Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: June 22, 2015

“Something About That Name” Lorraine Stancil Anointed Sounds Records (2015) I’m rather stoked about the recent release of so many traditional-style gospel singles, including this one by Psalmist Lorraine Stancil-Lawson. Product of the Pentecostal church, Psalmist Stancil is known to kick off her shoes just like Shirley Caesar, and on “Something About that Name,” she shouts and squalls like Pastor Caesar in full throes of sanctified passion. Stancil’s call and response with the background vocalists/choir heightens the tension to the point where she emits a couple of dog whistle soprano notes. Also like Caesar, Lorraine Stancil-Lawson has entered the ministry. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 15, 2015

“I’ll Stand” Lady Voncile feat. Pastor R. L. Bush http://gloryboundrecords.bigcartel.com To the whirring of an organ and sassy opening licks from a guitar and piano, Lady Voncile Belcher delivers this church-ready solo about faith with flatfooted conviction. She hands the microphone to the Reverend R. L. Bush, who gives the verse a thorough working over in his preacher/quartet leader rasp. Later, they duet while the background vocalists reply antiphonally. If this performance was recorded live, you’d hear the saints in the background, shouting encouragement. The release concert for her latest CD, Phenomenal, on which “I’ll Stand” is included, takes place ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 8, 2015

“I’ll Make It All Right” Trish Standley From the forthcoming Jan’s Joy CD No One Else www.trishstandley.com Gospel thrush and fashionista Trish Standley covers the Beautiful Zion Missionary Baptist Church Choir of Chicago’s 1973 hit, “I’ll Make It All Right,” with all of the joyous soulful funkiness of the original. The backing group hand claps as Standley delivers the encouraging message, weaving melodic lines in her upper register. Standley didn’t have to do much more than reprise the original to make it musically relevant because it was ahead of its time when it was released more than 40 years ago. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 25, 2015

“In His Hands” The McDonald Sisters Ra-Ola Music Inc. (release date: April 1, 2015) A family group with more than 30 years of gospel singing experience, the McDonald Sisters of Fayetteville, North Carolina, continue to represent traditional gospel quartet with their new single, “In His Hands.” To an aisle-walking, handclapping tempo propelled by distinctive southern soulfulness, the ladies put their burdens and their deliverance in God’s hands. They instruct listeners to do the same. They know whereof they speak. Members Valerie, Deborah, Evelyn, Pamela, and matriarch Priscilla have survived cancer, a stroke, and a ruptured appendix, among other challenges. The ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 18, 2015

“Hero” AsOne feat. Lamar Campbell & Spirit of Praise From the Capital Christian Music Group CD AsOne (release date: May 23, 2015) www.asoneofficial.com By Bob Marovich Lisa Wright and Theresa Bailey are AsOne, billed as the first interracial gospel duo. Backed by the estimable strength of Lamar Campbell & Spirit of Praise, “Hero” is the duo’s brisk, melodic paean to God as the ultimate warrior and superhero. Neither of the ladies is a stranger to gospel music. Wright has written songs for the likes of the Colorado Mass Choir and Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Bailey, also a songwriter, is an experienced ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 12, 2015

“All My Help” Pharis Evans Jr. & Loved Ones From the Fountain of Life CD Due Season www.facebook.com/fountainofliferecords Grammy- and Stellar-nominated singer, songwriter, and producer Pharis Evans Jr. comes from great musical stock—his uncle is Rev. Dr. Clay Evans and his father is Rev. Pharis Evans Sr. ‘Nuff said. Not surprisingly, “All My Help” is a churchy offering. It has a bouncy rhythm, simple lyrics, a playful call and response between Pharis and the choir, a quartet-worthy vamp, and a cameo by Rev. Dr. Clay Evans. It’s all part of the family tradition and part of Pharis’s own commitment to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 5, 2015

“I Need U” Criss Righteous Rank 1 Entertainment Mention the name Criss “Righteous” Johnson to those in the know, and they will tell you he is a skillful accompanist who has worked with gospel quartets for decades.  He even served as the longtime guitarist for Pastor Shirley Caesar. With “I Need U,” Criss Righteous breaks with tradition by stepping up to the mike as a solo artist. Well, not a total break with tradition—the song bleeds quartet soul, even if the beat is contemporary. Soloist or not, Criss growls that he needs Jesus, because “I can’t make it all by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 27, 2015

“Just Jesus” Bishop Jonathan Greer Released February 3, 2015 Now when is the last time you heard “Just Jesus” sung as a single? Thank God for Bishop Jonathan Greer II and his choir. They righteously reprise the good old Zion song, which Greer did originally with the Cathedral of Faith Choirs in 1994. The new version comes complete with shouting vamp and rocking chair 12/8 meter. Raised in Chicago, Bishop Jonathan Greer was called to ministry, first in Nashville, then Atlanta, where he is currently Presiding Bishop of Divine Love Fellowship Church. While at Cathedral of Faith, Greer and the Cathedral ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 20, 2015

“But God” Pastor Judge Gardner Jr. presents The Voices of Testimony Ensemble Twitter: @LTMCHICAGO Who can resist a hand-clapping choir rouser, Chicago style? I sure can’t. “But God” by the Voices of Testimony Ensemble from the Living Testimony Church on Chicago’s Southeast Side (Judge Gardner Jr., Pastor) satisfies the appetite for a pulse-quickening pewburner. Lead vocalist Lil’ Harry sings, shouts, and wails his gratitude for God’s faithfulness in his life as the choir repeats his lines and at the end chants “But God” with metronomic steadiness like the Chicago Mass Choir. “I could have been dead, sleeping in my grave…but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 13, 2015

“I Am Free” Ladell Cole From the CD I Am Free www.cdbaby.com/cd/ladellcole2 Singer-songwriter Ladell Cole lofts falsetto notes over this gentle, hand waving anthem of eternal gratitude to Jesus for the price he paid to purchase the world’s freedom. The melody is lovely and the key change adds just the right amount of punch to the concluding chorus. Ladell Cole is worship pastor at Christ Fellowship Church in Tampa, Florida, and organizer of the city’s popular Worship United celebration.  The song is the title track from Cole’s sophomore album, released last August.

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