Pick of the Week

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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JGM Pick of the Week: September 5, 2016

“Faith Can” Debbie Cochran From the album Faith Can (single released September 2, 2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/debbiecochran5 There’s nothing like country music to evoke the angst of heartbreak. When combined with spirituality and faith, country music can turn heartbreak into inspiration. That’s what you get with “Faith Can,” a country ballad composed and sung by country singer-songwriter Debbie Cochran to celebrate the courage of fourteen-year-old competitive gymnast Kate Foster. Foster’s acute myeloid leukemia indirectly caused her to lose half of her left leg but none of her passion or conviction for life. Now wearing a prosthetic leg, Foster is back in training. Her ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 22, 2016

“I Am Blessed” Kevan Peabody and Dayanna Griffin Twinkem Productions www.twinkemp.com Leave it to veteran Bay Area gospel artist Kevan Peabody to keep the traditional style alive. Teaming with Lady Dayanna Griffin, Peabody extols the wonderfulness of being blessed and highly favored with a cornucopia of blue notes, while Griffin follows suit with melismatic runs that evoke Kim Burrell or a Clark Sister. The BGVs and musicians, especially the tinkling piano and chortling organ, hold down the rocking chair rhythm, confirming the song’s trad cred even further. Still, the ensemble doesn’t overdo it, giving the single an intimacy that recalls ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 8, 2016

“He Chose Me” Chadwick (released March 4, 2016) www.therealchadwick.com Chadwick Johnson, known simply as Chadwick, is an indie gospel artist from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His single, “He Chose Me,” is a balladic declaration of gratitude for forgiveness. Speaking as a former Prodigal Son, Chadwick sings in his high tenor that “out of everyone in the world” and after “all the wrong I’ve done. . . .He chose me.” The song’s pop melody and intense beat, which forever increases the tension, give “He Chose Me” a Top 40 feel. An EP is expected this summer.

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 1, 2016

“The Master’s Calling” Deborah Joy Winans Malaco Records www.malaco.com “The Master’s Calling” by singer and actor Deborah Joy Winans is at turns haunting, electrifying, and inspiring, and quite possibly one of the best gospel songs of the year. Written by Thad Cockrell, the song opens with a solemn piano and organ and features an earnest and delicate Winans answered by a commanding gospel choir. “Listen while you still can hear / The Master’s calling.” The daughter of contemporary gospel pioneer Carvin Winans, Deborah plays Charity Greenleaf-Satterlee on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) drama, Greenleaf, from whence the song comes. Although most know ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 25, 2016

“All I Need” Ramona J. Sanders From the CD Beginning With Me www.cdbaby.com/cd/ramonajsanders Opening with a tinkling piano and a marching beat, “All I Need” finds New York singer Ramona J. Sanders rendering praises to the Most High, the only one she really needs in her life, with genuine conviction and studied vocal versatility. She is supported by treble background vocalists who help her build the song’s intensity until the moment when the spirit is the highest and praises just spill out of Sanders with gut-wrenching, no-holds-barred passion. Gospel enthusiasts may remember Sanders as a member of the Angel’lics female gospel ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 18, 2016

“More than a Conqueror” Gregory D and Company (available digitally) www.cbgministries.com During this election season, the concept of winning is tossed around like a greased football, but for Elder Gregory DeMyers Jr. (Gregory D) and his singers, winning is a far more personal, temporal, and even eternal pursuit. On the even-tempered but nonetheless passionate “More than a Conqueror,” DeMyers’ contemporary gospel ensemble Gregory D and Company sings of personal hope and encouragement in such a time as this. Drawing directly from Romans 8:37, the group proclaims that all are conquerors “through Him who loved us.” To bring it to street ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 11, 2016

“Holy Spirit” Nia Allen (available from digital music outlets) www.niaallenmusic.com From the first few bars of “Holy Spirit,” praise and worship singer-songwriter Nia Allen draws the listener in with her lithe and lovely soprano, her tone breathing in the song’s reverent invitation for the Holy Spirit to come and fill the room. Written by Jesus Culture’s Bryan and Katie Torwalt, and providing them a GRAMMY for Best Christian Song of the Year, “Holy Spirit” is delicate and dramatic, blending the atmospheric strains of CCM with gospel-inspired vocal improvisation. No stranger to recording—she has two solo albums to her credit—Allen is a Berklee College ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 5, 2016

“Closer to You” Carrington Gaines From the EP The Process (released November, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/carringtongaines Cut from the same musical mold as current gospel vocalists Jonathan McReynolds and Travis Greene, Carrington Gaines offers “Closer to You.” It’s an introspective ballad led by acoustic guitar and propelled by a delicate finger-popping beat. At one point, the song possesses the lyrical and melodic gravitas of a hymn.  At other times, it unfolds like an informal prayer closet conversation. Throughout, Gaines declares that he will seek restoration of his connection with God after a past marked by separation. A native of Buffalo, New York, ...

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