Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: July 24, 2017

“I Give You Praise” Robert E. Person feat. Richard Smallwood From the forthcoming REP album Classic Covers www.roberteperson.com By Bob Marovich Covering Richard Smallwood’s composition “I Give You Praise” is commendable. Having the maestro himself accompany on piano is inspired. Originally released by Smallwood on his 1989 album Portrait (Word Entertainment), “I Give You Praise” combines the drama of high theater with the passion of high church in offering plaudits to the Most High. Vocalist Robert E. Person’s classical training is in evidence on this version from the quiet opening to the expansive coda. Roderick Giles & Grace, who accompanied Bryan Andrew Wilson ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 17, 2017

“Grace” Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago feat. Le’Andria Johnson Inspired People, LLC (release date: July 7, 2017) Available from digital media outlets By Bob Marovich Pastor Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago’s “Grace” feels like a quicker-tempo version of Kirk Franklin’s “I Smile” with its plinky piano, chirpy melody, finger-popping rhythm, and unison singing. The choir declares that they don’t look like what they’ve been through, and it’s because of God’s favor. God has brought them from a mighty long way. They’re blessed by the best. Then Le’Andria Johnson jumps in and drops a healthy helping of righteous southern soul on ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 11, 2017

“So Good” Bri (Release date: June 9, 2017) Available from digital music outlets By Bob Marovich When on “So Good” Bri (Briana Babineaux) sings “God’s been so good to me,” there are plenty of reasons for her to express that sentiment. In a relatively short period of time, she went from unknown to YouTube sensation to Billboard-charting artist to multiple Stellar Award winner. But here, she focuses instead on the victory God has given her over the metaphorical shackles that once bound her down spiritually. Her newest single is buoyed by a quick-step tempo and BGVs that return every ounce ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 3, 2017

“Grace & Mercy” Tamika Patton feat. Min. Earl Bynum Available on iTunes and other Digital Media www.TamikaPatton.com By Bob Marovich On the independent single, “Grace & Mercy,” Tamika Patton proclaims her gratitude to God for his unconditional love and forgiveness. Such compassion, given “to a wretch like me,” has inspired her to pass it forward. The song’s carefree arrangement and mid-tempo two-step rhythm echo Patton’s exhilaration. She and featured guest vocalist Minister Earl Bynum, who joins halfway through, complement one another well. Their melodic voices, gilded with gospel grit, have a tangy blend, like salt and vinegar, as they go ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 27, 2017

“Fly Away” Shonda English feat. Dorothy Norwood Available at digital music stores www.shondaenglish.com By Bob Marovich It might be intimidating to duet with a legend such as Dorothy Norwood, but to Shonda English, The Storyteller of Gospel is “Aunt Dot.” It was “Aunt Dot,” in fact, who brought Bob Jeffreys and Sanchez Harley’s easy-going, bittersweet “Fly Away” to her attention. Good timing. English was just getting over the loss of her father, Bishop W. T. English, and needed some inspirational cheering up. “Fly Away” fit the bill. Reflecting on the day they will fly away to the resting place where ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 14, 2017

“Alabaster Box” Lillie Nicole McCloud From the album Red Apples (release date: May 27, 2015) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/lillienicolemccloud By Bob Marovich In 2013, Lillie Nicole McCloud of Orlando, Florida, wowed all four judges and the entire audience on Season 3 of the television competition show The X Factor with her rendition of CeCe Winans’ lovely Biblical ballad, “Alabaster Box.” McCloud’s dramatic pacing channels the late Whitney Houston and captures the gravitas of the story in Matthew about the woman who anoints Jesus’s head with oil. But the song, which highlights the tale’s message about the power of worship and salvation, also has strains ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 5, 2017

“I Am Blessed” MarQuez Curtis feat. Tiffanie “Tutu” Agee Mary Elizabeth Music Group (2017) By Bob Marovich For those wondering what Tiffanie “Tutu” Agee of the Truthettes has been up to lately, it’s joining MarQuez Curtis in giving effusive testimony for blessings bestowed by God—blessings that neither singer takes for granted. That’s the premise of “I Am Blessed,” a spirited hand-clapper that blends the sleekness of contemporary gospel with the churchiness of quartet singing, complete with a vamp that could have gone on even longer. From Memphis, Tennessee, MarQuez Curtis attends Light of Glory International Church (LOGIC) under the leadership ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 29, 2017

“He Won’t Let You Down” Victoria Brown From the album Journey (release date: May 2, 2017) www.victoriabrownministries.com By Bob Marovich Hearing “He Won’t Let You Down” leaves no doubt that traditional gospel is in Victoria Brown’s DNA. Brown travels from sweet to shout on this bluesy and evangelistic selection. It is as much an internal conversation about inaccurate past assumptions as a directive to the listener that only God can make things right. The song’s vamp gives Brown space to extemporize, which I imagine pulls audiences out of their seat in affirmation whenever Brown sings it live. No stranger to the recording process, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 22, 2017

“Lord, You’ve Been Good to Me” Tim Woodson & the Heirs of Harmony Peacock Music Group (release date: April 11, 2017) www.peacockmusicgroup.com By Bob Marovich With their version of a gospel quartet classic recorded in 1961 by the Original Five Blind Boys (and credited to the late Lloyd Woodard), Tim Woodson & the Heirs of Harmony give a contemporary touch to what is otherwise a straight ahead old-school sound. The track opens with a low-volume and stripped down version of the song and then transitions, as from black and white to color, into the Heirs of Harmony’s version. “Lord, You’ve Been Good to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 17, 2017

“You Can Call on Jesus” Donnie, Darryl & the Joyboyz From the JSound Records album He Did It (release date: October 21, 2016) By Bob Marovich From Nashville, Tennessee, Donnie and Darryl Frierson are known as the “smallest men in gospel” because they each hit four-and-a-half feet tall and not much more than that. But good things come in small packages, and the brothers prove it on the 2016 selection, “You Can Call on Jesus.”  It’s a joyous Sunday morning shouting song with a quartet backbeat that has the live recording audience clapping along. The Friersons sing the encouraging word ...

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