Pick of the Week

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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JGM Pick of the Week: April 2, 2018

“Trouble Won’t Last” Apostle James Alston & Fellowship https://apostlejamesalston.com/ By Bob Marovich By their name, Apostle James Alston & Fellowship sounds like a P&W group, but they are actually a quartet, complete with Alston’s gravelly lead vocal delivery and gospel chuckle. For “Trouble Won’t Last,” Alston & Fellowship delivers the reassuring message of Psalm 30:5, like so many decades of quartets before them, in the language of the spiritual, “I’m so glad trouble don’t last always.” Of course, the melody and lyrics are different from the spiritual, and the quartet gives their song a bounce appropriate for the joyful sentiment. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 19, 2018

“Prayer Room” Jarell Smalls & Co. From the CD A New Season Southern Wave Music Group / Get Ready Music Group (release date: May 19, 2017) http://jarellsmalls.com/ By Bob Marovich By evoking Grandma at the outset, Jarell Smalls gives the appropriate old-school pedigree to “Prayer Room.” Then, to a rockabilly-guitar-meets-Pentecostal-beat, he and his group jump into the congregational classic, “Come in the Prayer Room.” The Charleston, South Carolina-born Smalls scats, vamps, chants, and shouts like a quartet singer. With about two minutes remaining on the recording, the Company moves from the back to the front. The singers shift the melody, but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 5, 2018

“Let the Healing Begin” Ernest J. Lee feat. Gerard Brooks From Anthems from the Vault, Vol. 1 David’s Dance Music/RedTape Ent. (release date: June 13, 2017) https://ernestjleemusic.org/ By Bob Marovich All of us have burdens, Ernest J. Lee states at the outset of “Let the Healing Begin,” and it’s time to shed them. Featured vocalist Gerard Brooks then joins Lee on this prayer asking God to “let your glory fall all over the world,” including on our jobs and on our schools. The poignant melody and arrangement, complete with chiming background vocalists, provide the foundation on which the two men emote.  ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 26, 2018

“Your Blessing is on its Way” God’s Posse From The Kind of God We Serve: Live in Chicago (EP) Trewworks Music Group/Denzell Music Group By Bob Marovich The Chicago-based quartet God’s Posse offers a traditional drive-tempo workout in “Your Blessing is on its Way.” The infectious backbeat, the singers’ palpable enthusiasm, the muscular music, and the live audience’s handclapping are ideal complements to the song’s message of hope and encouragement. It also points out the importance of recording gospel music in front of an audience or congregation. Gospel music recorded in the studio is fine, but there’s something magical about hearing a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 19, 2018

“Awaiting My King” Mrs. Inspire Inspire Be You Beauty, LLC (release date: January 17, 2018) www.mrsinspire.com By Bob Marovich Mrs. Inspire lends her enchanting voice to “Awaiting My King,” a lovely melodic CCM ballad that exposes the singer’s own struggles and vulnerability in hopes of encouraging others similarly burdened to do what she has done: “cast your cares on Him.” The Texas-based singer-songwriter discovered her talent for singing, and her love for Christian music, around the age of five, and has been involved in music ministry her whole life. She has also worked as a model and promotes “modeling with a message,” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 5, 2018

“He Knows My Name (The Worship Experience)” William H. Rainer Jr. Overboard Records (2018) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/williamhrainerjr1 By Bob Marovich On “He Knows My Name,” husky-voiced William H. Rainer Jr. expresses delight that the Savior knows his name and has brought him through “so many things” even when he has gone astray. The track goes down smooth, its vibe falling somewhere between James Cleveland and VaShawn Mitchell. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, William H. Rainer Jr. (“Rainey Jr.”) is a gospel singer, songwriter and bass player. He is praise team director for the Church of the Living God in Fairview Heights, Illinois, ...

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