Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: October 28, 2019

“I’ve Decided to Make Jesus My Choice” Marcel McManus Sr. Independent (release date: September 4, 2018) By Bob Marovich Sometimes you just need to hear gospel done the old fashioned way, like they used to do in church: solo voice and piano. A young man with an old soul, Marcel McManus Sr. accompanies himself on piano on a cover of Harrison Johnson’s testimonial, “I’ve Decided to Make Jesus My Choice.” The singer takes what was originally arranged for choir and turns it into a solo spotlight, offering up a host of vocal flowers and frills while staying true to the ...

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Joseph Price & the Prince of Peace Choir – Do You Know

Pastor Willie E. Kirkpatrick Presents Joseph Price & the Prince of Peace Choir Do You Know Prince of Peace (release date: August 2, 2019) www.princeofpeacechurchstl.com By Bob Marovich Though Prince of Peace Baptist Church in Berkeley, Missouri, has served the St. Louis area for nearly a century, its choir just cut its debut full-length recording last October. It’s not that the church’s music ministry hasn’t made a record before; I know of at least one single that its Choral Club released on the Serenity label years ago. This is, however, the first full-length recording by the current iteration of Prince ...

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“Praying and Believing” – Erica Campbell

“Praying and Believing” Erica Campbell My Block Records (release date: August 25, 2019) By Bob Marovich On this quintessential “coming to Jesus” song, Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell recognizes that the problems and complications she’s experiencing (first verse) and society is facing (second verse) are ours to accept but not to fix. Rather than blaming God for all the troubles, Erica prays to God for healing and strength—for herself and everyone, including “the mother praying for her child to come home.” The arrangement, featuring dramatic percussion and an imploring choir, gives Erica plenty of room to improvise. By the end, she ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 21, 2019

“All In His Plan” PJ Morton feat. Le’Andria Johnson and Mary Mary Morton Inspiration/Tyscot (release date: September 20, 2019) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich “All In His Plan” addresses the issue we all grapple with: why do bad or hurtful things happen to us when God has the power to wipe it all away? The song’s conclusion: it’s “all in His plan.” There is a reason for everything—we just can’t see it yet. As maddening as it feels sometimes, we have to put our trust in God “because He already worked it out, in the end.” PJ Morton gives the ballad ...

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Kirk Whalum – Humanite’

Kirk Whalum Humanite’ Mack Avenue Music Group (release date: October 11, 2019) www.mackavenue.com By Bob Marovich If music is a universal language, the jazz idiom seems particularly equipped to express the essence of every culture. In doing so, it has the power to unify the world. I suspect saxophonist Kirk Whalum would agree. His latest release, Humanite’, is a love poem to world harmony. While not overtly religious, the album contains themes like freedom, love, hope, and optimism that resonate throughout various religions. But rather than lean on a higher power to solve every problem, Humanite’ suggests that it is ...

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Put the Whole Armour On: Female Black Gospel – The 1940s and 1950s

Various Artists Put the Whole Armour On: Female Black Gospel – The 1940s-1950s NarroWay (release date: October 18, 2019) www.gospelfriend.se By Bob Marovich (as originally featured in Living Blues) “If it wasn’t for the women, you wouldn’t have church.” This quote, which accompanies a vintage photograph of three African American women lifting their hands heavenward, is not only featured prominently in Put the Whole Armour On, a two-CD tribute to 1940s and 1950s female gospel artists, but it serves as an apt prelude to the collection. That is, notwithstanding the prominence of women in African American churches, most denominations did ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 14, 2019

“He Loves Me” Yael Hilton Light Records / eOne Music (release date: August 30, 2019) By Bob Marovich Light Records was very fortunate to sign Yael Hilton, one of the most talented female vocalists to emerge from today’s galaxy of independent gospel artists. Her newest single, “God Can,” released in September, is a singing tour de force, but it’s “He Loves Me” that has the greatest radio potential. To a brassy and infectious Motown swagger, Hilton dominates the vocal line like a seasoned soloist. She weaves blue notes and Le’Andria-like raves on this feel-good song that sounds at first blush ...

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Beverly Heath – Jesus Boulevard

Beverly Heath Jesus Boulevard BaCE Music (release date: July 8, 2018) www.beverlyheath.com By Bob Marovich The title track of singer-songwriter Beverly Heath’s CD, Jesus Boulevard, sounds like a road the Dixie Hummingbirds could take their “Christian’s Automobile” for a spin. There are blessings awaiting the believer on “Jesus Boulevard,” the Atlanta-based Heath sings. And along the way, one can make passage on “Righteous Way” and “Miracle Road.” All these roads lead to peace of mind. No pun intended, but Heath’s style is what you could call middle-of-the-road (MOR) gospel. It is neither sanctified nor atmospheric. MOR is, in fact, where ...

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“Revelation” – Keith Reed Jr.

“Revelation” Keith Reed Jr. (release date: August 28, 2019) www.newsoundmusicgroup.org By Bob Marovich Supported by his group, the New Sound of Worship, Keith Reed Jr. asks God in “Revelation” to reveal His life-giving light during an especially dark moment. But despite the stressful circumstances that inspired the song, including Reed finding himself out of work and almost homeless, “Revelation” is surprisingly unruffled and even-tempered. The smooth jazz arrangement, conventional melody, and easygoing vocals smooth over the drama. The Columbus, Ohio, native currently serves as minister of music for Destiny Church International under the pastorate of Apostle Theodore Caesar. “Revelation” was ...

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Harlem Gospel Travelers – He’s On Time

Harlem Gospel Travelers He’s On Time Colemine Records (release date: October 11, 2019) www.coleminerecords.com By Bob Marovich If He’s On Time included audible pops and scratches, one would think the Harlem Gospel Travelers’ debut album was a reissue of a forty-five-year-old vinyl LP discovered while crate digging. Even its Harvey Williams-inspired cover, created by artist Matt Chinworth, hearkens back to a different generation. Instead, He’s On Time is as current as right now. It’s the product of a group of young men, ages 18 to 21, who come from throughout the New York metropolitan area to Harlem to train under ...

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