Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: March 19, 2018

“Prayer Room” Jarell Smalls & Co. From the CD A New Season Southern Wave Music Group / Get Ready Music Group (release date: May 19, 2017) http://jarellsmalls.com/ By Bob Marovich By evoking Grandma at the outset, Jarell Smalls gives the appropriate old-school pedigree to “Prayer Room.” Then, to a rockabilly-guitar-meets-Pentecostal-beat, he and his group jump into the congregational classic, “Come in the Prayer Room.” The Charleston, South Carolina-born Smalls scats, vamps, chants, and shouts like a quartet singer. With about two minutes remaining on the recording, the Company moves from the back to the front. The singers shift the melody, but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 5, 2018

“Let the Healing Begin” Ernest J. Lee feat. Gerard Brooks From Anthems from the Vault, Vol. 1 David’s Dance Music/RedTape Ent. (release date: June 13, 2017) https://ernestjleemusic.org/ By Bob Marovich All of us have burdens, Ernest J. Lee states at the outset of “Let the Healing Begin,” and it’s time to shed them. Featured vocalist Gerard Brooks then joins Lee on this prayer asking God to “let your glory fall all over the world,” including on our jobs and on our schools. The poignant melody and arrangement, complete with chiming background vocalists, provide the foundation on which the two men emote.  ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 26, 2018

“Your Blessing is on its Way” God’s Posse From The Kind of God We Serve: Live in Chicago (EP) Trewworks Music Group/Denzell Music Group By Bob Marovich The Chicago-based quartet God’s Posse offers a traditional drive-tempo workout in “Your Blessing is on its Way.” The infectious backbeat, the singers’ palpable enthusiasm, the muscular music, and the live audience’s handclapping are ideal complements to the song’s message of hope and encouragement. It also points out the importance of recording gospel music in front of an audience or congregation. Gospel music recorded in the studio is fine, but there’s something magical about hearing a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 19, 2018

“Awaiting My King” Mrs. Inspire Inspire Be You Beauty, LLC (release date: January 17, 2018) www.mrsinspire.com By Bob Marovich Mrs. Inspire lends her enchanting voice to “Awaiting My King,” a lovely melodic CCM ballad that exposes the singer’s own struggles and vulnerability in hopes of encouraging others similarly burdened to do what she has done: “cast your cares on Him.” The Texas-based singer-songwriter discovered her talent for singing, and her love for Christian music, around the age of five, and has been involved in music ministry her whole life. She has also worked as a model and promotes “modeling with a message,” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 5, 2018

“He Knows My Name (The Worship Experience)” William H. Rainer Jr. Overboard Records (2018) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/williamhrainerjr1 By Bob Marovich On “He Knows My Name,” husky-voiced William H. Rainer Jr. expresses delight that the Savior knows his name and has brought him through “so many things” even when he has gone astray. The track goes down smooth, its vibe falling somewhere between James Cleveland and VaShawn Mitchell. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, William H. Rainer Jr. (“Rainey Jr.”) is a gospel singer, songwriter and bass player. He is praise team director for the Church of the Living God in Fairview Heights, Illinois, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 30, 2018

“He Saved Me” YaLonda Lolar-Johnson Thysongbird Music Group (release date: July 2017) www.thysongbird.com By Bob Marovich YaLonda Lolar-Johnson is distinctive in gospel music for hailing from two environments not particularly well known for producing many gospel artists: St. Paul, Minnesota; and the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Nevertheless, gospel is her favorite genre and on “He Saved Me,” a song written by vocal instructor Dileesa Archer, Lolar-Johnson admits she was to blame for some of the problems in her life. She also had too much pride to ask for help, so she threw herself a pity party. But out of her emotional darkness, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 22, 2018

“Church Medley II” Syreeta Thompson Trumpetlady From the CD Evolution of a Winner (release date: September 15, 2017) www.trumpetlady.com By Bob Marovich At one time, brass instruments in the service of God were found only in Pentecostal and Spiritual churches and, of course, in the famed shout bands of the United House of Prayer for All People. But times have changed and trumpets, saxophones, and all sorts of instruments are welcome at nearly every type of church. Still, there are few female brass players in gospel music. Syreeta Thompson is one. The Grammy Award-winning, Billboard-charting and Stellar Award-nominated Thompson pays homage to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 16, 2018

“He Rose” Brent Jones From the EchoPark JDI Entertainment album Joy Comin’ (release date: August 12, 2014) By Bob Marovich Calling “He Rose” a “good old Baptist song,” Brent Jones and his choir offer a good old Easter Sunday song that works for any time of the year. This bouncy and muscular outing finds Jones leading the big-voiced choir in collective enthusiasm about Jesus’s victory over death during the Passion and, in rising, cleansing the sins of humanity. By the conclusion, Jones has the soprano, alto, and tenor sections singing in contrapuntal harmony (it’s so good they could have reprised this ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 8, 2018

“God is in Control” Kerri Gordon Independent Release (release date: July 27, 2017) www.kerrigordon.com By Bob Marovich Kerri Gordon’s debut single, “God is in Control,” is a let-go-and-let-God ballad sung from the point of view of someone who has realized this personally—as a single parent raising three children, one with special needs. “I tried it on my own,” Gordon sings, but “I made up my mind, whatever comes. . .He has it all in control.” She and her background vocalists then repeat the message to benefit listeners feeling the same impatience and disappointment. The musicians give the song a laid back but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 1, 2018

“Your Will” Bill Moss Jr. feat. J Moss Salathiel Records (release date: July 21, 2017) www.billmossmusic.com By Bob Marovich Although they debuted on the gospel scene as the Moss Brothers, Bill and James “J” Moss have since pursued separate solo careers. They come together again on “Your Will,” an understated, piano-introduced, and jazzy rumination on the personal benefits of living a Godly life. On the single, from Bill Jr.’s project, Live with Third New Hope: Songbook of Praise & Worship, the brothers notch the gospel heat up with every newly sung verse. The song oozes class and sophistication as the brothers deliver ...

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