Reviews

Peg Luke – Psalm Space

Peg Luke Psalm Space Peg Luke’s Cool Projects Records / New Day Christian Distributors (release date: August 16, 2019) www.psalmspace.com By Bob Marovich Over about a two-year period, flutist and composer Peg Luke created the oratorio Psalm Space from her favorite Psalms, hymns, and prayers. In addition to applying her classical music background—Luke’s flute recitals have sold out Carnegie Hall twelve times—she adopts the French Taize model for her methodology. This means restful, repetitive melodies delivered in a hypnotic chant-like manner. Like Taize, Psalm Space is orchestral music for a candlelit church, designed to lower blood pressure and allow the ...

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“Oh How Good It Is” – Byron Cage

“Oh How Good It Is” Byron Cage From the Malaco / AIR Release Isolation (release date: September 27, 2019) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Byron Cage, designated the Prince of Praise for helping popularize Praise & Worship music in African American churches, opens his new single, the cheerful “Oh How Good It Is,” with a declaration of praise. He wants to be “in the presence of the King”—so much so that it makes him want to shout, holler, and throw up his hands. Not out of anger and frustration, like Marvin Gaye, but out of joy and gratitude. Halfway through the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 23, 2019

“I Know He’s Been Good” Linda Sanders Higher Praise Records (2019) By Bob Marovich You can take the woman out of the quartet, but you cannot take the quartet out of the woman. In the case of Linda Sanders, that’s a good thing. After many years of singing gospel quartet with a number of groups, most notably the Zion Travelers of East St. Louis, and about a year providing lead vocals for a recording group called De’Vine, Sanders of St. Louis has gone solo. Her debut single, “I Know He’s Been Good” has all the components of quartet singing. Backed ...

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William McDowell – The Cry: A Live Worship Experience

William McDowell The Cry: A Live Worship Experience Integrity Music (release date: September 20, 2019) www.WilliamMcDowellMusic.com By Bob Marovich I’ve always felt that Praise & Worship music ought to be recorded live. Since it comes out of the worship experience, why not capture it in this same environment? That’s what William McDowell has done with The Cry: A Live Worship Experience. The advent of digital distribution has made possible an album like this, with a total of eighteen tracks that provide more than two hours of singing and instrumental and spoken word interludes. The album, McDowell’s sixth, was recorded not ...

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I Made It Out – John P. Kee

John P. Kee I Made It Out Entertainment One Music (release date: September 13, 2019) www.eOneMusic.com By Bob Marovich In little more than a generation, Pastor John P. Kee has gone from the new kid on the block to the Prince of Gospel Music, a leading light whose name is frequently invoked by the current generation of gospel artists.as an inspiration. I Made It Out is Kee’s first album for Entertainment One since joining the label earlier this year. It’s also his first release since 2015’s Level Next. Those who grew up on Pastor Kee with the New Life Community ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 16, 2019

“I Can Do Anything” Joanna Hale-McGill McGill Music Group (release date: June 22, 2019) From the CD New Sound, Same God Vol. 1 www.JoannaHaleMcGill.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Joanna Hale-McGill has a keen ear for song hooks. On “I Can Do Anything,” the praise & worship leader of His Will Worship Center in Slidell, Louisiana, embeds memorable hooks in the lyrics, in the music, in the bits of electronica, in the overall arrangement, and sometimes even in the spaces between. The song is an anthem of heaven-bestowed empowerment bathed in a bubbly, shoulder-shaking vibe and driven by insistent eighth notes ...

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James Fortune – Dream Again

James Fortune Dream Again eOne Music / FIYA World Music (release date: August 23, 2019) www.entertainmentone.com By Bob Marovich I admit to having had significant misgivings when I was approached to review James Fortune’s new album, Dream Again. The gospel artist’s guilty pleadings to assaulting his wife Cheryl Fortune and earlier, to felony injury to his stepson, left me profoundly disappointed and angry. Why condone such behavior by acting as if it didn’t happen? My inkling was to never review his music again. Later, I read an article in which Fortune expressed remorse for what he had done and indicated ...

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Nikki Berry – Journey to Restoration

Nikki Berry Journey to Restoration Reviving Dreams Enterprises (release date: November 8, 2018) www.nikkiberrymusic.com By Bob Marovich Houston, Texas-based singer-songwriter Nikki Berry is one of the only gospel singers I know who also has a degree in mechanical engineering. I met Berry this summer at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards celebration in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she was crowned Ms. N.I.G.M.A. (National and Independent Gospel Music Awards). Journey to Restoration is her latest album. Striving and overcoming are the thematic strands that hold the project together and are, in her hands, the motive forces of achieving restoration. For example, “The ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 10, 2019

“Grateful” James Chappell III Independent (release date: October 5, 2018) aplazmanagementllc@gmail.com By Bob Marovich “Grateful” is a charming, smile-inducing song on its own, but add James Chappell III as lead vocalist, and it delights on two levels. In less than three minutes, Chappell channels the elastic yodels of Sam Cooke and Johnny Taylor, lofts falsetto notes like the Reverend Claude Jeter, adds a bit of Reverend Al Green southern twang, and delivers gut-wrenching growls like Joe Ligon. Backed by a quartet and with a rhythm section galloping along in mid-tempo, Chappell sounds as pleased with God’s intervention in his life ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 2, 2019

“He Worked It Out” Leah Oduro-Kwarten Ok Productions (release date: June 22, 2018) By Bob Marovich A lead vocalist with the Illinois Midwest Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Choir under Dr. Cynthia Nunn, Leah Oduro-Kwarten, better known as Lady Flo, flexes her Chicago chops on this high energy aisle walker. Lady Flo lends her smoky alto to songwriter Angela Frazier’s double-time shout of hallelujah. An effervescent group of background vocalists serves as the choir to Lady Flo’s evangelistic declamations. The “work it out” vamp is reminiscent of Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer’s “He Can Work It Out,” but without the baby needing shoes. When ...

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