Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: August 1, 2016

“The Master’s Calling” Deborah Joy Winans Malaco Records www.malaco.com “The Master’s Calling” by singer and actor Deborah Joy Winans is at turns haunting, electrifying, and inspiring, and quite possibly one of the best gospel songs of the year. Written by Thad Cockrell, the song opens with a solemn piano and organ and features an earnest and delicate Winans answered by a commanding gospel choir. “Listen while you still can hear / The Master’s calling.” The daughter of contemporary gospel pioneer Carvin Winans, Deborah plays Charity Greenleaf-Satterlee on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) drama, Greenleaf, from whence the song comes. Although most know ...

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Kierra Sheard’s Bridges Tour Closes Gap between “Faith and Real Life”

By Bob Marovich The intimate Mayne Stage theater on Chicago’s North Side reverberated with blasts of EDM, raucous drums, snarling electric guitar, thumping bass, chiming keyboards, and an Apple computer churning out beats like a jukebox. The vocalists had the standing room only crowd on its feet, hands waving, dancing, and offering exuberant applause after each song. I’m not describing a rock or R&B concert but the Bridges Tour, starring contemporary gospel artists Kierra Sheard, Jojo Martin, and Jor’Dan Armstrong. Singer-songwriter, recording artist, actor, fashion designer, and media presence Sheard, whose mother is Karen Clark Sheard and grandmother the late ...

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“Such a Time as This” – Bryan Popin

“Such a Time as This” Bryan Popin Little Boy Wonder Music (rel. March 2016) www.bryanpopin.com Bryan Popin, the singer who Stevie Wonder once dubbed “Little Boy Wonder,” made his national debut as a gospel singer with 2013’s You Can Make It (eOne Music). The album’s message of encouragement and hope through Jesus resurfaces on Popin’s new single, “Such a Time as This.” Backed by a vocal ensemble, Popin figuratively rests his elbows on the table to empathize with the listener. “I know you hurt,” he sings, but with Jesus on your side, you will win, because “this is your time, ...

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William Murphy – Demonstrate

William Murphy Demonstrate RCA Inspiration (released June 24, 2016) www.williammurphy.org By Bob Marovich Recorded live in May 2015, in Douglasville, Georgia, at the Church at Chapel Hill, Bishop William Murphy’s Demonstrate is a worship service in a jewel case. Murphy’s husky vocals are commanding on this buoyant album, the singer’s fifth long-playing release. Whether as singer, worship leader, or preacher, Murphy keeps the spirit high and the program rolling, even during the more introspective moments. The melodies are memorable, the lyrics are intentionally simple, the harmonies are tight and spirited, and Murphy puts his stamp on all of it by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 25, 2016

“All I Need” Ramona J. Sanders From the CD Beginning With Me www.cdbaby.com/cd/ramonajsanders Opening with a tinkling piano and a marching beat, “All I Need” finds New York singer Ramona J. Sanders rendering praises to the Most High, the only one she really needs in her life, with genuine conviction and studied vocal versatility. She is supported by treble background vocalists who help her build the song’s intensity until the moment when the spirit is the highest and praises just spill out of Sanders with gut-wrenching, no-holds-barred passion. Gospel enthusiasts may remember Sanders as a member of the Angel’lics female gospel ...

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Bill Moss Jr. Live With Third New Hope: Songbook of Praise & Worship

Bill Moss Jr. Live with Third New Hope Songbook of Praise & Worship Salathiel Records www.billmossmusic.com By Bob Marovich Motor City singer-songwriter Bill Moss Jr.’s newest release, Songbook of Praise & Worship, is exactly what it is advertised to be. It’s a collection of ready-to-learn P&W songs rendered by Moss and a small but melodious choir from Detroit’s Third New Hope Baptist Church, where the album was recorded live on December 20, 2015. Besides offering a collection of P&W songs, each distinct from one another and all suitable for devotionals, the album contains a thematic undercurrent: the restorative property of ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 18, 2016

“More than a Conqueror” Gregory D and Company (available digitally) www.cbgministries.com During this election season, the concept of winning is tossed around like a greased football, but for Elder Gregory DeMyers Jr. (Gregory D) and his singers, winning is a far more personal, temporal, and even eternal pursuit. On the even-tempered but nonetheless passionate “More than a Conqueror,” DeMyers’ contemporary gospel ensemble Gregory D and Company sings of personal hope and encouragement in such a time as this. Drawing directly from Romans 8:37, the group proclaims that all are conquerors “through Him who loved us.” To bring it to street ...

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Viktory – Tomorrow Came

Viktory Tomorrow Came Viktorious Music Group (release date: June 17, 2016) www.r4ever.com By Bob Marovich The challenges of being different and the importance of overcoming the divisiveness of difference are at the heart of Tomorrow Came, a Christian hip hop project from the Chicago-born Viktory. Three tracks in particular address this issue in living color. Based on a true story, “Lunch Tables” features piercingly cool singing support from Ashliann (herself a mixture of cultures) as it tells the story of a “yellow kid” trying to find a seat in the school cafeteria, but nobody wants him because he’s neither black ...

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“Your Life’s About to Change” – The Canton Spirituals feat. Pastor Tim Rogers

“Your Life’s About to Change” The Canton Spirituals feat. Pastor Tim Rogers From the Malaco CD Keep Knocking (2016) www.malaco.com On “Your Life’s About to Change,” the veteran Canton Spirituals get down to spiritual brass tacks with able solo assistance from Pastor Tim Rogers (Tim Rogers & the Fellas). Turning on the story of a single mother struggling to care for her children, the assemblage rolls up its collective vocal sleeves, lays down a languid tempo, and sings about the one Father who knows how much we can bear and will never let us down. No prosperity theology here, no ...

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Various Artists: Motown Gospel Presents 1 Mic 1 Take

Various Artists Motown Gospel Presents 1 Mic 1 Take Motown Gospel (release date: June 3, 2016) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Imagine having one shot at getting it right in front of The Microphone in one of the most iconic recording studios in America: Capitol Studios in Hollywood, California. It is not unlike having one turn at bat at Yankee Stadium and the fans are expecting an out-of-the-park home run. Members of Motown Gospel’s current artist roster took their chances and came up with a solid third base hit on 1 Mic 1 Take. Although this album of stripped down gospel ...

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