Pick of the Week

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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JGM Pick of the Week: May 1, 2017

“In His Presence” Geneatha Wright Feat. the Bible Faith Tabernacle Choir and Denise Renee Godfather Records (release date: March 27, 2017) www.cdbaby.com/cd/geneathawright2 By Bob Marovich First Lady Geneatha Wright gives her all to “In His Presence,” a simple, sweet ballad written by her husband, Pastor David Wright, about being where Jesus is because where Jesus is, there is peace, freedom, and liberty. Together with the Bible Faith Tabernacle Choir and soloist Denise Renee, Wright builds the intensity of the song until it ends in fiery evangelistic shouting. The instruments drop out at one point to accentuate the singing.  “In His ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 25, 2017

“He’s the One” Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Pastor Walter E. Ellis From the album Kainos (The Acoustic Documentary) Puretonez Production/eOne Distribution (release date: September 2016) www.monicalisastevenson.com By Bob Marovich Those who appreciate the fiery traditional singing of Monica Lisa Stevenson, the proverbial fifth Caravan, will be slightly taken aback by her softer, gentler, and overall acoustic approach to “He’s the One.” I say slightly taken aback because “Try Jesus (He’s the One)” is not a new song: MLS’s father and uncles, who had formed a quartet, sang it on their programs. It’s a traditional song.  Only the smooth arrangement and ...

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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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