Pick of the Week

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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JGM Pick of the Week: December 11, 2017

“Go Tell It On the Mountain” Dr. Ray Berryhill & the Celebration Choir of RLCI KNEntertainment LLC (digital release date: Dec 19, 2017) By Bob Marovich The Celebration Choir of Resurrected Life Church International on Chicago’s North Side gospelizes this cheery Christmas spiritual with powerful doses of 1980s church choir energy. Dr. Ray Allen Berryhill preaches during the vamp as the choir responds with lethal attack harmonies. Senior Pastor Berryhill comes from strong gospel mettle, having worked as minister of music for the late “Singing” Sammy Lewis, who was an early member of the Roberta Martin Singers before he became a solo artist ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 5, 2017

“I’m Saved” Dexter Walker & Zion Movement (release date: December 1, 2017) Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Chicago is a choir town. Always has been. One of Chicago’s current crop of choir stars is Dexter Walker & Zion Movement. Crowned the best church choir in America at the 2012 Verizon How Sweet the Sound contest, the group has a new single, “I’m Saved.” “I’m Saved” evokes the exuberance of Ricky Dillard & New G and Chicago Mass Choir with its energetic tempo, rhythm thick with tambourine jingles (it’s subtitled “The Tambourine Song,” after all), and rotund gospel choir harmonies ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 27, 2017

“I Am Triumphant” Michelle Brooks-Thompson (2017) www.michellebrooksthompsonmusic.com By Bob Marovich On her new single, “I Am Triumphant,” gospel songstress Michelle Brooks-Thompson and her background singers console those who feel defeated by letting them know they are already winners.  Their victory is already in the bag, through Christ Jesus. After the collective establishes the song’s premise, the BGVs maintain the mantra while Michelle breaks loose to weave a vocal tapestry of evangelistic passion, which includes a stave-soaring high note just before the song enters its cool down mode. Speaking of triumphant, Michelle, who was a finalist on Season 3 of NBC’s The Voice, recently won the top ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 21, 2017

“Come Too Far” New Golden Crowns of Louisville, KY Sharp Records (release date: June 1, 2017) Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Organized in 1940 as the Golden Crowns, an a cappella quartet, the New Golden Crowns of Louisville, Kentucky, are comprised of a mixture of new members and a couple of veterans, notably lead singer Reverend Nathaniel Brown (50+ years) and guitar player Reverend Bobby Johnson (30+ years). “Come Too Far” is a drive-tempo hand clapper that riffs on the church catchphrase, “I’ve come too far, I can’t turn around,” as immortalized in the Alex Bradford classic “Too Close ...

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