Pick of the Week

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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JGM Pick of the Week: June 5, 2017

“I Am Blessed” MarQuez Curtis feat. Tiffanie “Tutu” Agee Mary Elizabeth Music Group (2017) By Bob Marovich For those wondering what Tiffanie “Tutu” Agee of the Truthettes has been up to lately, it’s joining MarQuez Curtis in giving effusive testimony for blessings bestowed by God—blessings that neither singer takes for granted. That’s the premise of “I Am Blessed,” a spirited hand-clapper that blends the sleekness of contemporary gospel with the churchiness of quartet singing, complete with a vamp that could have gone on even longer. From Memphis, Tennessee, MarQuez Curtis attends Light of Glory International Church (LOGIC) under the leadership ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 29, 2017

“He Won’t Let You Down” Victoria Brown From the album Journey (release date: May 2, 2017) www.victoriabrownministries.com By Bob Marovich Hearing “He Won’t Let You Down” leaves no doubt that traditional gospel is in Victoria Brown’s DNA. Brown travels from sweet to shout on this bluesy and evangelistic selection. It is as much an internal conversation about inaccurate past assumptions as a directive to the listener that only God can make things right. The song’s vamp gives Brown space to extemporize, which I imagine pulls audiences out of their seat in affirmation whenever Brown sings it live. No stranger to the recording process, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 22, 2017

“Lord, You’ve Been Good to Me” Tim Woodson & the Heirs of Harmony Peacock Music Group (release date: April 11, 2017) www.peacockmusicgroup.com By Bob Marovich With their version of a gospel quartet classic recorded in 1961 by the Original Five Blind Boys (and credited to the late Lloyd Woodard), Tim Woodson & the Heirs of Harmony give a contemporary touch to what is otherwise a straight ahead old-school sound. The track opens with a low-volume and stripped down version of the song and then transitions, as from black and white to color, into the Heirs of Harmony’s version. “Lord, You’ve Been Good to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 17, 2017

“You Can Call on Jesus” Donnie, Darryl & the Joyboyz From the JSound Records album He Did It (release date: October 21, 2016) By Bob Marovich From Nashville, Tennessee, Donnie and Darryl Frierson are known as the “smallest men in gospel” because they each hit four-and-a-half feet tall and not much more than that. But good things come in small packages, and the brothers prove it on the 2016 selection, “You Can Call on Jesus.”  It’s a joyous Sunday morning shouting song with a quartet backbeat that has the live recording audience clapping along. The Friersons sing the encouraging word ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 1, 2017

“In His Presence” Geneatha Wright Feat. the Bible Faith Tabernacle Choir and Denise Renee Godfather Records (release date: March 27, 2017) www.cdbaby.com/cd/geneathawright2 By Bob Marovich First Lady Geneatha Wright gives her all to “In His Presence,” a simple, sweet ballad written by her husband, Pastor David Wright, about being where Jesus is because where Jesus is, there is peace, freedom, and liberty. Together with the Bible Faith Tabernacle Choir and soloist Denise Renee, Wright builds the intensity of the song until it ends in fiery evangelistic shouting. The instruments drop out at one point to accentuate the singing.  “In His ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 25, 2017

“He’s the One” Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Pastor Walter E. Ellis From the album Kainos (The Acoustic Documentary) Puretonez Production/eOne Distribution (release date: September 2016) www.monicalisastevenson.com By Bob Marovich Those who appreciate the fiery traditional singing of Monica Lisa Stevenson, the proverbial fifth Caravan, will be slightly taken aback by her softer, gentler, and overall acoustic approach to “He’s the One.” I say slightly taken aback because “Try Jesus (He’s the One)” is not a new song: MLS’s father and uncles, who had formed a quartet, sang it on their programs. It’s a traditional song.  Only the smooth arrangement and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 17, 2017

“Touch Me” Ronica & the Blazing Stars MoDa Records (2017) RonicaTheBlazingStars@gmail.com By Bob Marovich “Touch Me” by Ronica & the Blazing Stars has the relentless up-tempo quartet backbeat and chugging guitars that recall the days when standard musical accompaniment and Holy Ghost-inspired singing were all you needed to move a congregation and shout the glory down. From Mooresville, North Carolina, lead singer Ronica Bowers evokes gospel stompers Evelyn Turrentine-Agee and Dottie Peoples. During the vamp, she cries out for anointing “in this mean old world” so she is healed and can sing and shout right (she does a pretty good ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 12, 2017

“Forever Mercy” Lamont Sanders Independent release, October 2015 www.lamontsanders.com On “Forever Mercy,” New Jersey singer and songwriter Lamont Sanders—a self-described mashup of John P. Kee and Luther Vandross—contributes his combined experience in church music and R&B to this deftly-produced ballad that extols the grace and mercy of Jesus. Sanders not only gives thanks for that grace and mercy, but he seeks an invitation to discipleship because, after all, “we are nothing without you.” The repeated line, “Hallelujah Jesus, your mercy endures forever” gives the ballad its P&W moment and makes for an ideal congregational singalong in a worship service or ...

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