Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: December 28, 2015

“Satisfied” The Fantastic Violinaires Release date: June 30, 2015 Available from digital music stores Like several professional gospel quartets that organized during or before gospel’s golden age, the Fantastic Violinaires are still very much in the soul-saving business. Recharged with new personnel, the quartet founded in Detroit in 1952 maintains its trademark treble harmonies that inspire quartets even today.  And if “Satisfied” is any indication, the group still has plenty of drive in its system. The new single, which piles plaudits upon the Most High for graces bestowed, is vintage Violinaires, complete with piercing, punctuating harmonies, call and response, gritty ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 21, 2015

“Oh Come All Ye Faithful” Grace Covenant Worship From the CD Christmas With Grace: A Mosaic in Song www.gracecov.org Grave Covenant in Chantilly, Virginia, is a “multi-ethnic, multi-site, multi-racial” church with a dynamic music and arts department. “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” from the church’s Christmas release, is delicately orchestrated with strings but also features a firm rhythm section. You can feel the lush harmonies, with flourishes of big round gospel chords, washing over the congregation. Soloists Candice Hinton, Robert Ellis, and songwriter Tifani Wilson assist in raising the carol’s temperature from the first note to the last. Rendered with ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 7, 2015

“Nada me Faltara’” Denyse Bittencourt From the CD Um Minuto Mais www.denysebittencourt.com.br “Nada me Faltara’,” from Brazilian songstress and songwriter Denyse Bittencourt’s Um Minuto Mais, envelops the listener in an easy warmth of mood and tone. Bittencourt’s crystal clear soprano is tinged with just enough passion to bring the song to an intense apex. The title translates from Portugese to English as “I Shall Not Want,” from the first line of Psalm 23 (“The Lord Is My Shepherd”).  But as with any good song, well rendered, you don’t necessarily need to know what the words mean to get the message. Denyse Bittencourt ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 30, 2015

“God’s Got Me” Dexter Walker & Zion Movement https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dexterwalkerandzionmovem From the Chicago choir that won the 2012 Verizon How Sweet the Sound search for the Best Church Choir in America, “God’s Got Me” is a confident declaration of soul comfort sung from within the everlasting arms of the Lord. It’s an embrace that feels so inviting to lead vocalist Minister Tim White that he revs up to testifying by the conclusion. This Percy Bady-produced single, from Dexter Walker & Zion Movement’s forthcoming full project release, is less frenetic than we are used to hearing from ZM and Min. Tim White, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 23, 2015

“He’s Been Good” Dr. A. Edward Davis Jr. & St. John Mass Choir (feat. Omar Kane) Pure Sound Music Group (release date: September 22, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/draedwarddavisjr With “He’s Been Good,” the St. John Mass Choir echoes the rousing gospel choirs of Chicago’s Fellowship M.B., Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer, and Christian Tabernacle churches, and the famed Thompson Community Singers. A simple, repeated expression of gratitude for blessings bestowed is buoyed by hand-clapping, foot-tapping spiritual enthusiasm—direct, rhythmic, compelling, and timeless—that is as much a trademark of the Chicago gospel choir as marching up the middle aisle in colorful robes. In 2017, the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 16, 2015

“Up and Praise Em” Judah Band Xist Music (2015) www.xistmusic.com It’s hard not to be drawn in by the irresistible polyrhythms and the shoulder-rolling zoot suit feel of this mid-tempo rouser by the Judah Band. The lyrics are a simple call to get on one’s feet and praise, but the music all but compels one to clap hands and start moving in the spirit. Hailing from Indiana, the Judah Band looks for all the world like a Christian version of P-Funk, and bends music genres with the same brashness as George Clinton and company.  The Judah Band was founded in ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 9, 2015

“Yes Lord Yes” Pastor Paul Ruffin & the Forge Temple COGIC Sanctuary Choir From the Heavenly Spirit Music CD Yes Lord (2014) www.cdbaby.com/cd/pastorpaulruffinpresents Using the Church of God in Christ’s signature “Yes Lord” chant as its springboard, Pastor Paul Ruffin and the Forge Temple COGIC Sanctuary Choir of Birmingham, Alabama, construct a gospel piece out of a staccato declaration to serve the Lord. Vetrea Slack Ruffin, of the singing Ruffin Family, directs the Forge Temple choir and wrote this song, which features enough bluesy spots and classic chord progressions to pierce the heart of any traditionalist. Yes, Virginia, old school gospel ...

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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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