Pick of the Week

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 ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 14, 2020

“Precious Lord, Take My Hand” Dr. Henry Jackson From the Hawke Music CD Good to Me (release date: July 24, 2019) https://www.hawkemusicllc.com By Bob Marovich It’s great to hear new recordings from Dr. Henry Jackson, an alumnus of the Los Angeles Community Choir and Cleveland Singers, as well as a group leader, soloist and songwriter in his own right. From his 2019 album Good to Me, Jackson gives Thomas A. Dorsey’s “Precious Lord” a more optimistic bounce while maintaining the dignity of the composition. Over the course of a few key changes and nearly seven minutes, Jackson and a group ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 7, 2020

“Alright” Bishop Larry Trotter & Sweet Holy Spirit Choir From the forthcoming album Restored By Bob Marovich Bishop Larry Trotter and the choir of his Sweet Holy Spirit Church on Chicago’s Southeast side offer encouragement in the full-throated, hand-clapping, church-wrecking style emblematic of the Windy City gospel choir sound. In a sandpaper-rough baritone, Trotter sings about “heartaches and pains,” as the choir answers him with a reassuring “alright, it’s gonna be alright.” But it’s the fiery vocalist Betty Lott who sells the song. She works the audience and duets with Trotter as, with the choir, they interpolate a bit of ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 31, 2020

“Happy in Jesus” Exciting Holy Sons From the album Finally Live in Chicago Independent (release date: August 7, 2020) By Bob Marovich If you are a fan of Chicago’s Victory Travelers, you’ll enjoy Chicago’s Exciting Holy Sons. Both groups offer up meaty traditional gospel quartet fare, complete with pulpit-honed messages, squalling lead singers, and the kind of music that lifts congregants to their feet. Even their name hearkens back to when quartets prefaced their names with superlatives, the verbal equivalent of bubble lights on a Wurlitzer jukebox. Sounding very much like the Exciting Holy Sons’ exit song at a gospel ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 11, 2020

“Trust and Believe”Mona MooreIndependent (release date: July 2, 2020)Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich Mona Moore’s affecting treatment of the dramatic “Trust and Believe” is what sells the single. From Houston, Texas, Moore reminds the listener that God is a “miracle worker,” so don’t fret: “God will do what he said He will do.” The lyric inspiration comes in part from Psalm 46:10 (“Be still and know that I am God”). Like a veteran vocalist, Moore begins softly, almost whispery, then moves incrementally into shouting evangelist mode as the mood of the song alters. “Trust and Believe” continues building to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 3, 2020

“God’s Power” Minister John Taylor Jr. John Jr. Gospel Productions, Inc. By Bob Marovich Minister John Taylor Jr. recorded this song in 2016, but it sounds as if it was recorded 50 years earlier. “God’s Power” is a reassurance to all those who are sick, especially Taylor’s mother, whose illness inspired Taylor to write the song. The sweet country melody comes from the southern gospel tradition, but Taylor’s expressive vocals and the background singers have gospel quartet stamped all over them. Born in Peoria, Illinois, adopted through Catholic Charities, and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Taylor is the founder of John ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 27, 2020

“Jesus, Let Us Be One” Roscoe Robinson Savoy Records (original release date: March 1983, reissue 2020) By Bob Marovich “Problems all around us, everyone has an answer,” Roscoe Robinson rues. Seeking the true solution, the gospel and soul singing star not only reaches back for the Word, he also reaches back more than three decades into his own song catalog. On “Jesus, Let Us Be One,” originally released on his 1983 Savoy solo album He’s the One, Roscoe prays for unity in His name “and in your love.” Starting out slow and introspective, the song picks up steam courtesy of a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 20, 2020

“Waiting On You” Dominique Johnson feat. Ernest J. Lee David’s Dance Music (release date: June 16, 2020) By Bob Marovich Chicago’s Dominique Johnson is a singer, songwriter, and musician whose online videos have garnered more than four million views. Dominique’s debut single, “Waiting On You,” is her affirmation that brokenness is over—“so many bad decisions that people thought I was blind”—and that she is no longer moving on her own time but in God’s time. She takes her cue from Isaiah 40:31: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 13, 2020

“Someday” Shirley Murdock feat. Beverly Crawford, Kelly Price and Regina Belle From Live: The Journey (initial release date: 2011; re-released as single: 2020) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Back in 2011, when “Someday” was initially released as part of Shirley Murdock’s Tyscot album Live: The Journey, this is what I had to say: “Someday” features les quatre femmes – Murdock, Beverly Crawford, Kelly Price and Regina Belle – seeking world cooperation during these days of social ills. The four harmonizing on stage together provides enough energy to run a small town for one day, and suggests they take their gospel show ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 7, 2020

“Heal the Brokenness” Mietta Stancil Farrar & Tehillah From the CD The Greatness of God (original release date: 2013) By Bob Marovich Many gospel songs feel as if they were written about current times. Although Mietta Stancil Farrar & Tehillah of  Paterson, New Jersey, initially released “Heal the Brokenness” seven years ago, it falls in this category. This plea for the Lord to do what nobody else can do is made all the more urgent when Mietta and Tehillah increase the passion in their pleading by incrementally boosting the volume of their voices. Several artists have been re-purposing songs from ...

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