Reviews

Kebra – Under the Influence

Kebra Under the Influence Mokeb Entertainment (2014) www.kebramoore.com By Bob Marovich It is no understatement when, on her new EP Under the Influence, singer-songwriter Kebra Moore sings “I have a testimony.” On Christmas Eve 1999, Kebra, her fiancé, and fourteen-month-old son were heading home to Arkansas from New Orleans, where they were making final wedding preparations, when they were involved in an auto accident. While the fiancé and son escaped without injury, Kebra was left a paraplegic. Turning tragedy into possibility, Kebra became a spokesperson for the disabled. She was named Miss Wheelchair Mississippi 2013 and earlier this year launched ...

Read More »

TBGB Pick of the Week: September 1, 2014

“Deep Down” Kendra Smith From the DeVine Records Management CD Something New (2014) www.kendrasmith.org Independent artists fuel the future of gospel music. Without their hunger and desire to be heard, the genre would be in perpetual danger of stagnating. Proof positive: seventeen-year-old Kendra Smith of Florence, South Carolina. The 2012 South Carolina Music Awards Gospel Artist of the Year and Rhythm of Gospel Award nominee, indie artist Smith is a young woman with a commanding voice and confident presence. Her new single, “Deep Down,” has an old soul but a modern beat.  Smith has the love of Jesus “way down, deep down ...

Read More »

The Soul of Designer Records

Various Artists The Soul of Designer Records Big Legal Mess (2014) www.biglegalmessrecords.com By Bob Marovich In the days before YouTube and other social media outlets, before mp3s and CDs and music maker software for home computers, gospel artists looking for greater promotion but without a major label deal sought out the expertise of bootstrap entrepreneurs such as Idessa Malone and Style Wooten. While Malone recorded church choirs and radio preachers, Wooten recorded hundreds of black and white gospel artists for his Designer imprint. Wooten’s pitch was simple: for a flat rate, artists could make a studio recording and have copies of ...

Read More »

“Everything Must Change” – Dottie Peoples

“Everything Must Change” Dottie Peoples DP Musik Group (2014) www.dottiepeoples.com “Everything Must Change” is Dottie Peoples like you are not used to hearing her. Dottie doffs the traditional pulse for which she is so well known and goes Nina Simone on this slow inspirational ballad about that which is inevitable. Indeed, Simone recorded the song in the 1970s, although the original was waxed by Quincy Jones, featuring the song’s composer, Benard Ighner, on vocals. Dottie does a fine job with this contemplative song.  She transitions from jazzy chanteuse to fiery evangelist when, later in the performance, she uses the lyric, ...

Read More »

“More of You” – Canton Jones feat. Darlene McCoy

“More of You” Canton Jones feat. Darlene McCoy From the CD God City USA (2014) Cajo Records By Libra Boyd, Guest Reviewer Gospel Music Fever In one of several collaborations from his newest release, God City USA, singer/writer/producer Canton Jones teams up with songstress and radio personality Darlene McCoy for a moderately-paced Christian hip-hop performance of “More of You.” McCoy kicks off the track’s opening verse with a melodic declaration of adoration and submission before sharing the mic with Jones for a harmonic duet of the chorus: “Just give me all of You and none of me, Lord / Let Your kingdom ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: August 25, 2014

“A Lil’ Louder (Clap Your Hands)” Rance Allen Group Tyscot Records (2014) www.tyscot.com A gospel trio that was blurring the barriers between the music of Saturday night and Sunday morning in the late 1960s, the Rance Allen Group returns to the funky style that brought them national attention with “A Lil’ Louder (Clap Your Hands).” From the thudding bass line to Rance’s trademark shouts of spiritual ecstasy and sanctified scatting, the song encourages every listener to get on up and worship. Dance, clap your hands, stomp your feet, raise your voice, and scream, sing the group, all to punctuation from the ...

Read More »

Sherry Songbird – Made For You

Sherry Songbird Made for You Family First Productions (2014) www.sherrysongbird.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Sherry Songbird’s sophomore release is an EP called Made For You. The six selections are sunny vertical praise songs written by Songbird, and the understated instrumentation, led by acoustic piano and guitar, spotlights her light but passionate soprano. Set to a robust string section, the title track expresses the joy of accepting Christ. Although the rests in the music pause too long for comfort, and the tempo could be quicker, Songbird delivers the lyrics with appropriate drama and stave-jumping notes that earned her stage name. While ...

Read More »

Joe Douglass & Spirit of Praise – Redemption

Joe Douglass & Spirit of Praise Redemption Daveshand Productions (2014) www.joedouglassministries.com By Bob Marovich Joe Douglass & Spirit of Praise pulls out all the stops on Redemption. Douglass, a twenty-five-year-old Californian, organized Spirit of Praise a few years ago. The group released a single, “It Belongs to You,” in April 2012 and subsequently recorded Redemption, their debut live CD. It was released in June 2014. A lineup of gospel stars populates the album, although they were not necessary, as SOP is a strong vocal organization in its own right. A better than average “&” group in a galaxy of “&” ...

Read More »

Smokie Norful – Forever Yours

Smokie Norful Forever Yours Tre Myles Music / Motown Gospel (2014) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Grammy Award-winning vocalist Smokie Norful burst upon the national stage in 2002 with the breakout hit, “I Need You Now.” The song, featuring Norful’s trademark melismatic tenor, not only garnered significant gospel radio airplay, but also made the playlist of nighttime Quiet Storm programming. A licensed minister even before his solo career took flight, Norful founded Victory Cathedral Worship Center in suburban Chicago in 2005 and has released at least three recorded sermons. Forever Yours, the latest fruit of his labors, explores new musical territory ...

Read More »

Preachers of L.A.: New Season, Same Drama

“Preachers of L.A.” Oxygen New Season Starts Wednesday, August 20 10/9C By Bob Marovich “Preachers of L.A.,” the reality series featuring six successful Los Angeles-based pastors and their families, enters its second season today on Oxygen. Bishop Noel Jones, Minister Deitrick Haddon, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Pastor Jay Haizlip, Pastor Wayne Chaney, and Bishop Ron Gibson are back with more drama. The opening episode centers on the newly-married Deitrick and Dominique Haddon’s “sip and see,” a house party to introduce their new baby daughter, Denver Monroe, to close friends. Innocent enough, yes, but contentious conversations and strained friendships cast a shadow ...

Read More »