Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: October 19, 2015

“Hear Us” Maurice Griffin MGM Chicago Music Group www.mauricegriffinonline.com Maurice Griffin went from being in the Chicago-based gospel group New Direction to winning the Gospel Music Workshop of America Gospel Treasure competition in 2007, then to being a finalist on Season Two of BET’s Sunday Best. He was nominated for a 2013 Stellar Award for Best Artist of the Year. Part of the reason for Griffin’s upward trajectory is his vocal agility and capacity to read a praise lyric with just the right mix of conviction and pacing. He demonstrates all of this on “Hear Us,” a single that he released last ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 12, 2015

“You Should Have Been There” Virginia Aires www.VirginiaAires.com The Virginia Aires’s new single is a mid-tempo rouser with a backbeat that exudes the sheer joy of personal salvation. The before and after effects of being saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost is a familiar narrative in gospel music. It nearly always receives the spirited vocal and musical treatment that the Virginia Aires employ, and for good reason.  When “your feet get light,” it’s no time for contemplation or drama. About midway through the vamp, the quartet shifts from the personal to the communal, asking how many in the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 5, 2015

“My Son” Okey Sokay From the forthcoming Orangeville Music album Revealed https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/my-son-single/id1042589852 This week’s pick takes us to the Ebonyi State of Nigeria and an artist named Okechukwu Dickson, who goes by the stage name of Okey Sokay. “My Son” is a tuneful, piano-driven solo on God’s fatherly compassion, written in an American contemporary gospel style and sung in English. If you “open up the door to your heart,” sings Okey Sokay in the guise of the Lord God, “I will never let you fall, I’ll catch you…because I love you…I know how you feel right now, but I promise ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 28, 2015

“The Story of Love” 6th Day Made www.6thdaymade.com Wonder what U2 would sound like as a Christian rock band? Look no further than “The Story of Love” by 6th Day Made. Mark Maggard’s thickly layered guitar, Jason Eaton’s tenor vocals hurled skyward, and the marching band rhythm of Randy Healy and Jeff Trent bring the Dublin dynamos vividly to mind. Lyrically, the Michigan band paints a portrait of love as arms stretched outward on a cross and offers an apocryphal message by imploring the listener to “let the world hear, let the world know….it won’t be long.” This is the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 21, 2015

“Love Vs. the World” Xavier O’Connor Testimony Records (2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/xavieroconnor2 With its finger-popping beat and modern big band sound, “Love Vs. the World” pits protagonist Xavier O’Connor against a variety of anthropomorphic emotions, including jealousy, fear, and hate, that invade his space like comic book villains. But alas, just as Jesus defeated Satan, our man whips the negative emotions with that crazy little thing called love. Xavier O’Connor hails from Delray Beach, Florida. A product of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, O’Connor took classical music lessons, and attended a fine arts high school and Oakwood College. He wrote, produced, recorded, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 14, 2015

“Have You Been Shook” The Sons of the Soul Revivers (2015) https://www.facebook.com/TheSonsOfTheSoulReviversOfSanFranciscoCA San Francisco quartet The Sons of the Soul Revivers barrels down in fourth gear on the drive tempo “Have You Been Shook,” singing with the alacrity of their predecessors, the Soul Revivers. Eschewing electronic keys, programmed drums, etc. for raw propulsion from electric guitar, real drum skins, bass, and shouting vocals, the Sons even sound like the former group. The main phrase is one that actually works better in the passive voice: “Have you been shook by the hand of God?”  The song must do well at live ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 7, 2015

“So Good” Melvin Williams feat. Dottie Peoples From the forthcoming album Where I Started From www.MelvinWilliams.net Melvin Williams of the Williams Brothers quartet joins the fiery Dottie Peoples in a bluesy gospel “take ‘em to church” moment. The Stan Jones-produced “So Good” is a litany of the many ways God has been good to His people throughout the ages, today, and into the future. By mid-recording, the two singers turn downright evangelistic, instructing the listener in urgent, direct tones to mind well their words. Someone who can “rescue Daniel from the lion’s den,” “turn water into wine” and “give eyesight ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 31, 2015

“Worthy is the Lamb” Eminence (2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/eminence2 On its first single, “Worthy is the Lamb,” New York-based gospel ensemble Eminence demonstrates kinship with the vocally aerobic sound of the late O’Landa Draper. Sections of soothing harmony on this majestic praiser transition abruptly to passages of throaty, dramatic angularity, and then back again, in a mashup of gospel and senior choir techniques. The group will garner interest for its demonstrative attack of lyric lines alone. Written by Karl Jackson with musical production by Gary Mayes, “Worthy is the Lamb” is reminiscent of 1990s gospel choirs but is as contemporary as this moment.

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 24, 2015

“You Can’t Give Up” Paul Porter From the Motown Gospel CD F.R.E.E. (2014) www.motowngospel.com Paul Porter lets his quartet roots show in this bluesy gospel song about staying encouraged in the midst of unbearable personal circumstances. Backed by a quartet, Porter sings and eventually shouts lyrics that contain what I call the spiritual ‘but’: sickness might be “getting worse and you don’t know what to do,” or “life for you has been so rough,” but hold on, put your trust in the Lord, and don’t give up–he will see you through. Porter knows whereof he sings. Stricken with a brain aneurysm in ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 17, 2015

“I’ll Say Yes to My Lord” Pastor Angela Walker & Divine Revelation From the forthcoming CD Door to the Next Level This spirited Chicago choir goes 100 percent church on “I’ll Say Yes to My Lord,” complete with cascading choral parts, a frenetic pace and even faster vamp, and an interpolation of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”  To those who think trad gospel is dead, I say, listen to groups such as Divine Revelation. Organized in 2006 and winners of the 2014 Urban Broadcast Media Voices of Praise Battle Competition, Pastor Angela Walker and Divine Revelation can be heard each Sunday at God’s ...

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