Reviews

Marilynn Dunn – God Will

Marilynn Dunn God Will Dunn’s Ministries (2014) www.Marilynndunnministries.com By Bob Marovich Singing in choirs since age eight, Marilynn Dunn of St. Louis released her third CD, God Will. It is a collection of personally-penned and personally-arranged compositions as well as covers of familiar gospel and CCM tunes. Dunn’s forte is traditional singing and specifically church selections that are to gospel singers what coloratura arias are to opera sopranos. To wit, Dunn includes two signature favorites among gospel soloists: Dottie Rambo’s “We Shall Behold Him” and Rev. Paul Jones’ “I Won’t Complain.” “I Press” is a bluesy neo-traditional song about one’s ...

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“Take It Easy” – The Soul Messengerz

“Take It Easy” The Soul Messengerz From the 4 Winds Records CD Only The Strong Survive—Live (2014) www.malaco.com Pastor D. B. Coley of the Soul Messengerz tenderly introduces this quartet piece about taking it down a few notches and putting life’s stresses and worries in God’s hands. The soft soul harmonies, major seventh chords, and delicate musicianship wash over the listeners like a spiritual bubble bath. Organized in 2008, the Soul Messengerz of Washington, DC, has as its core members, Pastor Coley, Justin N. Young, Johnny Matthews, Minister Charles A. Young, James Vines, and Gregory Parrish. Their album, Only the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 22, 2014

“Made It Through the Storm” Pastor David Wright & the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir From the Godfather Records album Next Generation Working as both metaphor and a literal celebration of surviving Hurricane Sandy, Pastor David Wright and the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir sing “Made It Through the Storm,” a testament to how they made it through the storm and flood. “This ain’t New Orleans, but we made it through a hurricane, too,” shouts Pastor Wright, as the holy horns of the Seal Breakers, a shout band with roots in the United House of Prayer for All People, give the proceedings ...

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David Daughtry – David Daughtry

David Daughtry Self-Titled Karew Records/eOne Entertainment www.karewrecords.com By Bob Marovich It is fascinating how gospel music, a genre where the signature sound is brisk and exuberant, can be most beautiful when sung slowly and melodically. David Daughtry includes both the rapid and the measured on his impressive self-titled debut project. Although Daughtry delivers several fine uptempo selections on the album, the worshipful ballads “You Are” and the hypnotic “I Call Your Name” demonstrate his dexterous, earnest tenor. He launches falsetto notes well into the upper register and gets as high as Philippe Wynne (Spinners) on a cover of the Winans’ question-and-answer ...

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“My Inspiration” – Angela “Missy” Billups

“My Inspiration” Angela “Missy” Billups E’Mazin Entertainment/Missy B. Music (2014) Best known for her churchy traditional songs, Angela “Missy” Billups, accompanied by a background vocal group, delivers a contemporary worship song to express gratitude to God for graces bestowed. She drops a couple of lines of verse from “Total Praise” in the vamp, then concludes, “When I thought was going to lose my mind / God, you stepped in the nick of time.” The song is good and shows that Missy is exploring new territory for her singles, but I much prefer Missy’s traditional side.

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Tammy Smith – Instrument of Praise

Tammy Smith Instrument of Praise www.tammysmithgospel.com By Bob Marovich Instrument of Praise by Chicago’s Tammy Smith sandwiches slices of traditional singing between healthy helpings of contemporary gospel with a smooth jazz patina. Nowhere is this combination more apparent than on the two part “The Blood.” Smith begins by offering Andrae Crouch’s classic “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” in a traditional vein, consistent with the original, then switches to a modern interpretation on the second part. As a singer, Smith possesses a light soprano that becomes even more delicate on the top notes. Her style suits the album’s majority ...

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Sallie and Cora Martin – Just A Little Talk With Jesus

Sallie and Cora Martin Just A Little Talk with Jesus Gospel Friend (release date: September 16, 2014) www.cityhallrecords.com By Bob Marovich Sallie Martin, the Mother of Gospel Music, paved the way for those who paved the way. A no-nonsense singer, group leader, choir director, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Martin helped Thomas A. Dorsey sell his catalog of songs before going into business with Kenneth Morris in 1940 to form the Martin & Morris Music Studio. It is in 1940, when Sallie was a member of the Martin & Morris Singers, where Just A Little Talk With Jesus, Gospel Friend’s superb twelve-year ...

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The Journal’s Pick of the Week: September 15, 2014

“The Blood Medley” Kathy Taylor From the forthcoming CD Spirit of a Grateful People www.kathytaylorlive.com A medley of blood songs and the multi-hued voice of Kathy Taylor go together like bacon and eggs. Taylor sings the notes off the staff on this slow burner, which demonstrates the singer’s vibrant interplay with the live audience. She croons, shouts, and squalls to accompaniment that includes a warmly warbling B3 and drum crashes like lightning strikes. Taylor’s interpolation of Andrae Crouch’s “The Blood Will Never Lose It’s Power” is a preaching moment. The medley could have gone on even longer. Kathy Taylor currently ...

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Kevin LeVar and One Sound – Destiny-Live at the Dream Center…and More

Kevin LeVar and One Sound Destiny—Live at the Dream Center…and More OneSound Entertainment LLC (August, 2014) www.kevinlevar.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Kevin LeVar is among the new generation of male gospel crooners that includes Earnest Pugh, Micah Stampley, Keith Williams, and Brian Courtney Wilson. He also knows how to craft a memorable melody, as demonstrated by his singles, “A Heart That Forgives,” “We’re Only Getting Started,” and “You Are Not Alone.” Ballads have been, and continue to be, LeVar’s sweet spot, and he adds two more to his oeuvre on Destiny—Live at the Dream Center…and More. The songs, “Your Destiny” ...

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“Just For Me” – Monica Lisa Stevenson

“Just For Me” Monica Lisa Stevenson Puretonez Productions (2014) www.monicazmuzik.com With Kenneth Mosley’s “Just For Me,” neo-traditional singer Monica Lisa Stevenson delivers a gospel blues that not only extols Jesus’ sacrifice for His people, but provides a song suitable for the coming Christmas season. The organ chirps and horns blast as MLS declares, “He was born to die so that I may live” and “God chose a virgin to birth out his plan / To restore relationship to every sinful man.” During what blues people might call the “low down” portion but gospel folks call the “vamp,” MLS shouts and ...

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