Pick of the Week

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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JGM Pick of the Week: August 20, 2019

“In My Name” Ruth La’Ontra ALJR Music Group/Tyscot Records, LLC Available on all digital outlets By Bob Marovich Ruth La’Ontra, the Stellar Award-nominated artist from Aberdeen, North Carolina, is going after radio play with her new single, “In My Name.” From her 2017 album I Got You, Ruth’s marvelous cover of the Thompson Community Singers’ 1992 hit evokes Kim McFarland’s original solo nearly note for note as the background vocalists update the song without taking away one ounce of the original flavor. It’s refreshing to hear a classic redone with as much fidelity as forward-looking fashion. Music and ministry run ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 13, 2019

“Don’t Judge Me” Kierra Sheard feat. Missy Elliott Karew Entertainment / RCA Inspiration (release date: August 9, 2019) By Bob Marovich The latest gospel-R&B mashup, “Don’t Judge Me,” teams Grammy-nominated and Stellar Award-winning Kierra Sheard of Detroit’s legendary Clark-Moss dynasty with Missy Elliott, iconic hip hop artist and soon-to-be MTV Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Awardee. In a tone of humility laced with media fatigue, Sheard sings “I just ran through the fire; please don’t judge me.” Though directly in response to those who put Sheard’s every move under a microscope, the song also serves as a rejoinder to haters everywhere ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 5, 2019

“I’ll Be Alright” Larry Hill feat. Ervin “Bigman” Williams RonKay Music Group (release date: May 1, 2019) www.ronkaymusic.com By Bob Marovich Though “I’ll Be Alright” is ostensibly a solo outing for Philadelphia gospel singer Larry Hill, it thrums with the sound of good old fashioned southern soul quartet. One reason is the presence of quartet guitar wizard Ervin “Bigman” Williams, who offers up a quick, whimsical lick for an intro and proceeds to weave guitar riffs in and out of the singing and chugging rhythm section. Then there’s the background harmonies and the shouting vamp that goes on for a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 29, 2019

“While I Wait” Shara J Anjelica Records (release date: February 26, 2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/sharaj By Bob Marovich While the hypnotically flowing beat of “While I Wait” provides an inkling of the single’s Bahamian roots, it’s delivered with such American Pentecostal passion by Shara J that most would never know of its island origins. A worship leader in her native Bahamas, Shara J gives “While I Wait” the heart-pouring reading that the plaintive ballad requires. “You said I could come boldly before your throne of grace,” she sings, “but my heart is broken and I don’t have the strength.” It’s easy to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 16, 2019

“Praise Belongs to You” Jason Clayborn & the Atmosphere Changers Tyscot Records www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich “Praise Belongs to You,” co-written by Grammy Award-nominated gospel songwriter Jason Clayborn, author of such hits as Hezekiah Walker’s “Better” and Ricky Dillard’s “I Survived It,” is Clayborn’s debut single as an artist for Tyscot Records. Assisted by his small choir, the Atmosphere Changers, Clayborn offers a radio-ready praise anthem aided by full-bodied production, dramatic key changes, and lead vocal assists from Isaiah Freeman and Matt Austin. The Atmosphere Changers incrementally build the song’s tension with passionate and full-throated harmonies until the only place ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 8, 2019

“Amazing Grace” Rachel Hawkes Independent (release date: May 1, 2019) We know the hymn, but English singer Rachel Hawkes makes it her own with a new verse, harmonica-tight harmonies, and an easy, delightful delivery. The contrast between the thumping percussion and Hawkes’ honey-smooth voice sells the song. Classically trained—she played cello for two orchestras—Rachel Hawkes has been singing and writing for more ten years. Her cello solo on Saint-Saens’ “Le Cygne” is just as disarming as her work on “Amazing Grace.” With more than six albums to her credit, she may just be one of the best singers you’ve never ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 2, 2019

“Hold Out” Tim Rogers and the Fellas feat. Calvin Richardson SAG Music Group (release date: April 26, 2019) By Bob Marovich As they make plain on their new single, “Hold Out,” Tim Rogers and the Fellows work hard to keep the traditional quartet vibe alive. The single is forged in the crucible of wooden-church worship with enough contemporary accouterments to appeal to today’s radio listeners. Indeed, Rogers expects the song to hit the airwaves because he calls out to “those of you in radio land and are listening to my voice” to turn the volume up. Gospel singer turned R&B ...

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