Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: May 12, 2015

“All My Help” Pharis Evans Jr. & Loved Ones From the Fountain of Life CD Due Season www.facebook.com/fountainofliferecords Grammy- and Stellar-nominated singer, songwriter, and producer Pharis Evans Jr. comes from great musical stock—his uncle is Rev. Dr. Clay Evans and his father is Rev. Pharis Evans Sr. ‘Nuff said. Not surprisingly, “All My Help” is a churchy offering. It has a bouncy rhythm, simple lyrics, a playful call and response between Pharis and the choir, a quartet-worthy vamp, and a cameo by Rev. Dr. Clay Evans. It’s all part of the family tradition and part of Pharis’s own commitment to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 5, 2015

“I Need U” Criss Righteous Rank 1 Entertainment Mention the name Criss “Righteous” Johnson to those in the know, and they will tell you he is a skillful accompanist who has worked with gospel quartets for decades.  He even served as the longtime guitarist for Pastor Shirley Caesar. With “I Need U,” Criss Righteous breaks with tradition by stepping up to the mike as a solo artist. Well, not a total break with tradition—the song bleeds quartet soul, even if the beat is contemporary. Soloist or not, Criss growls that he needs Jesus, because “I can’t make it all by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 27, 2015

“Just Jesus” Bishop Jonathan Greer Released February 3, 2015 Now when is the last time you heard “Just Jesus” sung as a single? Thank God for Bishop Jonathan Greer II and his choir. They righteously reprise the good old Zion song, which Greer did originally with the Cathedral of Faith Choirs in 1994. The new version comes complete with shouting vamp and rocking chair 12/8 meter. Raised in Chicago, Bishop Jonathan Greer was called to ministry, first in Nashville, then Atlanta, where he is currently Presiding Bishop of Divine Love Fellowship Church. While at Cathedral of Faith, Greer and the Cathedral ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 20, 2015

“But God” Pastor Judge Gardner Jr. presents The Voices of Testimony Ensemble Twitter: @LTMCHICAGO Who can resist a hand-clapping choir rouser, Chicago style? I sure can’t. “But God” by the Voices of Testimony Ensemble from the Living Testimony Church on Chicago’s Southeast Side (Judge Gardner Jr., Pastor) satisfies the appetite for a pulse-quickening pewburner. Lead vocalist Lil’ Harry sings, shouts, and wails his gratitude for God’s faithfulness in his life as the choir repeats his lines and at the end chants “But God” with metronomic steadiness like the Chicago Mass Choir. “I could have been dead, sleeping in my grave…but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 13, 2015

“I Am Free” Ladell Cole From the CD I Am Free www.cdbaby.com/cd/ladellcole2 Singer-songwriter Ladell Cole lofts falsetto notes over this gentle, hand waving anthem of eternal gratitude to Jesus for the price he paid to purchase the world’s freedom. The melody is lovely and the key change adds just the right amount of punch to the concluding chorus. Ladell Cole is worship pastor at Christ Fellowship Church in Tampa, Florida, and organizer of the city’s popular Worship United celebration.  The song is the title track from Cole’s sophomore album, released last August.

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 6, 2015

“Pray” Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir From the CD Pray (released February 2015) www.brooklyntabernacle.org Lead vocalist Timiney Figueroa sings passionately about the power of prayer as the wave of delicious sound that is the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir rolls over her in giant washes of majestic harmony. The song is the title track of the multicultural choir’s 29th album since its founding by Carol Cymbala in 1973. Of this live recording, Cymbala says: “With so many tragic events happening in the world today, Pray serves as a reminder of the importance of having a relationship with Jesus, because communion is what He longs ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 30, 2015

“Forever I Will” Lonnie Hunter feat. Structure From the forthcoming Tyscot CD #GETITDONE www.lonniehuntermusic.com Recently signed to major gospel label Tyscot Music and Entertainment, the Stellar Award-winning singer, choir director, Radio One show host, former male model, Air Force veteran, and native Chicagoan Lonnie Hunter wasted no time getting a new single to market. Written by Davie Moore, “Forever I Will” is the first single release from Hunter’s forthcoming Tyscot album, #GETITDONE. It is a dramatic, radio-friendly contemporary ballad reminiscent of Kirk Franklin’s early work. Hunter serves as minister to Structure’s congregation as they combine praise with supplication.

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 23, 2015

“Just For Me” Tim Spady feat. Jeff Murrell Available on iTunes (release date: March 20, 2015) https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/just-for-me-feat.-jeff-murrell/id978825762 The always-melodic songwriter Tim Spady of Philadelphia teams with vocalist Jeff Murrell on the Easter-themed “Just For Me.” Over Spady’s dramatic and semi-classical musicianship, Murrell praises Jesus for paying the price “just for me.” His tear-stained tenor is the ideal medium for this song about the ultimate sacrifice.

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 16, 2015

“Persona” Corey Barksdale www.coreybarksdalemusic.com “I know this for myself / I don’t have to be like anyone else.” Corey Barksdale drops into a finger-popping acoustic groove to declare that he’s done listening to what other people think he should be. God knew what he was doing when he made me, he sings, and that’s all there is to it. Besides, “everybody fails at being just like somebody else.” This breezy, inspirational selection gives the vocally flexible Barksdale space to run up and down the bass and treble clefs like stair steps.

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 10, 2015

“I Got Better Coming” LaVarnga Hubbard Utopia Music Group (2015) On her new single, Lady LaVarnga Hubbard of Chicago has “got better coming,” and she’s not afraid to shout down the church rafters to let you know. Church shouting is what the “Duchess of Gospel Music” does.  She rollicks along on the up-tempo, traditional-laden “I Got Better Coming” like a twin sister of fellow Chicagoans Lemmie Battles or Angie Spivey. Old-fashioned gospel music will never die as long as the likes of Lady LaVarnga have a breath in their body. She comes from the Caravans-Davis Sisters-Gospel Harmonettes tradition, where Zion ...

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