Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: August 29, 2017

“Higher Place” Angelo and Veronica From the forthcoming A & V Music CD The Truth http://angeloandveronica.com/ By Bob Marovich In 1992, fresh on the scene and armed with training from Berklee College of Music, contemporary Christian singing duo Angelo and Veronica released their first album, Higher Place, on A & M Records. Among the songs they co-wrote for their debut disc was the title track, a song about a “place where you can just be you.” Luring the listener with the lyric line, “You take me to a higher place / You take me to a place I’ve never been ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 21, 2017

“Too Hard Not To” Tina Campbell Malaco Music Group / Gee Tee Creative (2017) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Tina Campbell’s new single, “Too Hard Not To,” feels like an intimate girlfriend-to-girlfriend conversation about the difficulty, and also the importance, of forgiving and forgetting. The intimacy not only comes from the song’s lyric, but also from the stripped down acoustic piano accompaniment. Delivering the lovely melody with grace and tenderness, Campbell reminds the listener that no matter how bad a situation gets, no matter how hard it is to forgive those who have done the unthinkable to you, there’s “someone so loving and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 14, 2017

“Well Done” Ernest J. Lee feat. Donnie Tuck From Anthems from the Vault Vol. 1 www.ernestjleemusic.org By Bob Marovich Ernest J. Lee’s “Well Done” drops a fetching quartet backbeat and a drive tempo behind the two words every Christian hopes to hear upon entering the Pearly Gates: well done. The husky-voiced Donnie Tuck and a group of female background vocalists more than assist the Detroiter on this joyous old-school-meets-new-school evocation of the happy hereafter for the saved, sanctified, and Holy Ghost filled. It’s all about joy and shouting victory because there’s no night there. “Now put your hands together one ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 1, 2017

“It Pays to Serve Jesus” Lady LaVarnga Hubbard Utopia Music Group (2017) Available from digital media stores By Bob Marovich No matter how many vocalists travel down the P&W path, you can count on Lady LaVarnga Hubbard, the Duchess of Gospel, to keep delivering church rousers the old-school way. “It Pays to Serve Jesus” is the latest single (and the third) pulled from Hubbard’s album, Better Is Coming, released on Bishop Larry Trotter’s Utopia Music Group. True to form, the Duchess glides along the backbeat, inviting listeners to sidestep the static and remember that following Christ is the route to solving ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 24, 2017

“I Give You Praise” Robert E. Person feat. Richard Smallwood From the forthcoming REP album Classic Covers www.roberteperson.com By Bob Marovich Covering Richard Smallwood’s composition “I Give You Praise” is commendable. Having the maestro himself accompany on piano is inspired. Originally released by Smallwood on his 1989 album Portrait (Word Entertainment), “I Give You Praise” combines the drama of high theater with the passion of high church in offering plaudits to the Most High. Vocalist Robert E. Person’s classical training is in evidence on this version from the quiet opening to the expansive coda. Roderick Giles & Grace, who accompanied Bryan Andrew Wilson ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 17, 2017

“Grace” Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago feat. Le’Andria Johnson Inspired People, LLC (release date: July 7, 2017) Available from digital media outlets By Bob Marovich Pastor Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago’s “Grace” feels like a quicker-tempo version of Kirk Franklin’s “I Smile” with its plinky piano, chirpy melody, finger-popping rhythm, and unison singing. The choir declares that they don’t look like what they’ve been through, and it’s because of God’s favor. God has brought them from a mighty long way. They’re blessed by the best. Then Le’Andria Johnson jumps in and drops a healthy helping of righteous southern soul on ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 11, 2017

“So Good” Bri (Release date: June 9, 2017) Available from digital music outlets By Bob Marovich When on “So Good” Bri (Briana Babineaux) sings “God’s been so good to me,” there are plenty of reasons for her to express that sentiment. In a relatively short period of time, she went from unknown to YouTube sensation to Billboard-charting artist to multiple Stellar Award winner. But here, she focuses instead on the victory God has given her over the metaphorical shackles that once bound her down spiritually. Her newest single is buoyed by a quick-step tempo and BGVs that return every ounce ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 3, 2017

“Grace & Mercy” Tamika Patton feat. Min. Earl Bynum Available on iTunes and other Digital Media www.TamikaPatton.com By Bob Marovich On the independent single, “Grace & Mercy,” Tamika Patton proclaims her gratitude to God for his unconditional love and forgiveness. Such compassion, given “to a wretch like me,” has inspired her to pass it forward. The song’s carefree arrangement and mid-tempo two-step rhythm echo Patton’s exhilaration. She and featured guest vocalist Minister Earl Bynum, who joins halfway through, complement one another well. Their melodic voices, gilded with gospel grit, have a tangy blend, like salt and vinegar, as they go ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 27, 2017

“Fly Away” Shonda English feat. Dorothy Norwood Available at digital music stores www.shondaenglish.com By Bob Marovich It might be intimidating to duet with a legend such as Dorothy Norwood, but to Shonda English, The Storyteller of Gospel is “Aunt Dot.” It was “Aunt Dot,” in fact, who brought Bob Jeffreys and Sanchez Harley’s easy-going, bittersweet “Fly Away” to her attention. Good timing. English was just getting over the loss of her father, Bishop W. T. English, and needed some inspirational cheering up. “Fly Away” fit the bill. Reflecting on the day they will fly away to the resting place where ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 14, 2017

“Alabaster Box” Lillie Nicole McCloud From the album Red Apples (release date: May 27, 2015) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/lillienicolemccloud By Bob Marovich In 2013, Lillie Nicole McCloud of Orlando, Florida, wowed all four judges and the entire audience on Season 3 of the television competition show The X Factor with her rendition of CeCe Winans’ lovely Biblical ballad, “Alabaster Box.” McCloud’s dramatic pacing channels the late Whitney Houston and captures the gravitas of the story in Matthew about the woman who anoints Jesus’s head with oil. But the song, which highlights the tale’s message about the power of worship and salvation, also has strains ...

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