Reviews

TBGB Pick of the Week: June 23, 2014

“Hello Sunshine” Kyla Jade (released May 23, 2014) www.kylasings.com For her debut solo single, Kyla Jade, lead vocalist for Dr. Bobby Jones’ Nashville Super Choir, revisits “Hello Sunshine,” the late 1960s hit for the choirs of Jessy Dixon and Rev. Maceo Woods.     It’s an excellent choice for Kyla’s friendly, expansive soprano.  She rides the melody like a surfer on a wave, navigating its ebbs and flows through to the denouement. Some gospel purists may grimace at the bouncy contemporary arrangement, but keep in mind how modern “Hello Sunshine” was when it came out more than 40 years ago.  Nevertheless, ...

Read More »

Elain Thomas – Songs in the Key of Jazz

Elain Thomas Songs in the Key of Jazz (2013) www.reverbnation.com/elainthomas By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Despite the well-worn argument about “devil’s music” vs. “God’s music,” gospel and jazz and blues—and now rock, soul, R&B and pop—are intertwined, fruits from the same musical tree.  Elain Thomas’ self-produced Songs in the Key of Jazz employs a smooth jazz patina, and a dab of small combo intimacy, to express inspirational messages through this popular medium. Thomas’s vocals are breezy, light, relaxed.  Sometimes she likes to leap around the stave, hitting notes with staccato force like a hammer to a xylophone, as ...

Read More »

“I’m More Than a Conqueror” – Ajaay Swindell & Company

“I’m More Than a Conqueror” Ajaay Swindell & Company www.ajaayswindell.com As much affirmation as prayer, “I’m More Than a Conqueror” is a hard-hitting, rock-fueled contemporary gospel that encourages the listener to remain steadfast in belief.  It is performed in the style of James Fortune & FIYA, with lead vocalist Ajaay Swindell interjecting spoken declarations as the six-member vocal ensemble maintains the melody.  Ajaay Swindell hails from the same family that produced the famous Swindell Brothers, a popular gospel quartet and recording artists of the 1950s and 1960s.

Read More »

Shirlene Jackson – Wow

Shirlene Jackson Wow CRNI (2011) Available at CD Baby By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Wow is a self-produced five-track EP by Shirlene Jackson of New Edinburg, Arkansas.  A capable gospel singer who proved her merit in 2005 by winning the Gospel Talent Showcase in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Jackson’s calling card is lofting soprano notes over the musical fence when the spirit moves her.  More than any other track on the EP, her debut solo project, Jackson shows what she can do on “I Found Jesus.”  Written by Darrell McFadden of Disciples fame, “I Found Jesus” has the ...

Read More »

TBGB Pick of the Week: June 16, 2014

Anointed By God “I Give You My All” One Voice Media (released March 18, 2014) Available on Amazon and iTunes Fabulous gospel vocalist LeJuene Thompson leads this lovely ballad of unbridled discipleship.  Anointed by God added Sharonda Walker-Mitchell, Carla Barnes, and Cachet Morganfield to make the background more sweetly treble-focused, and it works.  This West Memphis, Arkansas, teen group won a 2013 Stellar Award for Children Project of the Year, and is nominated for two Rhythm of Gospel Awards.  Not bad for a group formed only four years ago!

Read More »

Ricky Dillard & New G – Amazing

Ricky Dillard & New G Amazing Light Records/eOne Entertainment  (release date: June 10, 2014) www.rickydillard.net By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Ricky Dillard was once the young turk on the gospel block.     Beginning in the late 1980s, Dillard and the New Generation Chorale, a Chicago gospel choir steeped in the full-throated tradition of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, Rev. James Cleveland, and Dr. Charles G. Hayes, offered up high-octane songs such as “More Abundantly” that other choirs were quick to emulate. Twenty-six years later, Dillard is a member of a circle of venerable choir directors that includes Pastor ...

Read More »

Christon Gray – School of Roses

Christon Gray School of Roses Collision Records (release date: March 25, 2014) www.collision-records.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Christon Gray’s School of Roses may be the most unusual, and the most cerebral, inspirational project you have ever heard. It’s less gospel in its typical structure and more a personal testimony, an album of high hip hop drama clearly designed to be listened to start to finish, rather than as interchangeable singles or selections. The music and lyrics are moody and introspective. An aura of deep regret and an unending desire for redemption permeates every note. The struggle ...

Read More »

‘Wanna Be Close” – J Kingdom

“Wanna Be Close” J Kingdom www.jkingdom.com In 2009, Pastor Michael J. Fisher (aka J Kingdom) led Compton, California’s Voices of Destiny choir to the Verizon How Sweet the Sound competition, where the group took top honors as “the best church choir in America.” J Kingdom puts as much of a non-traditional spin on his solo work as he does on his choral duties. Fueled by a galloping rhythm and embraced by EDM, his new solo single, “Wanna Be Close,” is about a desire to be part of God, who makes all things possible.  The arrangement plugs the high voltage intensity ...

Read More »

Pastor David Wright & the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir – Next Generation

Pastor David Wright & the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir Next Generation Godfather Records (released February 2014) godfatherrecordsinc@gmail.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Recorded live at Brooklyn’s historic First Church of God in Christ, Pastor David Wright and the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir’s Next Generation does more to preserve the legacy of Bishop Timothy Wright than any of their music projects to date. Several songs on the album are in fact Timothy Wright compositions.  One of the most popular, “Jesus Jesus Jesus,” closes out the CD.  “Come Thou Almighty King,” “Presence of the Lord,” and “Who’s On the ...

Read More »

Minister Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny – I’m Still Here

Minister Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny I’m Still Here (released November, 2013) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Minister Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny of Blytheville, Arkansas, are young men with old souls.  This is evident by the traditional bent of the quartet’s new self-produced CD, I’m Still Here. Rogers is the quintessential quartet lead.  He sings, shouts, growls, moans, ad libs, testifies, and preaches.  The Men of Destiny—Jeremy Myles, Torey Leonard, and Shannon Lyons—do the high harmonies made popular by the Violinaires in the 1950’s and that continue to dominate gospel quartet today (the bass guitar ...

Read More »