Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: November 23, 2016

“Excuse Me” Chrystal Rucker HBK Media (2016) Chrystal Rucker is one of the most gifted vocalists in gospel music today. Although some of her best work thus far has been on passionately rendered slow songs, “Excuse Me” gives her a chance to front a shoulder-shaking praiser. On “Excuse Me,” Rucker only hints at the reasons she shouts and lifts her hands in praise. She sings: “Wish I had the time to tell you, but you would not believe / All of the things God has done for me.” Just thinking about God’s goodness gets her all verklempt, which means more ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 14, 2016

“Rock Steady” Angela Bennett (2016) Available from digital media outlets An alumna of Houston’s Southeast Inspirational Choir, where she sang under the direction of notables Shirley Joiner, Carl Preacher, and Brenda Waters (the choir also produced Yolanda Adams), Angela Dannett Bennett offers an electrifying performance on “Rock Steady.” Bennett and her background vocalists encourage listeners to be strong and cling to the rock during the storm. She then takes the meteorology metaphor a step further: “Have you any fair weather friends? / When trouble comes, the fellowship ends?” she asks. Don’t worry, she adds: “He will never leave you alone.” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 7, 2016

“Escaped to Tell” Blanche McAllister-Dykes From the Escaped To Tell Movie Soundtrack www.escapedtotell.com Sung by Blanche McAllister-Dykes, whose vocal vulnerability gives the song the feel of a church testimony, “Escaped to Tell” is the title track of a Christian-themed film by songwriter and author, Nefateri Smalls, who co-wrote the song with Chad Chambers. An alumna of Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers, McAllister-Dykes builds from victim to victorious to advocate through a steadily building passion that is echoed by her background vocalists. By the conclusion, she is shouting praises to God for bringing her through the emotional pain of domestic violence ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 1, 2016

“In Due Season” Jennifer Myles (2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/jennifermyles2 Bronx-born Jennifer Myles and her team of musicians and singers tear it up on her debut single, “In Due Season.” Fueled by a frenetic pace, “In Due Season” is a romping reminder that although we may wait for our breakthrough for what seems like a lifetime, make no mistake: it is on its way. He will. She’s a witness. Now living in Decatur, Georgia, and assisting the Beulah Missionary Baptist Church music ministry, Myles has served as background vocalist for a parade of popular gospel artists. She is now intent on developing her ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 24, 2016

“Be Still” Riverside SDA Choir feat. Lecresia Campbell From The Riverside Project: Music & Devotion (2016) www.RiversideNashville.org “Declare Your Name” is the initial single from Riverside Seventh Day Adventist Nashville’s The Riverside Project, a two-CD music and spoken word release. But another selection, “Be Still,” is significant because it may be the final recorded performance by gospel singer Lecresia Campbell. Campbell, who passed away on September 29 of this year, shines on this slow burner, which puts the language of Psalms 46:10 in the vernacular (“stop worrying and struggling, questioning and fretting” instead of “cease striving”). She moans, shouts, flips ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 17, 2016

“Give Thanks” Doe Jones (release date: October 20, 2016) www.doeforeverjones.com Listeners will be familiar with Dominique “Doe” Jones from the family band foreverJONES, for whom she co-wrote and sang the hit single, “He Wants It All.” There’s much more to this singer-songwriter and musician, and if listeners didn’t figure it out with her outstanding power pop-inspirational “Most of All” (from foreverJONES’ Musical Revival), her latest solo single, “Give Thanks,” provides ample demonstration of her unfiltered, untampered-with talent. The song’s self-confident expression of gratitude for victory through God is buoyed by an acoustic funky soul evocative of Corinne Bailey Rae and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 10, 2016

“Walking in Victory” Angela “Missy” Billups E’Mazin Entertainment (2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/angelamissybillups6 New York-based singer Missy Billups returns to her traditional roots on her latest single, “Walking in Victory.” This uptempo call-and-response piece, which Billups introduced at gospel conventions this summer, contains a calypso-sounding chorus that offers a vivid image of Billups strutting across the platform in a victory walk. Traditional soul notwithstanding, the song wears a contemporary vibe as Billups exuberantly celebrates spiritual release and declares victory over her family and her future.  I personally enjoy when Missy puts the P&W aside and gets her old school on, as she does ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 26, 2016

“Keep on Praising” Jewell & Converted Independent; release date: September 23, 2016 www.cdbaby.com/cd/jewellconverted The fiery female quartet Jewell & Converted score their second JGM Pick of the Week with “Keep On Praising.” To a handclapping tempo, lead singer Jewell Taylor offers hypothetical personal challenges as Converted responds by chanting “What do you do?” The collective reminds the listener of how the Scriptures answer this and puts it in the vernacular: “lift up your head,” “wear a smile,” and praise your way through. “Keep On Praising” is a traditional shouter near impossible to listen to sitting down, especially during the vamp, when ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 19, 2016

“I Give You Praise, Lord” Chicago Mass Choir From the New Haven Records CD I Give You Praise (2016) www.chicagomasschoir.com On their latest single, “I Give You Praise, Lord,” the celebrated Chicago Mass Choir delivers P&W with P&D (power and drama). The song begins with the sopranos singing delicately, like a praise team, and opens like a flower when the key changes.  From there, the song builds to a sonorous strength. All the while, longtime Chicago Mass songwriter and producer Percy Gray lifts each line for the choir’s response and assent.  The semi-a cappella segment at the end rounds up any ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 12, 2016

“God’s Got My Back” TaMyya J MM Music Group (release date: September 2016) www.tamyyaj.com Set to an urban AC arrangement, “God’s Got My Back,” the thought-provoking single from radio host and gospel singer TaMyya J of New Jersey, is about flipping one’s thinking from negative to positive. It’s a call to develop the confidence to ignore that needling inner voice that tries to diminish you. TaMyya once thought “I’m not strong enough, wise enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough.”  Now, with God in her life, she sings “I’m fine just by being me.” “God’s Got My Back” falls lyrically ...

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