Pick of the Week

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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JGM Pick of the Week: June 27, 2016

“Christian Walk” Darren Deac From the Quality of Life Music album Christian Walk www.cdbaby.com/cd/darrendeac Just because we walk in the path of righteousness doesn’t mean we can’t throw a little shape to our step. That’s what Christian Hip Hop artist “Darren Deac” Edward demonstrated to the audience at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards main event last Saturday evening in Memphis, Tennessee. The “Christian Walk” is a modified two-step, a sanctified shuffle. The song has an infectious hook and an explicit message that expounds the life-giving power of service and prayer. From Newark, New Jersey, Edward started his career in secular ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 13, 2016

“Glory to the Lamb” Micah Stampley From the Interface Entertainment album To the King. . .Vertical Worship Live www.micahstampley.org I recognize that “Glory to the Lamb” is not the current single from Micah Stampley’s latest album—that honor belongs to the equally persuasive “Be Lifted”—but nevertheless, it is one of Stampley’s best selections since his cover of “Come to Jesus.” The song demonstrates his passionate singing better than any other track on the album. With instrumentation held to a minimum and the vocals set at high intensity, “Glory to the Lamb” is exactly the kind of song we anticipate from Stampley. It ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 6, 2016

“You Covered Me” Pastor Marlon Lock Available digitally www.pastormarlonlock.com Stellar-nominated gospel artist Pastor Marlon Lock of Milwaukee delivers a gentle contemporary ballad about how he got over: it was all because of God’s protective covering.  Lock delivers this forthright declaration with melodic tenderness but he’s moved by the end to shout a little for having gotten over. Lock’s quartet-flavored “He Delivered Me” was not only a Pick of the Week last year but became one of the Journal of Gospel Music‘s top 10 gospel singles of 2015. “Pastor T,” as Lock is affectionately known, pastors the church his grandfather founded: ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 30, 2016

“Testimony” Monica Lisa Stevenson Puretonez Productions (release date: April 21, 2016) www.monicazmuzik.com Award-winning gospel singer Monica Lisa Stevenson—the “fifth Caravan”—is adept at updating the traditional gospel sound for today’s ears. Hew new single, the brassy and soulful “Testimony,” with its funky take-charge rhythm, is the first taste we get of her forthcoming album, due out this fall. Featuring Doobie Powell and the Williams Singers of Indianapolis, “Testimony” is Stevenson making her witness public to encourage others to keep the faith. God will not only provide, she declares, but He can go beyond simple provision. Her exclamation, “Look at the shoes ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 23, 2016

“Mother Emanuel” Shirley Caesar From the forthcoming Entertainment One Music CD Fill This House Available from digital retail outlets Gospel songs with explicit social messages are a rarity these days, making Shirley Caesar’s sobering memorial to the shooting at “Mother” Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, stand out all the more. The mournful piano introduction gives way to Pastor Shirley’s head-shaking solo on the contrast of such a hateful act of racism happening in a sanctuary of love and acceptance. She reminds us that the name of the church, Emanuel, means “God is with us.” Shirley doesn’t as much ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 16, 2016

“Will You Be Ready” Roy & Revelation 4 Winds Records / Malaco (2016) www.malaco.com On their new single, “Will You Be Ready,” Stanley Roy Ladson and his group, aka Roy & Revelation, give Christian eschatology a 1960s party dance beat, making the strong medicine more palatable. Implicit in the Hopkins, South Carolina, gospel quartet’s expression about “my Jesus” is that they are beckoning others to follow from within salvation’s inner circle.  They are saved and want you to be, also. While the radio edit has all the ingredients to sell the song over the air-lanes, the eight-plus minute extended version provides listeners ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 9, 2016

“Better Days” Le’Andria Johnson Available from digital media outlets Since hearing her 2011 debut EP, The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson, I have considered Le’Andria Johnson to be one of modern gospel music’s most expressive voices. Paired with the right songs, such as her debut single, “Jesus,” she can be downright lethal. “Better Days” is one of those right songs. Its relaxed but intense vibe provides a soulful accompaniment to a message of encouragement in the midst of life’s many storms. Knowing Johnson’s story, “Better Days” could easily be autobiographical, but regardless, it’s certainly a testimony for anyone living in these ...

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