Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: November 11, 2019

“Leave It Alone” Alvin Darling From the Emtro Gospel CD Leave It Alone (release date: September 20, 2019) By Bob Marovich From singer, songwriter, pastor, and Stellar and Dove Award nominee Alvin Darling comes “Leave It Alone,” a quartet-flavored roof-raiser. The verses string together familiar church aphorisms while the chorus sums it up: “God can fix it better than you can.” An agreeable lead vocal with ample support from background vocalists and musicians evoke Darling’s zesty 2003 album, Waiting Right Here. His foundation in quartet and Pentecostal music is evident throughout the single, which is short and simple but effective.

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 4, 2019

“Saved” April Hall Enon Music Group (release date: March 27, 2019) By Bob Marovich The featured soloist on Damon Little’s 2016 Billboard-charting “I Won’t Be Defeated,” April Hall returns with her own single, “Saved.” This new take on a traditional song finds Hall singing with austerity while the musicians and background vocalists move at double time. Halfway through, she drops the austerity and begins to deliver her trademark church-wrecking shouts, growls, and whoos, learned from a lifetime of listening to gospel quartets in her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. By the end, you can imagine her engaging in a holy dance. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 28, 2019

“I’ve Decided to Make Jesus My Choice” Marcel McManus Sr. Independent (release date: September 4, 2018) By Bob Marovich Sometimes you just need to hear gospel done the old fashioned way, like they used to do in church: solo voice and piano. A young man with an old soul, Marcel McManus Sr. accompanies himself on piano on a cover of Harrison Johnson’s testimonial, “I’ve Decided to Make Jesus My Choice.” The singer takes what was originally arranged for choir and turns it into a solo spotlight, offering up a host of vocal flowers and frills while staying true to the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 21, 2019

“All In His Plan” PJ Morton feat. Le’Andria Johnson and Mary Mary Morton Inspiration/Tyscot (release date: September 20, 2019) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich “All In His Plan” addresses the issue we all grapple with: why do bad or hurtful things happen to us when God has the power to wipe it all away? The song’s conclusion: it’s “all in His plan.” There is a reason for everything—we just can’t see it yet. As maddening as it feels sometimes, we have to put our trust in God “because He already worked it out, in the end.” PJ Morton gives the ballad ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 14, 2019

“He Loves Me” Yael Hilton Light Records / eOne Music (release date: August 30, 2019) By Bob Marovich Light Records was very fortunate to sign Yael Hilton, one of the most talented female vocalists to emerge from today’s galaxy of independent gospel artists. Her newest single, “God Can,” released in September, is a singing tour de force, but it’s “He Loves Me” that has the greatest radio potential. To a brassy and infectious Motown swagger, Hilton dominates the vocal line like a seasoned soloist. She weaves blue notes and Le’Andria-like raves on this feel-good song that sounds at first blush ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 2, 2019

“Take Your Burdens” Chrystal Rucker From the forthcoming album Graced for This www.habakkukmusic.com By Bob Marovich Chrystal Rucker is one of the finest gospel singers today. Whether on her own or as a featured vocalist, she can turn a good gospel song into a great one. That’s what she does with “Take Your Burdens,” a conventional song of hope and encouragement written and produced by Asaph Ward. The single gets full-barrel Chrystal. She starts out by giving the song a melodic reading, then opens up her arsenal of growls, squalls, falsetto notes, leaving the listener thoroughly bedazzled by the end. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 23, 2019

“I Know He’s Been Good” Linda Sanders Higher Praise Records (2019) By Bob Marovich You can take the woman out of the quartet, but you cannot take the quartet out of the woman. In the case of Linda Sanders, that’s a good thing. After many years of singing gospel quartet with a number of groups, most notably the Zion Travelers of East St. Louis, and about a year providing lead vocals for a recording group called De’Vine, Sanders of St. Louis has gone solo. Her debut single, “I Know He’s Been Good” has all the components of quartet singing. Backed ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 16, 2019

“I Can Do Anything” Joanna Hale-McGill McGill Music Group (release date: June 22, 2019) From the CD New Sound, Same God Vol. 1 www.JoannaHaleMcGill.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Joanna Hale-McGill has a keen ear for song hooks. On “I Can Do Anything,” the praise & worship leader of His Will Worship Center in Slidell, Louisiana, embeds memorable hooks in the lyrics, in the music, in the bits of electronica, in the overall arrangement, and sometimes even in the spaces between. The song is an anthem of heaven-bestowed empowerment bathed in a bubbly, shoulder-shaking vibe and driven by insistent eighth notes ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 10, 2019

“Grateful” James Chappell III Independent (release date: October 5, 2018) aplazmanagementllc@gmail.com By Bob Marovich “Grateful” is a charming, smile-inducing song on its own, but add James Chappell III as lead vocalist, and it delights on two levels. In less than three minutes, Chappell channels the elastic yodels of Sam Cooke and Johnny Taylor, lofts falsetto notes like the Reverend Claude Jeter, adds a bit of Reverend Al Green southern twang, and delivers gut-wrenching growls like Joe Ligon. Backed by a quartet and with a rhythm section galloping along in mid-tempo, Chappell sounds as pleased with God’s intervention in his life ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 2, 2019

“He Worked It Out” Leah Oduro-Kwarten Ok Productions (release date: June 22, 2018) By Bob Marovich A lead vocalist with the Illinois Midwest Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Choir under Dr. Cynthia Nunn, Leah Oduro-Kwarten, better known as Lady Flo, flexes her Chicago chops on this high energy aisle walker. Lady Flo lends her smoky alto to songwriter Angela Frazier’s double-time shout of hallelujah. An effervescent group of background vocalists serves as the choir to Lady Flo’s evangelistic declamations. The “work it out” vamp is reminiscent of Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer’s “He Can Work It Out,” but without the baby needing shoes. When ...

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