too Close ...

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Ruth La’Ontra – I Got You

Ruth La’Ontra I Got You ALJR Music Group/Tyscot Records (release date: September 22, 2017) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich To the best of my recollection, the last time a Ruth Jones was in gospel music, she was a teenager singing with Sallie Martin. Finding it difficult to keep boy-crazy Ruth in check, Sallie returned her to her mother. Ruth later resurfaced as a solo artist, better known as the Queen of the Blues Dinah Washington. The new Ruth Jones goes by Ruth La’Ontra. On I Got You, the live follow-up to her debut release, So Good, Ruth showcases an instantly appealing gospel voice that ...

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Cheryl Fortune – Simply Cheryl

Cheryl Fortune Simply Cheryl LuDawn Music / Tyscot Records (release date: October 13, 2017) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich On a selection from her album Simply Cheryl, gospel singer-songwriter Cheryl Fortune sings: “You don’t know the half of it, and I just can’t tell it all.” Cheryl, a background vocalist for Kirk Franklin and the wife of gospel artist James Fortune until their marriage dissolved over his domestic abuse, may not tell it all but we get the drift. The album’s coded references to her recent personal history are exactly what we would have expected from this, her debut solo album.  Anything else would have ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 14, 2017

“Sweet Beulah Land” Eddie Ruth Bradford (release date: September 25, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/eddieruthbradford3 By Bob Marovich The gospel songbird of Clarksdale, Mississippi, is at it again, this time with a mournful hymn about the eternal home. Backed by minimal instrumentation and the producer’s voice multi-tracked to simulate a male quartet (and a good one, too), “Sweet Beulah Land” finds Eddie Ruth Bradford singing longingly about that place “across the river” where there will be no more goodbyes or sadness. The lonely, weary melody and ERB’s bluesy vocals express the fatigue of the soul living in an unforgiving earth, but the lyrics look ...

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Geneatha Wright – In His Presence

Geneatha Wright In His Presence Godfather Records (release date: June 30, 2017) www.geneatha.com By Bob Marovich Since the untimely and tragic passing of the Reverend Timothy Wright in 2009, the Wright family has endeavored to sustain his gospel legacy through their own contributions to the genre. In particular, Wright’s son, Pastor John David Wright, and his wife Geneatha (nee Daughtry) have for several years released music under David’s Godfather Records imprint, named for the late Reverend Timothy’s moniker as the Godfather of Gospel. For David, it’s been work with the New York Fellowship Mass Choir. For Geneatha, it’s been solo albums and ...

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