Reviews

Damien Sneed feat. the Levites – Broken to Minister: The Deluxe Edition

Damien Sneed Featuring the Levites Broken To Minister: The Deluxe Edition LeChateau Earl Records (release date: March 3, 2015) www.lechateauearl.com By Bob Marovich Recorded live in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2013, Broken To Minister: The Deluxe Edition builds on Damien Sneed and the Levites’ previously released Broken To Minister EP. The classically- and church-trained Sneed is a member of the orchestral school of gospel music populated by artists such as Richard Smallwood, Donald Lawrence, and the late Thomas Whitfield. In this school, lush, dense vocal harmonies combine with astute songwriting and arranging to present gospel music at its most contemporary while ...

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Jor’Dan Armstrong – 52 Weeks of Summer

Jor’Dan Armstrong 52 Weeks of Summer Power Move Management (release date: March 31, 2015) www.jordanarmstrongmusic.com By Bob Marovich If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is nigh upon you. Jor’Dan Armstrong’s new CD, 52 Weeks of Summer, is an aural siren signaling the warmer, better days ahead, literally and figuratively. Armstrong’s songs are meant to be entertaining, breezy, and spirit-inspired, aimed at a young demographic wanting to pray and play. “With this project, I wanted people to know that you can have fun and still be a Christian,” Armstrong says. “52 Weeks Of Summer is the soundtrack for that.” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 30, 2015

“Forever I Will” Lonnie Hunter feat. Structure From the forthcoming Tyscot CD #GETITDONE www.lonniehuntermusic.com Recently signed to major gospel label Tyscot Music and Entertainment, the Stellar Award-winning singer, choir director, Radio One show host, former male model, Air Force veteran, and native Chicagoan Lonnie Hunter wasted no time getting a new single to market. Written by Davie Moore, “Forever I Will” is the first single release from Hunter’s forthcoming Tyscot album, #GETITDONE. It is a dramatic, radio-friendly contemporary ballad reminiscent of Kirk Franklin’s early work. Hunter serves as minister to Structure’s congregation as they combine praise with supplication.

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Erica Campbell, Ricky Dillard & New G Win Big at 30th Stellars

By Bob Marovich Erica Campbell of Mary Mary and Ricky Dillard & New G needed push carts to carry home their hardware from the 30th annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards, televised in Las Vegas yesterday evening. The Stellar Award is the top honor for artists performing in the African American gospel music tradition. Campbell and her CD Help earned a combined eight Stellars, including Artist of the Year, CD of the Year, Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year, and Contemporary CD of the Year. Dillard & New G represented the choir sound with four Stellars, including Song of the Year (“Amazing”), ...

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Page CXVI – The Church Calendar Series

Page CXVI The Church Calendar Series: – Advent to Christmas – Lent to Maundy Thursday – Good Friday to Easter (new release) www.pagecxvi.com By Bob Marovich I discovered the intriguing music of Page CXVI via an email from Noisetrade about Good Friday to Easter, the trio’s latest and final release in their Church Calendar Series. There they were—husband-and-wife team Reid and Latifah Phillips and Dann Stockton—rendering church hymns with humble melodies and a pop underlay of gently jangling guitars, emotional violin, and contemplative keys.  The group could just as easily direct a meditation service as make a college radio playlist. It turns out ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 23, 2015

“Just For Me” Tim Spady feat. Jeff Murrell Available on iTunes (release date: March 20, 2015) https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/just-for-me-feat.-jeff-murrell/id978825762 The always-melodic songwriter Tim Spady of Philadelphia teams with vocalist Jeff Murrell on the Easter-themed “Just For Me.” Over Spady’s dramatic and semi-classical musicianship, Murrell praises Jesus for paying the price “just for me.” His tear-stained tenor is the ideal medium for this song about the ultimate sacrifice.

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Tay Clemons – Journey to Love

Tay Clemons Journey to Love We Dream Entertainment Group (December 2014) www.tayclemons.com By Bob Marovich No love song written and performed by a woman is nearly as powerful and heartfelt as those she has written to express her affection for Jesus. Proof of this hypothesis can be found among the songs on Shantavia “Tay” Clemons’s debut album Journey to Love. Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Clemons wraps her clear, pop-inflected voice around a stack of love songs to the Most High. She receives ample support in the first few cuts by processed electronic urban AC and solid rap interludes from ...

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Mississippi Mass Choir – Declaration of Dependence

Mississippi Mass Choir Declaration of Dependence Malaco Records (2014) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Halfway through Declaration of Dependence, the Mississippi Mass Choir’s latest album, I realized that the choir has inherited the mantle once worn by the celebrated Thompson Community Singers. Just as music ministers could not wait for the latest Tommies album to discover new songs and arrangements to teach their church choirs, Mississippi Mass Choir albums offer the same opportunity for today’s directors. Miss Mass hits such as “He’ll Carry You,” “God Made Me,” and “When I Rose This Morning” went from CD to choir lofts around the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 16, 2015

“Persona” Corey Barksdale www.coreybarksdalemusic.com “I know this for myself / I don’t have to be like anyone else.” Corey Barksdale drops into a finger-popping acoustic groove to declare that he’s done listening to what other people think he should be. God knew what he was doing when he made me, he sings, and that’s all there is to it. Besides, “everybody fails at being just like somebody else.” This breezy, inspirational selection gives the vocally flexible Barksdale space to run up and down the bass and treble clefs like stair steps.

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“I Know a Man Named Jesus” – Shawn Brown & Da Boyz

“I Know a Man Named Jesus” Shawn Brown & Da Boyz 4 Winds Records (2015) www.malaco.com To a spanking backbeat and driving mid-tempo groove, Shawn Brown & Da Boyz of East St. Louis, Illinois, declare to their live audience that they know a man “who will make a way.” The answer to the rhetorical question is “Jesus,” and Brown and the group hammer home the point by exhorting “Jesus” back and forth during the song’s vamp. Their call-and-response akin to a preacher and his congregation, Shawn Brown & Da Boyz go old school on this neo-traditional composition. The quartet’s live CD, ...

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