Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: January 19, 2015

“You Are” Virtue www.virtuegirls3.com Who said America has lost its Virtue? Nearly a decade has lapsed since their last release, but the Dove Award-winning and Grammy-nominated sister ensemble Virtue has returned with a new single, “You Are.” Set in the same rich urban AC groove that marked the group’s prior work, albeit updated to meet contemporary tastes, “You Are” is a dramatic declaration of fidelity to God, “the alpha and omega” who promises light at the end of life’s dark tunnels. The 2015 iteration of Virtue that recorded “You Are” is Ebony Holland, Karima Kibble, and Heather Martin. The women sound ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 12, 2015

“Brand New Day” 21:03 From the PMG Gospel CD Outsiders (release date: February 24, 2015) www.pajam-music.com What better way to start the new year than to celebrate a brand new day? That is what the two who now comprise 21:03—Evin Martin and Torrence Greene—do on “Brand New Day.” An energetic disco beat and brisk arrangement complement the duo as they play off one another in kicking all bad things to the curb and embracing new beginnings by faith. The song comes nearly twelve years after the Stellar Award-winning group’s launch, January 21, 2003, the date that also inspired its name.

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 30, 2014

“Can You Feel His Glory” foreverJONES From Prayer Tools, Vol. 1 (released November 2014) www.foreverjones.com Turns out that the shortest song on the two-and-a-half-hour Prayer Tools Vol. 1 by foreverJONES is the best. With only piano and organ as accompaniment, Djeniele evokes the majesty of yesterday’s church soloists with her flawless reading of her brother Judah Jones’ s “Can You Feel His Glory.” From its hushed opening and D’jeniele (Jones) Hooten’s increasingly expansive vocals to the achingly beautiful conclusion, this exquisite jewel of a hymn—one of the finest released this year—demonstrates how less is more.

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 24, 2014

“Lord I Just Wanna Thank You” Pastor Tyrone Jefferson From Taking It Back to Church (2013) www.cdbaby.com/cd/pastortyronejefferson The title of Pastor Tyrone Jefferson’s album is Taking It Back to Church, and that is exactly what he does on the high-spirited “Lord I Just Wanna Thank You.” Jefferson puts his preacher’s whoop to work on this church-wrecking choir song with traditional quartet-style lyrics of gratitude. It’s a hand-clapping, tambourine-shaking good time. Pastor Tyrone G. Jefferson Jr., a young man with an old soul, is founder and pastor of Abundant Life Tabernacle Church, a Full Gospel Baptist Church on Franklin Avenue in ...

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JGM Christmas Pick of the Week: December 22, 2014

“Tis the Season for Miracles” Tarralyn Ramsey Nylarrat/Heartstrings Music (2014) www.tarralynramsey.com Tarralyn Ramsey translates the wonderment of Christmas  into a word of encouragement to people who don’t need presents under the tree—they need real miracles in their lives. Embellishing the melodramatic melody with melismatic runs from the Whitney Houston toolkit, Ramsey reminds the downhearted to keep steadfast in their belief: “Tis the season for miracles, tis the season for breakthrough.” Ramsey launches a note towards the end that is so high it may have taken out a star or two on its trajectory northward. Tarralyn Ramsey is a recording artist and the winner of the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 14, 2014

“Gonna Tell the World About You” Eddie Ruth Bradford From the CD Blessed to Be a Blessing www.eddieruthbradfordmusic.com Eddie Ruth Bradford’s latest single is deliciously old-school, complete with whirring organ, funky backbeat, and multi-tracked quartet of voices on the chorus. By referencing Bible stories that demonstrate Jesus’s ability to give eyesight to the blind and heal the sick, she sends encouragement to listeners struggling through life’s trials. Bradford evokes Mavis Staples with her world-weary contralto, as does the deep and rootsy arrangement supporting her. The Stellar-nominated Bradford hails from Clarksville, Mississippi. She sang with her family group as a child and had dreams of singing gospel ...

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“Blessing Me” – J. Nichole

“Blessing Me” J. Nichole From No More Running (released October 2014) www.myjnicholesong.com Juliet Nichole Jones, aka J. Nichole, has a huge, soulful voice that is equally suited for sacred and secular music. Her original aspiration was to sing pop, but when she rededicated herself to the church, gospel music won over. To a subtly thumping beat, the swaggering “Blessing Me” finds the singer declaring how she has received God’s blessings, despite her worthiness or unworthiness. Top-shelf production and a powerful voice combine to make this a stunning selection. From Pennsylvania, J. Nichole is the 2013 Newsome Award Winner and 2014 ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 8, 2014

“He’ll Make It Alright” Pastor Antoine Hutchins featuring the Christian Unity Choir From the CD He Still Loves Me (2014) www.cdbaby.com/cd/pastorantoinehutchins No doubt the members of Christian Unity Baptist Church in Waldorf, Maryland, shout whenever Pastor Antoine Hutchins and the Christian Unity Choir break out the churchy Tommies hit, “He’ll Make It Alright.” This old-school rouser about the power of the Lord to fix any problem is appropriately joyous. Hutchins calls, the choir answers, and the musicians drive the rollicking tempo. “Y’all might as well have some fun with this one,” declares Hutchins, and they do.

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 3, 2014

“Do Life Big” Jamie Grace From the Gotee album Ready to Fly (2014) www.gotee.com Isn’t it a pity and a shame how many in the gospel music community ignored Jamie Grace’s “Beautiful Day,” despite its longevity on the Billboard charts? It reminds me of how songstress Heather Headley won a Grammy for her worship masterpiece, Audience of One, yet the album made no noise at the Stellar Awards that year. Nevertheless, Grace’s new single, “Do Life Big” ought to help awaken more in the industry to the cheerful, life-embracing inspirational singer. Sugary-sweet pop beats support Grace’s effervescent vocals. “I came ...

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JGM Christmas Pick of the Week: November 29, 2014

“Share Some Love” The North Carolina Community Choir From A Malaco Christmas (2014) Malaco Records www.malaco.com The irresistible North Carolina Community Choir offers this easygoing reminder of the real reason for the season. A team of tuneful soloists handles the verses, the choir harmonizes on the chorus, and a saxophone adds jazzy fills as well as a solo in the middle. What was supposed to be a one-time recording gig for a group of singers in 2010 became the genesis of the North Carolina Community Choir.  The ensemble produced an album, A Story To Tell, that garnered five of five stars ...

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