Singles

“Steel Wheels” – Imari Tones

“Steel Wheels” Imari Tones From the album Revive the World www.imaritones.net Some stomp on the devil’s head. The Imari Tones crush bad under their steel wheels. Which is an appropriate metaphor from a Christian heavy metal band. Hailing from Japan, where only five percent of the population is Christian, the Imari Tones are indeed an anomaly. They started out as a straight-up heavy metal band, naming themselves after the founding member’s girlfriend (now wife). But Imari is also used to describe a style of Japanese painted pottery. So when the trio became the country’s first band to blend heavy metal with ...

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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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“Zion Praise” – Clareta Haddon

“Zion Praise” Clareta Haddon From the album Contagious www.claretamusic.com Introduced with a “Sing, ReRe” by brother Deitrick, Clareta Haddon-Jackson drops into a rock steady rhythm for “Zion Praise.” Emulating the clipped lyrical patter of reggae artists one moment and lofting gospel shouts heavenward the next, Clareta reminds Zion (i.e., the church) that “everything you do is about God’s glory.” Coming from the Haddon Family, it’s not surprising that Clareta pushes the envelope in music and fashion—she is recognizable by her blue-tinged rocker ‘do and slate blue lipstick. It’s also not surprising that she can sing. The whole Haddon Family, all the ...

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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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“God Has a Blessing” – Sha’Quan Welch

“God Has a Blessing” Sha’Quan Welch Believe Music Works www.shaquanwelch.com Set in 12/8 time and featuring a traditional-style vibe, complete with bluesy vamp and piano, “God Has a Blessing” riffs lyrically on the church aphorism, “God’s got a blessing with your name on it.” The song comes from the pen of songwriter, musician, and vocalist Sha’Quan Welch, who has a deft feel for melody, lyrical rhythm, and song timing. The skilled musicians and vocalists support Corey Fulmore’s high falsetto work on this radio-friendly group single. Sha’Quan Welch is minister of music at Newark’s Galilee Baptist Church, under the leadership of ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 2, 2016

“Oh How We Love YOU” Tiff Joy From the Tyscot Records CD Tiff Joy www.tyscot.com The second single from Tiff (“Amazing”) Joy’s eponymously titled album from 2015, “Oh How We Love YOU” finds the award-winning singer-songwriter leading an exuberant group of background vocalists on one of those rigorous praise pieces that may not be in the hymnbook but appears with regularity at gospel music programs. Written by a team of talented songwriters (Tiff Joy, Phillip and Angel Feaster, and Calvin Rodgers), “Oh How We Love YOU” has so much motive power, clapping along is almost compulsory. Destined to be a ...

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