Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: November 23, 2020

“Dr. Jesus” The Swanee Quintet From the Ruffboyzmusic Group LLC / Overboard Records CD Made in Augusta: Live at the Bell Auditorium (release date: June 20, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich “Dr. Jesus” is a Swanee Quintet perennial, a song they cannot eliminate from their repertory no matter how many years they are on the road or how many radio singles they accumulate. Nor should they: it’s a surefire way to lift congregations from their seats and start them to clapping and waving their hands. The Augusta, Georgia, quartet’s most recent recording of “Dr. Jesus” comes from a live disc ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: November 16, 2020

“Lord Give Me Another Chance” Apostle John E. Ross feat. Sean Scales & Tamara Lloyd Independent (preorder release date: November 13, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich A vocal duo of Sean Scales and Tamara Lloyd delivers a single so churchy that it all but stands up and testifies. A passionate plea for forgiveness, “Lord Give Me Another Chance,” written and arranged by Apostle John E. Ross, is fueled by the traditional gospel blues base and the 12/8 time signature that some elders call the “rocking chair” rhythm. Lead singer Scales offers fine singing at all ranges, from stave-topping falsetto flights ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: November 9, 2020

“9 Makes Us 1” Legacy Five & the Wardlaw Brothers Daywind Records (release date: October 16, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Sung by a combination of two quartets, one representing southern gospel and the other gospel music, the smooth ballad “9 Makes Us 1” underscores the significance and necessity of racial amity. The nine singers meet in the musical middle, blending the best of their respective styles into one meaty mélange that evokes a 1990s pop ballad. Despite music marketing categories based on race, white and black quartets have historically emulated one another. Groups like the Jordanaires and Blackwood Brothers ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: November 2, 2020

“Hallelujah Anyhow” Canton Spirituals feat. Al Green Malaco Music Group www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Highway 51 links Canton, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee. So does the single “Hallelujah Anyhow,” as it links the Canton Spirituals and the Reverend Al Green. The combo works. Keep in mind that Green came from gospel and, after entering the ministry, went back to gospel, earning GRAMMY Awards for his gospel albums. A conventional quartet song written by the Canton Spirituals’ Harvey Watkins Jr. and producer Stan Jones, “Hallelujah Anyhow” finds Watkins and Green, elder statesmen of church and church music, sharing nonspecific testimonies about illness ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: October 26, 2020

“Never Give Up” Tasha Cobbs Leonard From the Motown Gospel CD Royalty: Live at the Ryman www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Although the gospel-meets-country selections on Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s new album, Royalty: Live at the Ryman, are the most fascinating, none of them surpasses the beautiful ballad, “Never Give Up.” Leonard moves from poignant to passionate, from vulnerable to victorious, as she relates how she had her doubts with “the walls closing in” and  while “so many others gave up on me,” but “you waited for me with your arms wide open.” “Never Give Up” offers some of Leonard’s most expansive singing ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: October 19, 2020

“One More Time” Cynthia Adams Sound of Chayil (release date: June 19, 2020) By Bob Marovich From the countrified guitar intro and the hand clapping rhythm to the spirited vamp, Cynthia Adams’ “One More Time” takes listeners to church, and not just any church, but the little wooden church on the hill. Adams rejoices about the simple things, like being given another day of life to “be in the service.” She takes nothing for granted, singing and occasionally squalling as the background vocalists answer her like a congregation. Produced by Willie Thomas and Ron Rawls, “One More Time” is the ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: October 13, 2020

“Your Love Is” People of the Earth WeArePOTE Records (release date: September 18, 2020) www.wearepote.com By Bob Marovich The pop-flavored “Your Love Is” draws on metaphors from nature to describe the beauty and the promises of the Lord. The five-piece ensemble People of the Earth demonstrates its eclectic musical inspirations in abundance, as the song could easily air on American Top 40 and nobody would bat an eye. The music and melody are as sunny and optimistic as the message. If ever there was a Christian song that could also be categorized as a summer anthem, it’s “Your Love Is.” ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: October 6, 2020

“Testimony” Young Men 4 Christ From the EP Elevation (release date: September 11, 2020) www.youngmen4christ.com By Bob Marovich On “Testimony,” Detroit’s Young Men 4 Christ blend the fervor of traditional gospel quartet singing with hard-driving contemporary musicianship. The lead vocalist assembles familiar couplets and references from the Bible to hint at a story behind the testimony. You never hear exactly what happened to make the singers so joyful (sickness? near-death experience?), but their gratitude is unambiguous, from the verses through the compulsory vamp. A favorite line: “You better turn your radio up tonight.” Just like the preachers used to say.

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: September 28, 2020

“Wade in the Water” Miss Freddye MMM Records www.missfreddye.com By Bob Marovich Many know Pittsburgh’s Freddye Stover, aka Miss Freddye, as an award-winning blues singer. Her musical roots, however, run deep in the church. Miss Freddye pays tribute to her sacred foundation by releasing “Wade in the Water” as her latest single. She combines her church and blues training into a righteous reading of the folk spiritual. Assisting are vocalist Kim Parent and a musical backdrop that includes a suitably-warbling organ. You can see in your mind’s eye the Leslie speaker’s innards spinning. Produced by Mike Morgan and arranged by ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: September 21, 2020

“I Can’t Give Up” Byron Cage From the AIR / Malaco Music Group CD Isolation www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich It turns out the title of multiple Stellar Awardee Byron Cage’s September 2019 album, Isolation, was prophetic. But on “I Can’t Give Up,” the album’s latest single release, Cage and his background vocalists declare that their present circumstances don’t define them. “I’m built to win,” Cage enthuses, singing on his own behalf as well as on behalf of the listeners. The troupe sets pulpit-honed wisdom such as “I’ve come too far” and “no weapon formed against me shall proper” to an ...

Read More »