Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: April 17, 2017

“Touch Me” Ronica & the Blazing Stars MoDa Records (2017) RonicaTheBlazingStars@gmail.com By Bob Marovich “Touch Me” by Ronica & the Blazing Stars has the relentless up-tempo quartet backbeat and chugging guitars that recall the days when standard musical accompaniment and Holy Ghost-inspired singing were all you needed to move a congregation and shout the glory down. From Mooresville, North Carolina, lead singer Ronica Bowers evokes gospel stompers Evelyn Turrentine-Agee and Dottie Peoples. During the vamp, she cries out for anointing “in this mean old world” so she is healed and can sing and shout right (she does a pretty good ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 12, 2017

“Forever Mercy” Lamont Sanders Independent release, October 2015 www.lamontsanders.com On “Forever Mercy,” New Jersey singer and songwriter Lamont Sanders—a self-described mashup of John P. Kee and Luther Vandross—contributes his combined experience in church music and R&B to this deftly-produced ballad that extols the grace and mercy of Jesus. Sanders not only gives thanks for that grace and mercy, but he seeks an invitation to discipleship because, after all, “we are nothing without you.” The repeated line, “Hallelujah Jesus, your mercy endures forever” gives the ballad its P&W moment and makes for an ideal congregational singalong in a worship service or ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 3, 2017

“Keep Pushin” Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson SRT Entertainment (release date: March 24, 2017) To a hard-charging funk arrangement, Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson encourages listeners to not give up because God “will never leave you by yourself.” Working two jobs? Body in pain? “Just keep pushin’.” A young man born with an old soul, Johnson has helped keep the traditional quartet sound alive, though “Keep Pushin” has more in common with mid-‘70s Isley Brothers. Nevertheless, Johnson lets loose with a good old quartet shout several times during the song. Johnson recently paid tribute to Spencer Taylor Jr., “the Godfather of Gospel,” with a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 27, 2017

“Joy!” Warren Dean Flandez, feat. Top Line Vocal Collective From the CD Eternally Grateful www.wdfworld.com On his new project, Eternally Grateful, Vancouver gospel sensation Warren Dean Flandez reprises the five-star material from his EP What the World Needs Now, adding additional tracks to round the package out. “Joy!,” featuring the talented 50-member choir known as Top Line Vocal Collective, is one of the songs brought forward from the EP. This paean to God’s goodness blends old and new seamlessly, capturing the celebratory mood found in both traditional and contemporary gospel music. Reviewing What the World Needs Now last March, I had ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 6, 2017

“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” Out of the Dust Discovery House Music (release date: March 7, 2017) www.outofthedustmusic.com I’m inclined to think that English songwriter Stuart Townend is a nineteenth-century hymnist reincarnated. His 1995 composition, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” as covered by the husband-and-wife duo Out of the Dust on their self-titled debut album, sounds like it comes straight outta the Southern Harmony, a shaped-note hymnal, or a Shaker hymnbook. Its beautiful simplicity, honored by Chris and Stephanie Teague’s delicate reading, makes it a keeper, suitable for singing in all types of worship services and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 27, 2017

“It Could Have Been Me” Dorothy Norwood feat. Dorinda Clark-Cole From the Echo Park JDI album An Incredible Journey Available on iTunes, Amazon.com The old-school hand-clapper “It Could Have Been Me” brings together Dorothy Norwood and Dorinda Clark-Cole, two female vocalists representing two different generations but equally powerful when it comes to singing the glory down. The two are “grateful to God to still be “in the land of the living,” because at any point, they declare, it could have gone very differently. And as the hook expresses, “other people have been through what I’ve been through and they didn’t make ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 20, 2017

“Outpour” Lynn McCree featuring Judah 1st www.igaraa.com/lynn-mccree.html Songs that open with hushed piano and vocal never fail to get my attention. Lynn McCree’s “Outpour” got my attention. It’s a lovely ballad, lovingly sung, a prayer closet pleading to the Lord for a pouring out of blessings. “Pour out your joy / I don’t want to cry no more,” McCree and her Judah 1st singers express. The song is as passionate and delicate as the blessings they seek, and it feels as if it could even extend beyond its 3:42 length. The production expertly focuses on the singing, with the piano taking a secondary but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 14, 2017

“Testify” James Douglas feat. LeJuene Thompson From the forthcoming project Still I Praise https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesdouglas42 It could be intimidating for some artists to have a fiery singer like LeJuene Thompson on their single, but James Douglas proves an equally effective vocalist on “Testify.” “Testify” is as it sounds: despite having his name scandalized, despite going through the fire and the flood, and even despite the prospect of “throwing in the towel,” which in context sounds like a contemplation of suicide, Douglas declares that every time, God “made a way somehow.” Moaning her way into the song’s vamp, Thompson gives her testimony ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 6, 2017

“God’s FreqWincey” Wincey From God’s FreqWincey (released in 2015) www.winceycomusic.com On her new single, “God’s FreqWincey,” Wincey Terry-Bryant plays off her first name to testify about how prayer gives her a clearer focus on her past, present, and future. The song has a breezy California vibe and Wincey’s singing has the light touch of fellow Newark native Dionne Warwick. Wincey has healthy doses of performing experience, having worked in the television and film industries, and even recorded with jazz great Grover Washington Jr. Being on “God’s FreqWincey” certainly enables Wincey to do plenty of important work. She runs a nonprofit called Nanababies ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 30, 2017

“I Got Out” Bryan Popin Little Boy Wonder Music (release date: January 15, 2017) www.bryanpopin.com Dubbed “Little Boy Wonder” by Stevie Wonder, gospel artist Bryan Popin infuses”I Got Out” with a Pentecostal-flavored explosion of gratitude to God for helping him escape his personal trials.  Popin assures that God will help you out of your “going through,” also. The single is reminiscent of the traditional-meets-contemporary blend of “Alright” and “Thank You Jesus” from Popin’s 2013 album, You Can Make It. From an old-school congregational singalong opening to its evangelist-on-fire vamp, “I Got Out” rocks so hard, it burns to a crisp, ...

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