Reviews

“Here I Am” – Team David

“Here I Am” Team David From the Muscle Shoals Sound Gospel album Here I Am (August 2014) www.malaco.com Employing Boys II Men harmonies and balladry, the modern gospel group Team David delivers the finger-popping “Here I Am,” a cleverly penned song about turning one’s life over to Jesus. Rather than use the phrases typically used to describe the conversion process, Team David instead employs the metaphor of turning oneself in for a crime committed. After acknowledging that “I am guilty, filthy of sin” and “I did the crime, now I must do the time,” the group asks God to “Sentence me to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 13, 2014

“Hallelujah” Jewell & Converted From the Malaco CD For Real www.malaco.com “Hallelujah” is an up-tempo praiser from St. Louis-based female quartet Jewell & Converted. About a third of the way through, the lead singer gets downright Pentecostal, shouting and squalling about how she wants to “get her praise out,” then performs an extended call-and-response with the rest of the ladies, who maintain steady rhythmic harmonies. The musicians provide the quintessential hip-slapping accompaniment, complete with drum/bass backbeat and organ flourishes. A show stopper. Jewell & Converted organized in 2001 and is comprised of Jewell Taylor, Lydia Jones, Ni’Asia Hatch-Boyd, and Bablen ...

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Natasha Gray – Born

Natasha Gray Born Jeneyus Productions (2014) www.NatashaGrayArea.com By Bob Marovich Natasha Gray’s debut album, Born, is what I would term “progressive gospel.” Somewhat like a portion of Zi’el’s recent project, Pronounced ZY-EL, Born wraps inspirational songs in ambient soundscapes of electronica and beat with occasional rock flourishes. Gray (Natasha Simmons) has a simmering voice, at times sensuous, and she is nothing if not consistently deliberate in lyric delivery. She sings her prettiest on “Make Me Over,” an a cappella song of personal conversion. She delivers her most powerful vocals on the album’s lead single, “Just Know God Cares.”  The latter ...

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“God Will” – Kergyma Community Choir

“God Will” Kergyma Community Choir From the album Kergyma: The Proclamation www.kergyma.org Never let it be said that the Kergyma Community Choir doesn’t put on its shouting shoes once in a while. With evocations of the Cosmopolitan Warriors, Ricky Dillard & New G, and JJ Hairston and YP, the choir goes full throttle on “God Will.” Gwendolyn B. Williams, Beatrice Summerville, and Pastor Kevin Bond lead the full-throated choir in reassuring listeners that no matter what the doctor says or what is lacking financially, “God will take care of you.” Brief but impactful. Founded in 2001 by Gwendolyn Busch and Arnold ...

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Coming April 2015: A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music

Journal of Gospel Music Editor-in-Chief Bob Marovich has written the definitive history of gospel music from Chicago, the genre’s birthplace.  Available from the University of Illinois Press starting in April 2015. Read more here: UI Press | Robert Marovich | A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music.

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JGM’s Pick of the Week: October 6, 2014

“The Greater” J. Grant Thompson Available on iTunes and other digital outlets on October 7, 2014 “The Greater” is the debut single from Washington, DC singer, songwriter, producer, and PK J. Grant Thompson. A notable debut it is. It is the gorgeous arrangement that imbues this lyrically and musically uncomplicated P&W anthem with its distinctive character. Thompson establishes an effective call and response with the background vocalists. I can imagine “The Greater” becoming just as popular with praise teams as songs by William McDowell and VaShawn Mitchell.

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Minister C.L. Johnson – Favor

Minister C.L. Johnson Favor Doowgam Records (2011) http://wreg.weebly.com/index.html By Bob Marovich Given Minister Craig L. Johnson’s career as a member of several gospel quartets, most notably the Pilgrim Wonders of Toledo, the Revelations of Cincinnati and, most recently, his reformation of the Flint Cavaliers, it’s not surprising his solo album, Favor, sounds more like a quartet album. Johnson’s background vocalists are male and female, but they support him like a male quartet. Favor’s strongest selection is “Havin’ Church,” a clever song that is also the title track of the Flint Cavaliers 2013 album for Low Rush/Grammercy. Here, Johnson joins forces with ...

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New Converted Voices – New Day: Live in Tupelo, MS

The New Converted Voices New Day – Live in Tupelo, MS (2014) www.newconvertedvoices.org By Bob Marovich “You may have come in with your head hung down, but you go ahead and lift it up and smile.” This is how the New Converted Voices opens the title track of their new album, New Day – Live in Tupelo, MS. The quartet is speaking about the uplifting power of Jesus, but the comment can also mean their confidence in the uplifting power of their live performance. The New Converted Voices are a contemporary quartet from Tupelo that blends old-school religious wisdom, traditional ...

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“It’s Our Time” – Dr. Vera Goodman & Anointed Praise

“It’s Our Time” Dr. Vera Goodman & Anointed Praise First Lady Productions (2014) Anointedpraise2011@yahoo.com The ensemble from Jacksonville, Florida, that gave us the flowing, dramatic “I Believe” offers “It’s Our Time,” a tough-talking staccato declaration of war on the devil. “He don’t fight fair, but we ain’t scared,” the group sings, like prayer warriors clad in armor suits preparing for battle. “We’re taking over, ‘cause it’s our time.”  The single is one more example of how Dr. Vera Goodman & Anointed Praise deserves a closer look by major labels and gospel radio PDs. Incidentally, “I Believe” is now available as ...

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Various Artists – The Best of Revelation Records: 1959-1962

Various Artists The Best of Revelation Records: 1959-1962 Narro Way Records (released September 16, 2014) www.cityhallrecords.com www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Mention the name Bobby Robinson to popular music historians, and you will hear how he founded a number of New York-based record labels, including Whirling Disc, Fury, Enjoy, and Red Robin, and released classic hits for Wilbert Harrison (“Kansas City”) and Gladys Knight and the Pips (“Every Beat of My Heart”). He even allegedly advised a young vocal harmony group called the 5 Satins on how to approach a record company with a song they had called “In the Still ...

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