Reviews

Various Artists – Jesus Rocked the Jukebox

Various Artists Jesus Rocked the Jukebox Craft Records / Concord Music Group (2017) http://www.concordmusicgroup.com/albums/jesus-rocked-jukebox-small-group-black-gospel-1951-1965/ By Bob Marovich In addition to its estimable contributions to the religious, social, and political life of African Americans, the church has also been an effective music training school. Untold numbers of men and women have learned to sing or play instruments before discerning but sympathetic church communities. While some singers and musicians committed their musical talent wholly to God, others sought fame in the financially lucrative world of rock and roll and R&B. This exit caused no small amount of consternation among churchgoers who felt that ...

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Darnell Davis & the Remnant – Live Again

Darnell Davis & the Remnant Live Again D Davis Entertainment / MVP Productions (release date: August 11, 2017) www.darnelldavismusic.com By Bob Marovich Those who know Darnell Davis’s story—those who don’t can read it here—will understand why the overarching theme of his new album with the Remnants, Live Again, is spiritual survival. From the opening selection, “I Am a Miracle,” to the devil’s dirty dealings in “No You Can’t Have It,” to the churchy call-and-response of “I’m Still Here,” the lyrics speak of the battle one wages against the insistent and persistent force of evil. The title’s double meaning helps hammer home this ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 10, 2017

“I’ve Got to Win” Tonya Lewis-Taylor From the EARS Entertainment Group I’ve Got to Win 2.0 (EP, released August 24, 2017) www.tonyalewistaylor.com By Bob Marovich “I’ve Got to Win” is Tonya Lewis-Taylor at her most expressive. This slow burner of a title track is a modified and more radio-ready version of the title track and emotional highpoint of her 2014 live album, Delayed but Not Denied. Like its predecessor, the inspirational “I’ve Got to Win” benefits from delicate musical accompaniment that provides Lewis-Taylor ample room to emote about how she has persisted in her journey despite almost insurmountable odds. A ...

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Debbie Cochran – Born Again Wildflower

Debbie Cochran Born Again Wildflower Independent Release (release date: June 16, 2017) www.debbiecochran.com By Bob Marovich Debbie Cochran, the Arkansas singer whose “Faith Can” was a JGM Pick of the Week in September 2016, scores big by landing Dolly Parton as a duet partner on the title track of her new album, Born Again Wildflower. Cochran, a self-described “classic country” singer, has a voice that is wizened, expressive, and passionate. Her rich, low warble evokes another classic country singer, Kitty Wells, and her aggressive vocal projection reminds me of Opry stars. Her street-level lyrics are like country poetry, not unlike Dolly ...

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Mighty Gospel Inspirations – In Black and White

The Mighty Gospel Inspirations In Black and White Independent Release (2009) http://theboguesound.com/mgi.html By Bob Marovich A cappella quartet singing may not be nearly as widespread in today’s gospel music market as it once was, but it hasn’t gone away completely. For nearly half a century, the Mighty Gospel Inspirations of Durham, North Carolina, have kept the tradition alive. The biracial group’s 2009 release, In Black and White, is a sampling of their harmonistic approach. Representing the quartet on the album are brothers Mike and Ken Sanders, Larry Perry, James Bailey, and Robert Waldrop. In Black and White sounds like someone turned ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 2, 2017

“Even Then” Rev. Luther Barnes & the Restoration Worship Center Choir From the Shanachie / SRT CD The Favor of God www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Man plans and God laughs, the saying goes. “Even Then,” the latest single from Reverend Barnes’ 2016 CD, The Favor of God, is about man trying to understand God’s plan for his life, especially during the challenging moments. In this case, Barnes thinks he knows his destiny but questions God’s thinking when it goes awry. Like the famous “Footprints” poem, Barnes realizes that God was there all the time, carrying him through the darkest hours ...

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Marvin Williams – Gospel Sing Night

Marvin Williams Gospel Sing Night Independent Release 2016 https://form.jotform.us/marvinwilliams/shop-with-marvin-williams- By Bob Marovich Gospel Sing Night, a combination CD and DVD offering from Arkansas-based pianist and singer Marvin Williams, contains the same zestful singing of traditional gospel songs and church hymns that the late Bishop G. E. Patterson presented in 2005 and 2006 in his two-volume Singing the Old Time Way. One difference between Patterson’s and Williams’s projects: instead of simply offering a congregational singalong, Williams talks about the components of an old fashioned worship service as he presents songs associated with each part. Including everything but the offering and altar call, Williams’s narrative, singing, ...

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Marvin Sapp – Close

Marvin Sapp Close RCA Inspiration (release date: September 29, 2017) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Ever since 2007’s Thirsty and its crossover hit, “Never Would Have Made It,” a Marvin Sapp album release has become something of a special event. As a result, every one of his albums, starting with Thirsty, has hit the number one position on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart. Close, released tomorrow on RCA Inspiration, is probably going to be the next number one for Bishop Sapp, whose muscular voice and aggressive delivery reminds me of his fellow Commissioned member, Fred Hammond. The album, produced by longtime collaborator Aaron Lindsey, opens ...

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“Calvary’s Cross” – Min. David A. Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions

“Calvary’s Cross” Minister David A. Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions (release date: September 29, 2017) http://dawhitfieldproductions.webs.com/ By Bob Marovich On their latest single, “Calvary’s Cross,” Minister David Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions raise aloft the standard of expansive contemporary choir singing established in part by David’s uncle, the late Maestro Thomas Whitfield. This call-and-response piece on the cleansing power of Jesus’s death on the cross is produced by Pastor Rudolph Stanfield Jr., another towering giant of Detroit gospel. Thunderous singing, thick harmonies, and melancholy instrumentation rise toward the conclusion like the ascent to Calvary. Whitfield Productions can trace its founding to a May 18, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 25, 2017

“Enter In” Chrystal Rucker HBK Media (2017) By Bob Marovich Chrystal Rucker is one of the finest voices in gospel music today. Her vocal talent is on ample display on “Enter In,” the follow up to her Top 30 single, “Excuse Me.” The finer of the two singles, “Enter In” is a prayerful, uncomplicated worship ballad that allows Rucker sufficient space to improvise. Supported by powerful background voices, she builds from soft to sanctified, tossing in growls, shouts, and skyrocketing flights of soprano to convince the saved and sinner alike that when we come to the end of ourselves, when we can ...

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