Singles

Jon Scott – “Freedom – A New Jerusalem”

“Freedom – A New Jerusalem” Jon Scott From the Brown Babes EP Freedom – A New Jerusalem (release date: November 17, 2020) Jon Scott, a London-based singer-songwriter (and first cousin to international singing star Seal), wrote “Freedom – A New Jerusalem” in response to President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. The murder of George Floyd only amplified Scott’s anger. With elements of Afrobeat and a U2-esque world pop sensibility, the title track of Scott’s four-track EP is an explicit call on the international community to break down the dividing walls and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 23, 2020

“Dr. Jesus” The Swanee Quintet From the Ruffboyzmusic Group LLC / Overboard Records CD Made in Augusta: Live at the Bell Auditorium (release date: June 20, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich “Dr. Jesus” is a Swanee Quintet perennial, a song they cannot eliminate from their repertory no matter how many years they are on the road or how many radio singles they accumulate. Nor should they: it’s a surefire way to lift congregations from their seats and start them to clapping and waving their hands. The Augusta, Georgia, quartet’s most recent recording of “Dr. Jesus” comes from a live disc ...

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“I’m Not Ashamed” – Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Paul Porter

“I’m Not Ashamed” Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Paul Porter Puretonez Productions (release date: September 8, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich You can’t go wrong pairing Monica Lisa Stevenson and Paul Porter on a song brimming with evangelism. The two traditional vocalists sing and shout like veteran evangelists as the musicians and BGVs offer shoulder-shaking support. Former Christianaires member Porter lofts falsetto notes while Stevenson digs deep to deliver bluesy runs. Their most simmering singing occurs during the vamp, when they move, like preachers, from a reasoned to a more emotional testification. “I’m Not Ashamed” is written by VaShawn Mitchell and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 16, 2020

“Lord Give Me Another Chance” Apostle John E. Ross feat. Sean Scales & Tamara Lloyd Independent (preorder release date: November 13, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich A vocal duo of Sean Scales and Tamara Lloyd delivers a single so churchy that it all but stands up and testifies. A passionate plea for forgiveness, “Lord Give Me Another Chance,” written and arranged by Apostle John E. Ross, is fueled by the traditional gospel blues base and the 12/8 time signature that some elders call the “rocking chair” rhythm. Lead singer Scales offers fine singing at all ranges, from stave-topping falsetto flights ...

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“Come Back” – Elain Thomas

“Come Back” Elain Thomas From the EP Transformations Independent (release date: October 6, 2020) www.reverbnation.com/elainthomas By Robert M. Marovich Anchored by bold and insistent Brazilian percussion, “Come Back” is Elain Thomas’s finest single to date. It’s a rhythmic rumination on God’s constancy, a conversation between the self-styled jazz psalmist and her Savior. In her resonant contralto, Thomas delivers the Lord’s declaration, “Backslider, you belong to me,” not as a command but as a given. Many songs lasting two-and-a-half minutes are fine where they are, but “Come Back” could have gone on much longer without any loss of listener interest.

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“It’s Gonna Be Alright” – Mie’L & Company

“It’s Gonna Be Alright” Mie’L & Company Shekaycie Music (release date: September 5, 2019) https://www.thebash.com/gospel-band/mie-l-company By Robert M. Marovich From its name, pronounced My-L, Mie’L & Company sounds like a male-led small choir. From the cover of its EP, Another Chance, with its photo of group leader Richie Irby, it appears to be a solo act. But listening to the EP, one discovers that this Roebuck, South Carolina, troupe sings with the downhome passion of a quartet. “It’s Gonna Be Alright” is by far the best of the EP’s three cuts. It is straight-ahead Sunday morning service gospel quartet singing, ...

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“Thank You Lord” – Pastor Mack Mason

“Thank You Lord” Pastor Mack Mason Independent (release date: October 17, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Fronting a team of smooth female vocalists, Pastor Mack Mason doesn’t hold back as he testifies with gushes of gratitude on “Thank You Lord.” The robust-voiced Mason sings at the upper edge of his baritone range, revving up in the song’s vamp, which apexes in the song’s finest moment—an ad libbed shout of joy and relief: “You’re the best friend that I’ve ever had – whoooo!” A veteran radio announcer, author, and publisher, Pastor Mason now helms his grandfather’s church, Greater Prayer Garden Church ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 9, 2020

“9 Makes Us 1” Legacy Five & the Wardlaw Brothers Daywind Records (release date: October 16, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Sung by a combination of two quartets, one representing southern gospel and the other gospel music, the smooth ballad “9 Makes Us 1” underscores the significance and necessity of racial amity. The nine singers meet in the musical middle, blending the best of their respective styles into one meaty mélange that evokes a 1990s pop ballad. Despite music marketing categories based on race, white and black quartets have historically emulated one another. Groups like the Jordanaires and Blackwood Brothers ...

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“Help Them Out” – Charles Jerkins

“Help Them Out”Charles Jerkinswww.charlesjerkinsmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich Charles Jerkins’ “Help Them Out” is an R&B-infused ballad about extending compassion to the ones who need it most. But the aid goes beyond basic human needs, Charles sings, because extending a helping hand or words of encouragement—“showing the love of Jesus”—can also lead to that person’s soul salvation. By the song’s vamp, Charles abandons balladeering for pulpiteering, extemporizing in a blue tonality as the BGVs coo “help them out” behind him. Charles is uncle to producers and songwriters Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins and “Uncle Freddie” Jerkins III. In fact, Freddie co-wrote “Help ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 2, 2020

“Hallelujah Anyhow” Canton Spirituals feat. Al Green Malaco Music Group www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Highway 51 links Canton, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee. So does the single “Hallelujah Anyhow,” as it links the Canton Spirituals and the Reverend Al Green. The combo works. Keep in mind that Green came from gospel and, after entering the ministry, went back to gospel, earning GRAMMY Awards for his gospel albums. A conventional quartet song written by the Canton Spirituals’ Harvey Watkins Jr. and producer Stan Jones, “Hallelujah Anyhow” finds Watkins and Green, elder statesmen of church and church music, sharing nonspecific testimonies about illness ...

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