Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: May 17, 2021

“He’s Working on Me” The McDuffies feat. Bishop Darrell McFadden From the Ruffboyzmusic Group LLC album The Legacy Continues (album release date: January 15, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich The McDuffies salute the memory of their brother Ricky McDuffie with a new album and single. The single, “He’s Working on Me,” is a driving selection with hard lead singing from quartet veteran Bishop Darrell McFadden. He does Ricky proud with his raw vocals, well-timed shouts, and a gospel chuckle tossed in for good measure. Every time he feels like throwing in the towel, McFadden sings, he remembers that he’s a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 10, 2021

“He’s Way Ahead of You” Denita Gibbs DGW Entertainment (release date: March 6, 2021) www.denitagibbs.com By Robert M. Marovich Now THIS is the Denita Gibbs I remember from her 2013 CD, Without You. The Birmingham, Alabama, native’s declarative vocals on “He’s Way Ahead of You” are locked in from the very start when she sings: “This world is crazy / Spinning out of control / People do the wildest things / And try to rob you of hope.” Having painted the painful scene, Gibbs then reminds the listener to refrain from bitterness because God promised that He’ll never leave you ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 3, 2021

“Be Alright” Friends aka Anointed Friends Thompson Records (release date: March 15, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich In “Be Alright,” the female quartet Friends (aka Anointed Friends) deliver a simple song of reassurance and encouragement to a driving countrified beat. The ladies pepper their lyrics with familiar church aphorisms (e.g., “He may not come when you want him but He’ll be on time”) and tag on an old-fashioned vamp designed to rouse anyone not already out of their seats. It all sounds straight out of the South, but the quartet actually hails from the New York City metropolitan area. Organized ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 26, 2021

“Come (Broken, Scarred)” Mary Ozaraga Independent (release date: January 3, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich There’s an orchestral ambience to Christian singer-songwriter Mary Ozaraga’s first single release, “Come (Broken, Scarred).” Ozaraga’s guitar emits droplets of notes as drums thump like marching feet and synthesized sounds float gently above the singer like cumulus clouds. Together, they set the ideal mood for Ozaraga’s lilting lyric about Jesus’s call to come, just as you are, no matter how broken, to the table. There is always room, she sings, for more to be forgiven and welcomed into the Kingdom. Mary Ozaraga is a worship ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 19, 2021

“The One” Jewell & Converted OverBoard Records (release date: April 9, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Those who appreciate joyous gospel quartet music will welcome “The One,” the latest single from the award-winning St. Louis quartet Jewell & Converted. Jewell Taylor leads the female quartet on a litany of examples of Jesus’s goodness and then transitions into the Passion. The ladies sing that if Jesus can be crucified, die, and rise from the grave, he can and will do anything for you. There’s much to enjoy here, from Taylor’s boisterous vocals and the group’s dynamic responses to heavy downbeats from ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 12, 2021

“Still Gon’ Trust” Joshua Rogers Mixed Bag Music Group, LLC (release date: March 19, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Joshua Rogers sums up the sentiments of most in the first few lines of his new single, “Still Gon’ Trust:” “It’s been quite a year / A test of my faith / I’ve seen some things that took my breath away.” On the chorus, however, Rogers responds with supreme confidence in the Creator: “I’m still gon’ trust in you.” The song’s simple but effective musical accompaniment, including slight blues turns on piano and strings soaring like seagulls over the sea, affirms ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 5, 2021

“Fighter” Patreka Wortham (release date: March 5, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich “Fighter” is sufficient confirmation why North Carolina gospel singer Patreka Wortham took home top honors at the 34th Annual Stellar Awards Independent Artist Showcase in 2019. Written, she told Buzzmusic, at a point in time when she was “experiencing a big dose of ‘life,’” “Fighter” became her “pep talk” to herself. But the declarative power in her voice overwhelms the mantra-like lyrics. Patreka Wortham isn’t just singing a song of liberation, she’s proclaiming to the devil with her whole existence that messing with her comes at a significant ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 30, 2021

“Saved and Sanctified” The Highway QCs feat. Spencer Taylor Jr. From Live at the 2021 Gospel Inaugural Celebration (release date: March 6, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich On the heels of his autobiography, A General Becomes a Legend, Godfather of Quartet Music Spencer Taylor Jr.  joins his fellow Highway QCs deliver an energetic old-school quartet number to a modern arrangement. The QCs are saved and sanctified, and the harmonies are smooth. The rhythm section is relentless, supporting the men with an insistent and quick quartet strut beat. The call-and-response between lead and quartet turns up the temperature during the QCs’ ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 23, 2021

“It Was the Blood” Minister James Willis & Nu Praze From the CD The Book of James V. 1 http://minjamesawillisjr.com By Robert M. Marovich Blood songs are especially relevant during the Lenten season, and Minister James Willis & Nu Praze deliver one in “It Was the Blood.” The musicians and singers embed bluesy notes in this simple but effective song that all but calls for congregational participation on the chorus. Powerhouse vocalist Treva Jones is her remarkable self as featured soloist, especially during the vamp, when she offers a litany of ills that Jesus’s blood has healed. Despite surges of ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 16, 2021

“Remember Me” Eleanor Dubinsky Touch the Sky LLC (release date: March 12, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Based on a true story, “Remember Me” was written by Sally Ponzio, her brother Frank Ponzio, and Eleanor Dubinsky, though the most critical contributor was Sally’s late son, Travis. Six months after Travis succumbed to an overdose, Sally was driving when she heard his voice saying “Fly high, fly free / Spread your wings / Remember me.” She pulled over, wrote the words he spoke on a napkin, and presented them to Frank, a jazz musician and composer. Frank, in turn, recruited his ...

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