Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: November 23, 2015

“He’s Been Good” Dr. A. Edward Davis Jr. & St. John Mass Choir (feat. Omar Kane) Pure Sound Music Group (release date: September 22, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/draedwarddavisjr With “He’s Been Good,” the St. John Mass Choir echoes the rousing gospel choirs of Chicago’s Fellowship M.B., Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer, and Christian Tabernacle churches, and the famed Thompson Community Singers. A simple, repeated expression of gratitude for blessings bestowed is buoyed by hand-clapping, foot-tapping spiritual enthusiasm—direct, rhythmic, compelling, and timeless—that is as much a trademark of the Chicago gospel choir as marching up the middle aisle in colorful robes. In 2017, the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 16, 2015

“Up and Praise Em” Judah Band Xist Music (2015) www.xistmusic.com It’s hard not to be drawn in by the irresistible polyrhythms and the shoulder-rolling zoot suit feel of this mid-tempo rouser by the Judah Band. The lyrics are a simple call to get on one’s feet and praise, but the music all but compels one to clap hands and start moving in the spirit. Hailing from Indiana, the Judah Band looks for all the world like a Christian version of P-Funk, and bends music genres with the same brashness as George Clinton and company.  The Judah Band was founded in ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 9, 2015

“Yes Lord Yes” Pastor Paul Ruffin & the Forge Temple COGIC Sanctuary Choir From the Heavenly Spirit Music CD Yes Lord (2014) www.cdbaby.com/cd/pastorpaulruffinpresents Using the Church of God in Christ’s signature “Yes Lord” chant as its springboard, Pastor Paul Ruffin and the Forge Temple COGIC Sanctuary Choir of Birmingham, Alabama, construct a gospel piece out of a staccato declaration to serve the Lord. Vetrea Slack Ruffin, of the singing Ruffin Family, directs the Forge Temple choir and wrote this song, which features enough bluesy spots and classic chord progressions to pierce the heart of any traditionalist. Yes, Virginia, old school gospel ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 19, 2015

“Hear Us” Maurice Griffin MGM Chicago Music Group www.mauricegriffinonline.com Maurice Griffin went from being in the Chicago-based gospel group New Direction to winning the Gospel Music Workshop of America Gospel Treasure competition in 2007, then to being a finalist on Season Two of BET’s Sunday Best. He was nominated for a 2013 Stellar Award for Best Artist of the Year. Part of the reason for Griffin’s upward trajectory is his vocal agility and capacity to read a praise lyric with just the right mix of conviction and pacing. He demonstrates all of this on “Hear Us,” a single that he released last ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 12, 2015

“You Should Have Been There” Virginia Aires www.VirginiaAires.com The Virginia Aires’s new single is a mid-tempo rouser with a backbeat that exudes the sheer joy of personal salvation. The before and after effects of being saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost is a familiar narrative in gospel music. It nearly always receives the spirited vocal and musical treatment that the Virginia Aires employ, and for good reason.  When “your feet get light,” it’s no time for contemplation or drama. About midway through the vamp, the quartet shifts from the personal to the communal, asking how many in the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 5, 2015

“My Son” Okey Sokay From the forthcoming Orangeville Music album Revealed https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/my-son-single/id1042589852 This week’s pick takes us to the Ebonyi State of Nigeria and an artist named Okechukwu Dickson, who goes by the stage name of Okey Sokay. “My Son” is a tuneful, piano-driven solo on God’s fatherly compassion, written in an American contemporary gospel style and sung in English. If you “open up the door to your heart,” sings Okey Sokay in the guise of the Lord God, “I will never let you fall, I’ll catch you…because I love you…I know how you feel right now, but I promise ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 28, 2015

“The Story of Love” 6th Day Made www.6thdaymade.com Wonder what U2 would sound like as a Christian rock band? Look no further than “The Story of Love” by 6th Day Made. Mark Maggard’s thickly layered guitar, Jason Eaton’s tenor vocals hurled skyward, and the marching band rhythm of Randy Healy and Jeff Trent bring the Dublin dynamos vividly to mind. Lyrically, the Michigan band paints a portrait of love as arms stretched outward on a cross and offers an apocryphal message by imploring the listener to “let the world hear, let the world know….it won’t be long.” This is the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 21, 2015

“Love Vs. the World” Xavier O’Connor Testimony Records (2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/xavieroconnor2 With its finger-popping beat and modern big band sound, “Love Vs. the World” pits protagonist Xavier O’Connor against a variety of anthropomorphic emotions, including jealousy, fear, and hate, that invade his space like comic book villains. But alas, just as Jesus defeated Satan, our man whips the negative emotions with that crazy little thing called love. Xavier O’Connor hails from Delray Beach, Florida. A product of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, O’Connor took classical music lessons, and attended a fine arts high school and Oakwood College. He wrote, produced, recorded, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 14, 2015

“Have You Been Shook” The Sons of the Soul Revivers (2015) https://www.facebook.com/TheSonsOfTheSoulReviversOfSanFranciscoCA San Francisco quartet The Sons of the Soul Revivers barrels down in fourth gear on the drive tempo “Have You Been Shook,” singing with the alacrity of their predecessors, the Soul Revivers. Eschewing electronic keys, programmed drums, etc. for raw propulsion from electric guitar, real drum skins, bass, and shouting vocals, the Sons even sound like the former group. The main phrase is one that actually works better in the passive voice: “Have you been shook by the hand of God?”  The song must do well at live ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 7, 2015

“So Good” Melvin Williams feat. Dottie Peoples From the forthcoming album Where I Started From www.MelvinWilliams.net Melvin Williams of the Williams Brothers quartet joins the fiery Dottie Peoples in a bluesy gospel “take ‘em to church” moment. The Stan Jones-produced “So Good” is a litany of the many ways God has been good to His people throughout the ages, today, and into the future. By mid-recording, the two singers turn downright evangelistic, instructing the listener in urgent, direct tones to mind well their words. Someone who can “rescue Daniel from the lion’s den,” “turn water into wine” and “give eyesight ...

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