Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: February 2, 2015

“He Steps In” Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Mass Choir From the CD Oh To Be Kept By Jesus (Anniversary Edition) If you like gospel choir singing like it was done in the 1980s, you will love the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Mass Choir’s new single, “He Steps In.” This Houston church, where Dr. Marcus Cosby is pastor and the late Hanq Neal was music minister, channels the super-charged, hand-clapping effervescence of classic late twentieth-century gospel choruses such as the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church Choir, the Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir, Christian Tabernacle Concert Choir, Keith Pringle’s ensembles, and a whole handful ...

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Katherine Burton – The Lord is On My Side

Katherine Burton The Lord is On My Side New Dawn Music (2014) www.KatherineBurton.com By Bob Marovich The violin has had a dalliance with gospel music throughout the genre’s history, although more so as of late, due to the cross-pollination of musical styles in the inspirational/gospel category. Brooke “Viosocalist” Alford and Kersten Stevens are two musicians who have recorded gospel jazz projects recently with violin as the main instrument. Katherine Burton is another. A graduate of Temple University College of Music and instrumentalist at a variety of gospel conventions, including the Gospel Workshop of America, Burton rosins up the bow to ...

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L. Spenser Smith – Unstoppable

L. Spenser Smith Unstoppable Smithworx/eOne (2014) www.lspensersmith.com By Bob Marovich Recorded live on September 21, 2012, to an aurally appreciative audience at Northview Christian Church in Montgomery, Alabama, Unstoppable is singer-songwriter Bishop L. Spenser Smith’s debut as a solo artist.  It’s a strong debut, too. Smith is among the new generation of gospel male crooners, a group that includes Earnest Pugh, Brian Courtney Wilson, Micah Stampley, Keith Williams, and Jonathan Nelson. His tenor is as flexible as a gymnast.  Given such vocal elasticity, it is no surprise that the ballads and hymns on Unstoppable best showcase Smith’s skills. His falsetto flights, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 26, 2015

“Storms” Donald Malloy From LIVE. . .Finally Home www.donaldmalloyministries.com Recorded live a couple of years ago in Donald Malloy’s hometown of Cheraw, South Carolina, “Storms” leads the audience down the “don’t be discouraged” path about the storms of life. Just when you anticipate that Malloy will follow with, “but God will see you through,” he sings instead about the internal strength and character that storms bring to our lives. Now released as a single, “Storms” is a fine contemporary gospel performance that Malloy builds in dynamic intensity from husky, handsome crooning to preacher-like hard singing.

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Soul Stirrers – Joy in My Soul: The Complete SAR Recordings

Soul Stirrers Joy in My Soul: The Complete SAR Recordings ABKCO Records (release date: January 27, 2015 www.abkco.com By Bob Marovich The first ABKCO compilation of Soul Stirrers recordings on the legendary SAR Records was released more than a decade ago. With sixteen tracks, the Stirrers had the lion’s share of sides on the gospel portion of that two-CD set, but that was all; the rest of the set needed to feature other SAR artists. Gospel quartet enthusiasts as well as Soul Stirrers fans will therefore appreciate Joy In My Soul because it is all Soul Stirrers. And of the 33 selections ...

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Reflections – Ryan D. Rutley, B.A.

Ryan D. Rutley, B.A. Reflections Psalms Group (2014) www.cdbaby.com/Artist/RyanDRutleyBA By Bob Marovich Ryan Rutley’s Reflections is an album of mostly instrumental smooth jazz, or call it inspirational jazz, if you prefer. Rutley’s band consists of Charles “Chuck” Clark on drums, brother Darick on bass, Darryl Bebee on saxophone, and Levi Baker also on drums. Ryan Rutley wrote the compositions, lends lead vocals on “Forgiven,” and produced the album. Brother Darick’s handsome vocal and Bebee’s effervescent sax solo on “Your Grace is Amazing” make the selection the high point of the album. The song riffs on the lyric of “Amazing Grace,” ...

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Noreen Crayton – Divine Radiance

Noreen Crayton Divine Radiance Angel Star Music (release date: January 2015) www.noreencrayton.com By Bob Marovich Divine Radiance is the third sacred music album from New York-native Noreen Crayton. While her career includes significant musical stage work in the U.S. and overseas, Crayton has gospel roots and sings with the praise and worship team at Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem. Crayton nearly plays all the bases on Divine Radiance—from writer and arranger to performer and executive producer. She does employ a handful of musicians to assist her on some tracks. Musically, the album offers a sample of everything from an ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 19, 2015

“You Are” Virtue www.virtuegirls3.com Who said America has lost its Virtue? Nearly a decade has lapsed since their last release, but the Dove Award-winning and Grammy-nominated sister ensemble Virtue has returned with a new single, “You Are.” Set in the same rich urban AC groove that marked the group’s prior work, albeit updated to meet contemporary tastes, “You Are” is a dramatic declaration of fidelity to God, “the alpha and omega” who promises light at the end of life’s dark tunnels. The 2015 iteration of Virtue that recorded “You Are” is Ebony Holland, Karima Kibble, and Heather Martin. The women sound ...

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BMI Honors Houghton, Pace Sisters, at 16th Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards

ATLANTA, January 18, 2015 – Broadcast Music, Inc.® (BMI®), the global leader in music rights management, brought legends and contemporary stars together to celebrate the careers of gospel giants Israel Houghton, LaShun Pace and The Anointed Pace Sisters at its 16th annual Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards yesterday in Atlanta. The event, held at the Rialto Center for the Arts, also recognized BMI’s Most-Performed Gospel Song of the Year: “The Gift,” written and performed by Donald Lawrence. The song, featured on Lawrence’s album Best For Last, topped the Billboard Gospel Airplay chart and achieved wide-spread success. BMI also recognized five ...

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Reverend Charlie Jackson – Lord You’re So Good

Reverend Charlie Jackson Lord You’re So Good: Live Recordings, Vol. 2 Fifty Miles of Elbow Room #6 www.50milesofelbowroom.com By Bob Marovich In 2003, Kevin Nutt’s CaseQuarter label issued the first comprehensive collection of vintage recordings by the guitar-toting Louisianan preacher Reverend Charlie Jackson. The CD compilation of impossibly rare 45 rpm singles produced by Robert Booker or Jackson himself showcased the fiery preacher, very possibly the last of his breed, lofting trebly licks and chugging away on his Fender Mustang. Most of us figured that was the first and last word on Rev. Jackson, who passed away in 2006. Not so. ...

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