Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: July 16, 2018

“Holy Ghost” Frozene Lott Hayes LotHay Music (2018) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich You can be certain that a song titled “Holy Ghost” is going to be a church burner, and Frozene Hayes delivers on this promise. Supported by a chugging band and a choir of BGVs, Hayes sings about the exhilaration of salvation like a veteran church soloist. She has that deliciously raspy alto voice that can make “Happy Birthday to You” sound sanctified. She sang a live version of “Holy Ghost” at last month’s Rhythm of Gospel Awards, where it was named Traditional Song of the Year. It brought ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 2, 2018

“Chainbreaker” Angela “Missy” Billups E’Mazin Entertainment (release date: May 15, 2018) Available digitally By Bob Marovich New York-based singer Angela “Missy” Billups is known for both traditional church wreckers and rhythmic praise ballads. Her latest single, “Chainbreaker,” is right in the middle in terms of tempo, while the lyrics are consistent with the message she has sung at a variety of speeds: that God can release us from the physical and emotional chains that bind us. But you gotta believe. “Chainbreaker,” which Billups sang to an appreciative audience at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards ceremony last month, was produced by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 25, 2018

“Enter His Gates” Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music From the New Day Distribution CD By Faith www.plundymom.com By Bob Marovich Minister Patrick Lundy’s musical instruction in the gospel and classical worlds are in evidence on the robust church rouser “Enter His Gates.” Taking its text from Psalm 100:4, the song features full production, a solid backbeat, and stirring singing that evokes Ricky Dillard’s work. The song belongs as much to the choir as to the single’s fiery lead singers, Beverly Reynolds and Jacqulyn Sanders. The album version transitions into a praise break—‘nuff said! The Georgia-born director and songwriter Lundy honed ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 18, 2018

“Are You Ready” Jason Champion My Block Records (release date: October 27, 2017) By Bob Marovich To a mid-tempo boogie-woogie rhythm, gospel singer Jason Champion asks the ultimate salvation question: are you ready for Jesus when He comes? He then lets loose with a couple of Sam Cooke yodels and declares he’s ready – in fact, he already has his bags packed. Now that’s ready. The song’s loose and engaging doo-wop drive is given Technicolor treatment in Derek Banks’ video, which depicts Champion dressed in retro clothes, driving a retro car, and playing a retro upright piano at an old farmhouse in ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 11, 2018

“If God” Casey J From the forthcoming Tyscot album The Gathering (single release date: June 25, 2018) www.tyscot.com Bob Marovich As a schoolteacher, Casey J has had to ask lots of hard questions. So it’s not surprising that on her new single, “If God,” she wonders aloud why there is still cancer, still violence, and “so much disease.” More questions than answers, certainly, but she and her background vocalists find solace in the question posed in Romans 8:31: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Seemingly based on an old hymn melody, the song riffs on the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 29, 2018

“Prayer Changes Things” Adriann Lewis-Freeman D.A.F. Entertainment Group (release date: May 12, 2017) By Bob Marovich The former lead singer of the female gospel group RiZen takes us to church with her solo debut, “Prayer Changes Things.” Produced by her brother, Ay’Ron Lewis, and supported by effervescent background singers and musicians, the song finds Adriann Lewis-Freeman getting downright evangelistic as she advises listeners to “turn it over to the Lord” because “He will work it out and come through for you.” Lewis-Freeman sings from experience, having dealt with a cervical cancer diagnosis, the challenges of single motherhood, and having a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 21, 2018

“Keys to the Kingdom” Min. David Whitfield & Whitfield Productions, feat. Lena Starks Choirboi Records (release date: March 16, 2018) By Bob Marovich On this church rouser, Angelique “Lena” Starks, a sparkplug of a lead vocalist, breaks it down: you don’t have to be rich, or a doctor or lawyer, or even a warrior, to make it to Heaven. Just “be holy, be righteous,” she sings. Known to enjoy singing to a quick tempo, Starks gets downright evangelistic on the vamp as the choir supports her with lyric responses and handclaps. Min. David Whitfield & Whitfield Productions carries on the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 14, 2018

“I’m Determined” Bemeche’ BGMN Records (release date: April 9, 2018) www.bemeche.com By Bob Marovich This Virginia-based artist teams up with a top-shelf choir and musicians who together sound as if they came straight outta Chicago’s Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer on “I’m Determined.” A churchy up-tempo workout with jaunty piano work complements Bemeche’s conviction to run on to see what the end will be. He engages the choir in antiphonal singing and sets up a special section where sopranos, altos, and tenors layer their harmonies onto the main melody one at a time. Then the musicians drop out for a straight-up vamp. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 8, 2018

“Blessing Me” Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir From the City of Peace CD Sure. Focused. Centered (2017) By Bob Marovich Despite the jaunty piano intro and thunderous singing of the NextGeneration Choir, “Blessing Me” belongs to its fiery lead vocalist, Meaghan Williams-McNeal. Her feisty shouts and squalls lead the group on this churchy offering of thanksgiving for blessings bestowed. It is one of those songs that seems to anticipate a praise break.  Not surprisingly, Williams-McNeal is pursuing a solo career. Dr. F. James Clark and the NextGeneration Choir hail from the Shalom Church (City of Peace) of Florissant, Missouri. Their debut album, 2015’s Simply Amazing, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 9, 2018

“Believe” Ese-Osa April Sound https://www.facebook.com/eseosamusic/ By Bob Marovich The gospel artist formerly known as Liosa offers “Believe,” a lovely ballad of personal encouragement sung as part prayer and part soaring affirmation. To a lilting piano, Ese-Osa’s beguiling alto delivers her hopeful message with dead-on conviction and apexes with a range-extending shout. Ese-Osa, christened Osasuyi Deborah Esosa, hails from Edo State in southern Nigeria. After joining the Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical Students choir, she helped the troupe record its first album by writing most of the selections. By 2008, she launched her solo career and since then has garnered two South-South ...

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