Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: August 20, 2018

“Oh How I Love You” Zacardi Cortez Blacksmoke Music Worldwide (release date: March 8, 2018) By Bob Marovich “You see, a man ain’t supposed to cry,” Zacardi Cortez sings on “Oh How I Love You,” but the tears flow anyhow as he delivers lyrics that gush with gratitude to Jesus for, well, everything. And while Cortez admits to falling prey to the very human interest in material things, “at the end of the day,” nothing matters but Jesus. This mid-tempo song opens with a blithe piano and expands into a delicious mix of retro soul and urban AC. Cortez’s vocals ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 13, 2018

“With All My Heart” Marlon McDaniel M2 Music (release date: August 4, 2016) www.marlonmcdaniel.com By Bob Marovich Accompanied only by piano, gospel singer-songwriter Marlon McDaniel delivers a delicate ballad of praise in “With All My Heart.” The song’s audience-melting sweetness earned the Ohio singer from the Church of God in Christ two Rhythm of Gospel Awards this summer: Best Performance by a Male Artist, and Praise & Worship Male Vocalist of the Year. With its lovely melody and uncomplicated lyrics, “With All My Heart” allows so much space for vocal improvisation that gospel singers who hear it will be dying to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 7, 2018

“I Owe God a Praise” Jimmy Hicks & ACOJ From the Blacksmoke Music Worldwide album Waterway (release date: August 4, 2017) By Bob Marovich What I like about Jimmy Hicks is how he can transform a church song into what sounds like a big number from a gospel musical. Hicks and his Voices of Integrity did that with 2006’s “Born Blessed” and “This Kind By Fasting and Prayer.” He has done it again with “I Owe God a Praise,” an effervescent hand-clapper featuring call-and-response with the Apostolic Church of Jesus (ACOJ) Choir and Hicks’s favorite singing duet partner, Diana Hicks. The ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 30, 2018

“Give It All to Him” The Oladipo Sisters From The Rebirth (release date: June 10, 2018) www.oladiposisters.com By Bob Marovich Boston’s Oladipo Sisters—nineteen-year-old Oladunni and seventeen-year-old Olayeni-make a joyful noise on “Give It All to Him.” Though born in Massachusetts, the sisters’ combination British and Nigerian heritage is on display in the song’s simple melody and harmonies, and its lyrics of praise and worship. Their American experience comes through their gospel vocal techniques, including some delightfully improvised soprano notes at the end. The song is on the sisters’ sophomore project, The Rebirth, which follows their 2011 debut The Mighty One and a couple ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 23, 2018

“Even Louder” Steven Malcolm feat. Leeland From the IVAV (Word Entertainment) EP The Second City, Pt. 2 (release date: June 8, 2018) www.StevenMalcolm.com By Bob Marovich “Even Louder,” written by Steven Malcolm and Leeland Mooring, blends musical understatement with Malcolm’s declarative rap about the many wonders of salvation. Its lullaby-like melody, incessant beat, atmospheric swirl of background voices (courtesy of Christian worship band Leeland), and string-laden interlude combine to create a captivating conclusion to Malcolm’s second in a four-part EP series called The Second City. From Grand Rapids, Michigan, Steven Malcolm is part Jamaican and celebrates his roots on the EP ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 16, 2018

“Holy Ghost” Frozene Lott Hayes LotHay Music (2018) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich You can be certain that a song titled “Holy Ghost” is going to be a church burner, and Frozene Hayes delivers on this promise. Supported by a chugging band and a choir of BGVs, Hayes sings about the exhilaration of salvation like a veteran church soloist. She has that deliciously raspy alto voice that can make “Happy Birthday to You” sound sanctified. She sang a live version of “Holy Ghost” at last month’s Rhythm of Gospel Awards, where it was named Traditional Song of the Year. It brought ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 2, 2018

“Chainbreaker” Angela “Missy” Billups E’Mazin Entertainment (release date: May 15, 2018) Available digitally By Bob Marovich New York-based singer Angela “Missy” Billups is known for both traditional church wreckers and rhythmic praise ballads. Her latest single, “Chainbreaker,” is right in the middle in terms of tempo, while the lyrics are consistent with the message she has sung at a variety of speeds: that God can release us from the physical and emotional chains that bind us. But you gotta believe. “Chainbreaker,” which Billups sang to an appreciative audience at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards ceremony last month, was produced by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 25, 2018

“Enter His Gates” Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music From the New Day Distribution CD By Faith www.plundymom.com By Bob Marovich Minister Patrick Lundy’s musical instruction in the gospel and classical worlds are in evidence on the robust church rouser “Enter His Gates.” Taking its text from Psalm 100:4, the song features full production, a solid backbeat, and stirring singing that evokes Ricky Dillard’s work. The song belongs as much to the choir as to the single’s fiery lead singers, Beverly Reynolds and Jacqulyn Sanders. The album version transitions into a praise break—‘nuff said! The Georgia-born director and songwriter Lundy honed ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 18, 2018

“Are You Ready” Jason Champion My Block Records (release date: October 27, 2017) By Bob Marovich To a mid-tempo boogie-woogie rhythm, gospel singer Jason Champion asks the ultimate salvation question: are you ready for Jesus when He comes? He then lets loose with a couple of Sam Cooke yodels and declares he’s ready – in fact, he already has his bags packed. Now that’s ready. The song’s loose and engaging doo-wop drive is given Technicolor treatment in Derek Banks’ video, which depicts Champion dressed in retro clothes, driving a retro car, and playing a retro upright piano at an old farmhouse in ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 11, 2018

“If God” Casey J From the forthcoming Tyscot album The Gathering (single release date: June 25, 2018) www.tyscot.com Bob Marovich As a schoolteacher, Casey J has had to ask lots of hard questions. So it’s not surprising that on her new single, “If God,” she wonders aloud why there is still cancer, still violence, and “so much disease.” More questions than answers, certainly, but she and her background vocalists find solace in the question posed in Romans 8:31: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Seemingly based on an old hymn melody, the song riffs on the ...

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