Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: October 20, 2014

“Take It to the Lord in Prayer” Patrick Lundy & the Ministers of Music (2014) From the CD Majesty: A Recording of Anthems, Hymns, and Spirituals www.plundymom.com Incorporating the semi-classical flourishes of Richard Smallwood and Donald Lawrence, Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music give Rev. Nolan Williams’ “Take It to the Lord In Prayer” a lush, restorative reading.  The voices rise and fall with the effortlessness of breathing. Though the melody is different, the lyrics pull verses from Joseph Scriven’s nineteenth-century hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Lundy and the MOM proclaim, “Some things we have not ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: October 13, 2014

“Hallelujah” Jewell & Converted From the Malaco CD For Real www.malaco.com “Hallelujah” is an up-tempo praiser from St. Louis-based female quartet Jewell & Converted. About a third of the way through, the lead singer gets downright Pentecostal, shouting and squalling about how she wants to “get her praise out,” then performs an extended call-and-response with the rest of the ladies, who maintain steady rhythmic harmonies. The musicians provide the quintessential hip-slapping accompaniment, complete with drum/bass backbeat and organ flourishes. A show stopper. Jewell & Converted organized in 2001 and is comprised of Jewell Taylor, Lydia Jones, Ni’Asia Hatch-Boyd, and Bablen ...

Read More »

JGM’s Pick of the Week: October 6, 2014

“The Greater” J. Grant Thompson Available on iTunes and other digital outlets on October 7, 2014 “The Greater” is the debut single from Washington, DC singer, songwriter, producer, and PK J. Grant Thompson. A notable debut it is. It is the gorgeous arrangement that imbues this lyrically and musically uncomplicated P&W anthem with its distinctive character. Thompson establishes an effective call and response with the background vocalists. I can imagine “The Greater” becoming just as popular with praise teams as songs by William McDowell and VaShawn Mitchell.

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: September 29, 2014

“Alright OK” J Moss PMG Gospel (released May 2014) If Pharrell Williams hit it with “Happy,” the feel good song of 2014, J Moss has the equally peppy “Alright OK.” An acoustic piano introduces a jaunty pop melody as J Moss explains how he focuses on the good and lets the bad roll right off his back. Knowing that God is watching out for him on the sunny as well as the rainy days, he concludes, “I won’t complain even if I could.” Produced by PAJAM, “Alright OK” is the singer’s most engaging single in some time.

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: September 22, 2014

“Made It Through the Storm” Pastor David Wright & the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir From the Godfather Records album Next Generation Working as both metaphor and a literal celebration of surviving Hurricane Sandy, Pastor David Wright and the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir sing “Made It Through the Storm,” a testament to how they made it through the storm and flood. “This ain’t New Orleans, but we made it through a hurricane, too,” shouts Pastor Wright, as the holy horns of the Seal Breakers, a shout band with roots in the United House of Prayer for All People, give the proceedings ...

Read More »

The Journal’s Pick of the Week: September 15, 2014

“The Blood Medley” Kathy Taylor From the forthcoming CD Spirit of a Grateful People www.kathytaylorlive.com A medley of blood songs and the multi-hued voice of Kathy Taylor go together like bacon and eggs. Taylor sings the notes off the staff on this slow burner, which demonstrates the singer’s vibrant interplay with the live audience. She croons, shouts, and squalls to accompaniment that includes a warmly warbling B3 and drum crashes like lightning strikes. Taylor’s interpolation of Andrae Crouch’s “The Blood Will Never Lose It’s Power” is a preaching moment. The medley could have gone on even longer. Kathy Taylor currently ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: September 8, 2014

“Mighty God” Valerie Woodard (2014) www.valeriewoodard.com Melding an ‘80s R&B musical background to a decidedly contemporary melody, much like the Clark Sisters who she cites as an inspiration, Valerie Rogers Woodard expresses her admiration for God with an infectious, shoulder-shaking rhythm. The wordless interjection in the chorus is guaranteed to get audiences singing and dancing along with her. The song is based on Psalm 150, so that is appropriate. The singer-songwriter lives in Wilson, North Carolina, and is currently preparing her sophomore project, Relationship II: Closer.

Read More »

TBGB Pick of the Week: September 1, 2014

“Deep Down” Kendra Smith From the DeVine Records Management CD Something New (2014) www.kendrasmith.org Independent artists fuel the future of gospel music. Without their hunger and desire to be heard, the genre would be in perpetual danger of stagnating. Proof positive: seventeen-year-old Kendra Smith of Florence, South Carolina. The 2012 South Carolina Music Awards Gospel Artist of the Year and Rhythm of Gospel Award nominee, indie artist Smith is a young woman with a commanding voice and confident presence. Her new single, “Deep Down,” has an old soul but a modern beat.  Smith has the love of Jesus “way down, deep down ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: August 25, 2014

“A Lil’ Louder (Clap Your Hands)” Rance Allen Group Tyscot Records (2014) www.tyscot.com A gospel trio that was blurring the barriers between the music of Saturday night and Sunday morning in the late 1960s, the Rance Allen Group returns to the funky style that brought them national attention with “A Lil’ Louder (Clap Your Hands).” From the thudding bass line to Rance’s trademark shouts of spiritual ecstasy and sanctified scatting, the song encourages every listener to get on up and worship. Dance, clap your hands, stomp your feet, raise your voice, and scream, sing the group, all to punctuation from the ...

Read More »

Pick of the Week: August 11, 2014

“Your Destiny” Kevin LeVar & One Sound From Destiny Live at the Dream Center and More… (album release date: August 12, 2014) www.kevinlevar.com Inspirational balladeer Kevin LeVar has sung his way into the hearts of many with such lovely selections as “A Heart That Forgives,” “You Are Not Alone,” and “We’re Just Getting Started,” which he wrote for his own nuptials. “Your Destiny,” from Kevin LeVar & One Sound’s new CD, Live at the Dream Center and More… is fashioned in much the same formula: easy pop melody (evocative of early Seal), dramatic delivery, and lyrics that encourage strength in ...

Read More »