Reviews

Pastor Riva Tims Presents Majestic Praise – Access Granted

Pastor Riva Tims Presents Majestic Praise Access Granted Zion Records (2014) www.majesticlifechurch.com By Bob Marovich Florida Pastor Riva Tims introduces to the general public the music ministry at her Majestic Praise Church in Orlando on the ten-selection Access Granted. It is the first CD on her new Zion Records imprint. In the album’s dramatic introduction, Tims explains the title: “When you are on purpose and on assignment, God says ‘access granted.’” The ensemble employs that access to loft vertical praises to God on high. The songs and arrangements on Access Granted are CCM-tempered praise and worship, something on the order of Shekinah Glory Ministry. ...

Read More »

Lecrae – Anomaly

Lecrae Anomaly Reach Records (2014) www.reachrecords.com By Bob Marovich Lecrae’s new CD, Anomaly, is Christian music’s most incisively honest, but at the same time most bravely hopeful, project this year. To Lecrae, being an anomaly, being an outsider, is both an advantage and disadvantage. On one hand, anomalies are outcasts who don’t fit in. At the same time, as Lecrae articulates on the title track, being an outsider is “exactly what God created us to be.” “Why you scared to be different?” he asks on “Say I Won’t.”  Anomalies call it like it is, and Lecrae does just that on ...

Read More »

Gospel Stars Fix More than Music on “Fix My Choir”

“Fix My Choir” With Deitrick Haddon and Michelle Williams Premiere: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 – 10 p.m. ET/PT Oxygen www.oxygen.com By Bob Marovich At last: a reality television program suitable for those of us who avoid reality television. “Fix My Choir” is about struggling church and community choirs who receive mentoring from the program’s stars, gospel singers Deitrick Haddon and Michelle Williams (formerly of Destiny’s Child).  Each episode features Deitrick and Michelle responding to one particular choir’s SOS call. On the premiere episode, which airs this evening, Deitrick and Michelle travel to New Orleans to rescue Josh Kagler and HPC (Harmonistic ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: November 4, 2014

“Greater” Chad Brawley From the forthcoming album The We Worship Experience (Spring 2015) Available from digital music providers A melodic, energetic, and eminently radio-friendly praiser from Houston’s Chad Brawley. He and his background vocalists sing with muscle and conviction about the greatness of God. “Greater” evokes the quintessential urban P&W sound of artists such as VaShawn Mitchell and William McDowell. An experienced music minister, Brawley has worked for The Potter’s House, Heritage Christian Center, and Good Hope Baptist Church in Houston. He is currently Director of Worship Arts at The Luke Church of Humble, TX, cited as one of the fastest ...

Read More »

Donna LiZa – Makin’ the Level

Donna LiZa Makin’ the Level www.facebook.com/officialdonnaliza By Bob Marovich On “He’s Got the Answer,” the concluding cut on her eight-selection solo CD Makin’ the Level, Donna LiZa gives us an autobiographical glimpse of a pivotal moment in her life. Originally from New Orleans, Donna lost everything in Hurricane Katrina and became part of the post-hurricane migration to Texas. She moved to Arlington and began singing with Bishop Greg O’Quin and iPraise. The group’s musically multi-faceted After the Storm (2009), on which Donna led “I Appreciate U,” earned five stars from the Journal of Gospel Music. Bishop O’Quin produced Donna’s solo ...

Read More »

Gregory Brown with the Abundant Life Music Ministry – 29:11

Gregory Brown with the Abundant Life Music Ministry 29:11 The Levite Music Group (2013) www.cdbaby.com/cd/gregorybrown22 By Bob Marovich Released November 3, 2013, 29:11 is the product of Birmingham, Alabama choir Gregory L. Brown and the Abundant Life Music Ministry. The title refers to Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” In alignment with this message, Brown’s objective for the CD is to “speak life and minister wholeness to broken hearts.” While the album meets this objective ...

Read More »

“He Shall Reign” – Bridgett Kern

“He Shall Reign” Bridgett Kern Platinum Image Music Group (2014) www.BridgettKern.com A worship leader, songwriter, and pastor, Bridgett Kern delivers this vertical praiser that combines the feel-good melodicism of CCM with the bracing, energetic punch of rock, and vocals from the modern gospel tradition. The CCM feel is not coincidental: the song was written by Israel Houghton collaborators BJ Putnam and Doug Engquist, and produced by Putnam. Kern leads worship at Radiant Life Church in Phoenix, Arizona. She and her husband, Dr. Joseph Kern, founded the church. The single is from her forthcoming album, No One Greater, scheduled for release in ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: October 28, 2014

“I Need Thee” Beulah Grove Mass Choir feat. Monica Lisa Stevenson Released digitally October 21, 2014 www.beulahgrove.org Beulah Grove Baptist Church of Augusta, Georgia (Dr. Sam Davis, Pastor), celebrates its centennial with a rousing gospel version of the hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour,” rendered with spirit by the always effervescent Monica Lisa Stevenson. The choir and musicians set a praise party atmosphere as MLS ups the trad cred an extra notch by interpolating lyrics from “I Love the Lord, He Heard My Cry.” “I Need Thee” is the single from the church’s Live at the Grove CD.

Read More »

JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise – I See Victory

JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise I See Victory Light Records (October 28, 2014) www.lightrecords.com By Bob Marovich Recorded at the First Cathedral in Bloomfield, Connecticut, I See Victory is the seventh live CD for JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise and, with seventeen tracks, the group’s most ambitious release to date. The choir, perhaps best known for the gospel hit, “Incredible God, Incredible Praise,” can claim musical roots in the ministry of Bishop J. C. White and the Institutional Church of God in Christ Choir. Institutional’s “Stretch Out (When Jesus Comes)” was a major gospel hit in 1967 (read more about the influence ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: October 20, 2014

“Take It to the Lord in Prayer” Patrick Lundy & the Ministers of Music (2014) From the CD Majesty: A Recording of Anthems, Hymns, and Spirituals www.plundymom.com Incorporating the semi-classical flourishes of Richard Smallwood and Donald Lawrence, Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music give Rev. Nolan Williams’ “Take It to the Lord In Prayer” a lush, restorative reading.  The voices rise and fall with the effortlessness of breathing. Though the melody is different, the lyrics pull verses from Joseph Scriven’s nineteenth-century hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Lundy and the MOM proclaim, “Some things we have not ...

Read More »