Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: May 2, 2016

“Oh How We Love YOU” Tiff Joy From the Tyscot Records CD Tiff Joy www.tyscot.com The second single from Tiff (“Amazing”) Joy’s eponymously titled album from 2015, “Oh How We Love YOU” finds the award-winning singer-songwriter leading an exuberant group of background vocalists on one of those rigorous praise pieces that may not be in the hymnbook but appears with regularity at gospel music programs. Written by a team of talented songwriters (Tiff Joy, Phillip and Angel Feaster, and Calvin Rodgers), “Oh How We Love YOU” has so much motive power, clapping along is almost compulsory. Destined to be a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 25, 2016

“Glorify” The Gospel Starlights (released March 2016) www.gospelstarlights.com The Gospel Starlights of Tifton, Georgia, have been on the gospel highway since 1990. What is distinctive about the quartet is that it is comprised of four women and one man, as opposed to the more typical single-gender quartet structure. It makes sense when you realize that all the members are family: they formed the group in the home of their parents, Bennie Frank and Betty Gean Hill. One could say that the male-female personnel makes it more of a gospel group than a quartet, but make no mistake: on their new ...

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Various Artists – Halo: The One-Derful! Collection

Various Artists Halo: The One-Derful! Collection Secret Stash Records (release date of CD: April 15, 2016; LP available since February 2016) www.secretstashrecords.com By Bob Marovich During the 1950s and 1960s, Chicago record men and brothers George and Ernie Leaner helped transform South Michigan Avenue’s famed “Motor Row” (of auto dealerships) into Record Row. In addition to helping Ernie with their record distribution company on Boul Mich, George Leaner organized One-Derful! Records and several subsidiaries, including one exclusively designated for a gospel music series: Halo. With meticulous detail and in concert with the Leaner Family, Minnesota’s Secret Stash Records has been releasing samples ...

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R.E.V. – Beyond Armageddon

R.E.V. Beyond Armageddon (2016) www.revgospel.com By Bob Marovich R.E.V. and Beyond Armageddon are the brainchildren of Detroiter Dennis M. Schultz. A lead and bass guitarist who for years balanced his day job with his passion for music, Schultz has had the notion to do this album since the 1990s. Some of the songs were written twenty years ago. He finally assembled the musicians and singers to create this album. The instrumentals, such as “Seasons Past (Deep Reflection),” “Eternal Voyager,” and the title track, are straightforward inspirational jazz pieces with Mike Joseph (alto sax), Michael Elder (tenor sax) and Darren McKinney (soprano sax) ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 18, 2016

“To Be Loved By God” Kimberly Palmer-Blackwell From the Thornewell Records album The Best of Kimberly Palmer-Blackwell, Vol. 1 www.cdbaby.com/cd/kimberlypalmer14 It’s Kimberly Palmer-Blackwell’s soaring, soulful vocal that sells “To Be Loved By God,” a heartfelt melody and just-right arrangement reminiscent of early 1980s R&B balladry. To depict God’s love as better than all earthly desires, Kimberly builds the emotion without resorting to melismatic runs or shouts. One can imagine the singer standing flatfooted and alone on an altar or stage, belting out this song in a powerful, resonant tone. Born in Ashtabula, Ohio, Kimberly Palmer-Blackwell is a member of the ...

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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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