Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: September 20, 2021

“Jesus Christ is Lord” Carmella Green Cloud Records (release date: December 18, 2020) www.cloudrecordsllc.com By Robert M. Marovich “Jesus Christ is Lord” by Carmella Green is another outstanding sacred single from Cloud Records, an emerging label with a small but mighty roster of accomplished vocalists. Despite being a soprano, Carmella Green delivers this song in a deep, dramatic voice, like a trained senior choir soloist. She does toss in a few vocal flowers, mostly at the end, but in general, she sings the worship opus in an operatic style. With its text drawn from Philippians 2:10-11 (“every knee shall bow, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 13, 2021

“I Am Strong” Capathia Jenkins Cloud Records (release date: June 11, 2021) http://www.cloudrecordsllc.com/ By Robert M. Marovich “I Am Strong” by Capathia Jenkins is an excellent song, marvelously sung, perfectly arranged and produced, and with a message about courage that transcends the purely spiritual. The Brooklyn-born singer has performed with several orchestras and has a list of acting credits as long as your arm. These include creating the character of Harriet Jackson in the vastly underrated Broadway musical, The Civil War, and the character of The Washing Machine in Caroline, or Change. She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 30, 2021

“UWait2021” Walter Barnes Jr. & Men of Ministry From the Barnyard Records CD Nothing Shall Separate (release date: May 28, 2021) www.BarnYardRecordsllc.com/ By Robert M. Marovich What immediately struck me about “UWait2021” was not its bouncy tempo, its spirited vamp, or its earnest message of encouragement—all important—but the fact that Walter Barnes Jr. & Men of Ministry has that rarest of rarities: a bass singer. Said bass singer adds a nice touch, too. Bring bass singers back to quartet! The song was originally released as “U Wait” on the quartet’s self-titled 2008 album. Naturally, since things do not seem to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week August 23, 2021

“Redeemed” Denita Gibbs IndieBlu / eOne Music (release date: June 25, 2021) www.denitagibbs.com By Robert M. Marovich Denita Gibbs of Birmingham, Alabama (now living in Nashville), is an excellent gospel artist who has not gotten an even break since her 2013 project, the five-star Without You (Audiostate 55 Entertainment). For “Redeemed,” a jumping celebration of salvation, Gibbs employs the talented producer Sean D. Scales, who injects the arrangement with gallons of urban AC swagger. Perhaps this selection will not only express her joy at redemption but be redemptive for her career. She certainly deserves it. This woman can sing!

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JGM Pick of the Week August 16, 2021

“Fear is Not Welcome” Brian Courtney Wilson feat. Hilary Scott From the Motown Gospel CD Still (Deluxe) (single release date: July 9, 2021) www.motowngospel.com By Robert M. Marovich While the original version of Brian Courtney Wilson’s “Fear is Not Welcome” was potent enough, for the Deluxe edition of Still, he duets with Hilary Scott, co-lead singer of Lady A (formerly Lady Antebellum) and who, as Hillary Scott & the Scott Family, released the Grammy Award-winning Christian music album, Love Remains. Together, the two declare holy war on fear, but not without a call for assistance from on high. Echoes of Psalm ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 9, 2021

“Amazing” Pastor Mike Jr. Blacksmoke Music Worldwide (release date: July 30, 2021) www.pastormikejr.com By Robert M. Marovich Pastor Mike McClure Jr., better known as Pastor Mike Jr., the 2021 Stellar Awards Artist of the Year and gospel music’s current It Guy, cleverly gospelizes Gnarls Barkley’s 2006 smash hit “Crazy” as “Amazing.” Amazingly, it works. To a chill arrangement and with ample support from a full-throated choir of background vocalists, Pastor Mike Jr. takes his time with the famous melody. He stretches the tension to the breaking point, then lets the choir handle the finish. Expect groups around the country to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 2, 2021

“Still Faithful” Christina Bell feat. Fred Hammond From the Malaco Music Group CD Still Faithful (release date: July 30, 2021) www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich With or without assistance from gospel legend Fred Hammond, “Still Faithful” is former Z’iel member Christina Bell’s best solo single yet. To a lilting melody, Bell declares on the title track of her new album that regardless of the day’s pains and tragedies, and there are many, don’t worry, God is there for you. Hammond is in full agreement, grateful that God prevented potential problems from happening in his life. In true gospel song fashion, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 26, 2021

“It’s Time” Mary Glover Independent (released October 20, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich In tone, tempo, and message, Mary Glover’s “It’s Time” commands people to snap out of it, get right, act right, and be joyful in the Lord. Glover’s sassy and declarative alto, honed in the community of quartet singers, is the ideal vehicle to lift everyone out of their seats and feel the excitement she feels. As such, she evokes other powerhouse gospel singers like Monica Lisa Stevenson, Lemmie Battles, and Lisa Knowles. From Lima, Ohio, and now living in Cleveland, Glover started singing at age six and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 19, 2021

“I’d Rather Have Jesus” True Believers Malaco Music Group / 4 Winds (release date: June 23, 2021) www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich From the opening vocal harmony riff and the incessant piano triplets to the ultra-soulful lead vocals by Castro Coleman, “I’d Rather Have Jesus” sounds like a 1960s soul record but it is as new as a minute ago. Lyrically, the song by the True Believers quartet evokes the 1922 hymn with the same title, about forsaking the riches of the world for the wealth of eternity. The twist is that Coleman references the modern era when he describes ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 5, 2021

“Ain’t Nobody Like Jesus” Ron Rawls Red Torch Music (release date: June 15, 2021) www.rawlsmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich Ron Rawls may be best known as the music director for Christian artist Mandisa; he worked on her Grammy and Dove Award-winning album, Overcomer (2013). On “Ain’t Nobody Like Jesus,” a bracing pop-flavored ode of gratitude to Jesus, Rawls shows his stuff as a solo artist. Its funky chorus evokes jams from the likes of John Legend and Bruno Mars. Fundamentally the song is a call-and-response between Rawls and the background vocalists, but the superb musicians and Rawls’ staccato delivery and ...

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