Reviews

Damion Murrill & Siloam – Take a Stand

Damion Murrill & Siloam Take a Stand Divinity Music Group (release date: June 9, 2015) https://www.facebook.com/damionmurrill2 By Bob Marovich On his debut solo CD, Take a Stand, Damion Murrill demonstrates effective tutelage as a protégé of Donald Lawrence as he leads his own gospel group, Siloam (pron. Sill-OAM) on a baker’s dozen of thoughtful and rousing selections. Damion Murrill & Siloam possess that room-filling extroverted vocal sound representative of today’s contemporary gospel ensembles. The musicians’ complex chords and learned changes are also emblematic of this popular style. What is distinctive about Take a Stand, however, is its lyrical emphasis on ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 3, 2015

“I’ll Be the One” Bri Babineaux Marquis Boone Enterprises (2015) www.brination.org Bri (Briana) Babineaux eagerly accepts the call to discipleship on her debut single, “I’ll Be the One.” The lovely twenty-year-old coed from the University of Louisiana evokes another emerging artist, Casey J, by placing her youthful and confident voice atop sinuous musicianship and supportive background vocalists. The gentle P&W ballad caught the industry by surprise when it debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Gospel Digital Download chart. It made history by landing the top spot without major radio airplay, personal appearances, or prior sales. It also entered the Hot Singles Sales Chart ...

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Funmilayo Ngozi – Unconstrained

Funmilayo Ngozi Unconstrained Unconstrained Music (2015) www.funmilayongozi.com By Bob Marovich A cursory look at Nigerian singer Funmilayo Ngozi’s name might suggest that her music is steeped in the African gospel tradition. In actuality, Ngozi lives in Augusta, Georgia, and studied and is a music educator in the U.S.  She served as a background vocalist on Trey McLaughlin & Sounds of Zamar’s Limitless album and the Beulah Grove Baptist Church’s Live at the Grove CD. Ngozi’s debut solo album, Unconstrained, is true to its title in more ways than one.  Although the title refers to unfettered worship and praise, the songs are ...

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“Victory Right Now” – Angela “Missy” Billups

“Victory Right Now” Angela “Missy” Billups From My Inspiration II E’Mazin Entertainment (2015) Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon Remember the days when disc jockeys would listen to the B side of a record and decide that was the hit? “Get a Job” by the Silhouettes is just one of many examples of flip sides that became radio classics. “Victory Right Now,” from Angela “Missy” Billups’s EP remix of the single, “My Inspiration,” fills this bill. Traditional gospel with a powerful message of hope and faith is Missy’s strong suit and that’s what the uptempo “Victory” is about. It’s hard ...

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Laura Kaczor – Restore Me

Laura Kaczor Restore Me LifeThirst Music (release date: July 10, 2015) www.laurakaczor.com By Bob Marovich Restore Me is Laura Kaczor’s (pronounced kuh-ZORE)’s fourth album and first in five years. It extends her work as a Christian songstress who knows just how to craft Billboard-charting gospels. Kaczor’s voice is lovely to listen to, passionate and pretty, a mashup of Katy Perry sass and Sheryl Crow clarity. She is backed by a thoroughly-produced pop rock sound, courtesy of Dove Award-winning producer Ian Eskelin, and the melodies are likeable if somewhat similar, not wavering much from today’s familiar CCM vibe. The ten selections ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 27, 2015

“He Was Always There (That’s Why I Praise Him)” Zenobia Dewely Available on Amazon.com How can you not love a woman who “sangs” and runs a baked goods enterprise at the same time? Zenobia Pinckney Dewely, owner of Zenobia’s Sweet Tooth, is known as the “Cookie Lady,” but she sings the sweetening out of “He Was Always There (That’s Why I Praise Him).” Accompanied by a warbling B3 and an appreciative congregation, Dewely proclaims, “They said I would not make it / But my God, He stepped in right on time.”  The organ follows Dewely as she delivers her tuneful ...

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Jenise La Vonne – The Call

Jenise La Vonne The Call Unusually Anointed Music Group (release date: June 5, 2015) www.lovejeniselavonne.com By Bob Marovich Apostle Lymus Johnson, a fiery preacher winding up to full whoop mode, opens New York singer Jenise La Vonne’s EP The Call.  To an overlain modern beat, Apostle Johnson poses the question that serves as the project’s theme: God is calling you to repent – will you answer Him or not? On the surface, a heaven-or-hell question may appear far too weighty to hover over the project of an emerging young talent, whose sweetness and runway model comportment would suggest a more blissful view of ...

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Karen Clark Sheard – Destined to Win

Karen Clark Sheard Destined to Win Karew Records (2015) www.karewrecords.com By Bob Marovich “Can I take some time to talk to you? / To share a message to encourage you?” Karen Clark Sheard asks in “The Who Doesn’t Matter,” the opening of her new CD, Destined to Win, and a selection featuring fellow songstress Faith Evans. Sheard’s simple request sets the thematic tone for a live album that is chock-a-block with airs of encouragement and reassurance that no matter what happens in life, God will be there to make things right. Just believe and don’t give up. Bolstered by the deft ...

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Jason Alvarez – Time for Miracles

Jason Alvarez Time for Miracles (release date: March 23, 2015) www.jamm.org By Bob Marovich Ever wonder what happened to the bearded guy who sang alongside Sylvia Robinson on the 1975 proto-disco hit “Shame Shame Shame?” The guy who “got my sun roof down, got my diamond in the back” and implored you in a high-pitched shout to “put on your shaky wig, baby?” Jason Alvarez became a music star, but with that came an unfortunate addiction to drugs. With the help of his wife, Gale, Alvarez got clean, got saved, signed a record deal with Light Records, but then forsook ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 20, 2015

“Back to Basics 2.0 – The Remix” Mel Holder feat. Gerald Alston Psalmist Music Group (2015) www.melholder.com There’s a first time for everything, and saxophonist Mel Holder’s single, “Back to Basics,” may be the first gospel song to include a slithery klezmer riff. A chugging beat doubles the tempo of the original “Back to Basics” as guest vocalist Gerald Alston of the Manhattans reflects back on the power and the glory of old school church. He implores listeners to “get back to the rudiments: prayer, praise, worship, and the Word.” Born in Queens, New York, of Panamanian descent, the Grammy- and ...

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