Singles

JGM Pick of the Week: May 21, 2018

“Keys to the Kingdom” Min. David Whitfield & Whitfield Productions, feat. Lena Starks Choirboi Records (release date: March 16, 2018) By Bob Marovich On this church rouser, Angelique “Lena” Starks, a sparkplug of a lead vocalist, breaks it down: you don’t have to be rich, or a doctor or lawyer, or even a warrior, to make it to Heaven. Just “be holy, be righteous,” she sings. Known to enjoy singing to a quick tempo, Starks gets downright evangelistic on the vamp as the choir supports her with lyric responses and handclaps. Min. David Whitfield & Whitfield Productions carries on the ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: May 14, 2018

“I’m Determined” Bemeche’ BGMN Records (release date: April 9, 2018) www.bemeche.com By Bob Marovich This Virginia-based artist teams up with a top-shelf choir and musicians who together sound as if they came straight outta Chicago’s Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer on “I’m Determined.” A churchy up-tempo workout with jaunty piano work complements Bemeche’s conviction to run on to see what the end will be. He engages the choir in antiphonal singing and sets up a special section where sopranos, altos, and tenors layer their harmonies onto the main melody one at a time. Then the musicians drop out for a straight-up vamp. ...

Read More »

“Can’t Wait to See Mama” – Prez Blackmon

“Can’t Wait to See Mama” Prez Blackmon Pearl’s Son Music (originally released in 2017) By Bob Marovich Stellar Award-nominee Prez Blackmon may be the biggest fan of holidays. His prior single releases include songs about Christmas, his birthday, and Mother’s Day. The latter, a 2010 JDI Records selection called “Happy Mother’s Day,” finds Blackmon sharing vocals with songstress Renee Spearman. Blackmon’s new release, “Can’t Wait to See Mama,” is another Mother’s Day ballad, this time an a cappella ode to his mother and all she did for him. To a familiar hymn melody, Blackmon improvises as a backing choir of voices supports ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: May 8, 2018

“Blessing Me” Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir From the City of Peace CD Sure. Focused. Centered (2017) By Bob Marovich Despite the jaunty piano intro and thunderous singing of the NextGeneration Choir, “Blessing Me” belongs to its fiery lead vocalist, Meaghan Williams-McNeal. Her feisty shouts and squalls lead the group on this churchy offering of thanksgiving for blessings bestowed. It is one of those songs that seems to anticipate a praise break.  Not surprisingly, Williams-McNeal is pursuing a solo career. Dr. F. James Clark and the NextGeneration Choir hail from the Shalom Church (City of Peace) of Florissant, Missouri. Their debut album, 2015’s Simply Amazing, ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: April 9, 2018

“Believe” Ese-Osa April Sound https://www.facebook.com/eseosamusic/ By Bob Marovich The gospel artist formerly known as Liosa offers “Believe,” a lovely ballad of personal encouragement sung as part prayer and part soaring affirmation. To a lilting piano, Ese-Osa’s beguiling alto delivers her hopeful message with dead-on conviction and apexes with a range-extending shout. Ese-Osa, christened Osasuyi Deborah Esosa, hails from Edo State in southern Nigeria. After joining the Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical Students choir, she helped the troupe record its first album by writing most of the selections. By 2008, she launched her solo career and since then has garnered two South-South ...

Read More »

“We Livin'” – Tina Campbell

“We Livin’” Tina Campbell From the Gee Tee Creative / Malaco Records album It’s Still Personal (release date: September 29, 2017) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Tina Campbell is “livin’ that blessed life” but, as you’ll hear, there’s two interpretations of that statement. On her latest single, “We Livin’,” Tina, one-half of the Mary Mary gospel duo, sings that your high life isn’t so high if God isn’t a part of it. She acknowledges that people want to live big, garnering material wealth and respect, and she doesn’t disparage it.  She herself has reaped rich rewards in her singing career.  But at ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: April 2, 2018

“Trouble Won’t Last” Apostle James Alston & Fellowship https://apostlejamesalston.com/ By Bob Marovich By their name, Apostle James Alston & Fellowship sounds like a P&W group, but they are actually a quartet, complete with Alston’s gravelly lead vocal delivery and gospel chuckle. For “Trouble Won’t Last,” Alston & Fellowship delivers the reassuring message of Psalm 30:5, like so many decades of quartets before them, in the language of the spiritual, “I’m so glad trouble don’t last always.” Of course, the melody and lyrics are different from the spiritual, and the quartet gives their song a bounce appropriate for the joyful sentiment. ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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.  ...

Read More »

“Stand By Me” – Pastor Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny

“Stand by Me” Pastor Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny From the 4 Winds Records album Stand By Me “Live” (expected release date: March 2, 2018) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich In front of God and a live audience, Pastor Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny pray fervently for heavenly assistance on “Stand By Me.” It’s a prayer Rogers utters in the darkness of anguish, in the midst of an internal storm, when friends do him wrong and, he sings, “sometimes I feel like I’m all alone.” Ah, there’s that sacred conjunction, but, which good gospel songs employ to shift the tone ...

Read More »