Singles

“Oh How Good It Is” – Byron Cage

“Oh How Good It Is” Byron Cage From the Malaco / AIR Release Isolation (release date: September 27, 2019) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Byron Cage, designated the Prince of Praise for helping popularize Praise & Worship music in African American churches, opens his new single, the cheerful “Oh How Good It Is,” with a declaration of praise. He wants to be “in the presence of the King”—so much so that it makes him want to shout, holler, and throw up his hands. Not out of anger and frustration, like Marvin Gaye, but out of joy and gratitude. Halfway through the ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: September 23, 2019

“I Know He’s Been Good” Linda Sanders Higher Praise Records (2019) By Bob Marovich You can take the woman out of the quartet, but you cannot take the quartet out of the woman. In the case of Linda Sanders, that’s a good thing. After many years of singing gospel quartet with a number of groups, most notably the Zion Travelers of East St. Louis, and about a year providing lead vocals for a recording group called De’Vine, Sanders of St. Louis has gone solo. Her debut single, “I Know He’s Been Good” has all the components of quartet singing. Backed ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: September 16, 2019

“I Can Do Anything” Joanna Hale-McGill McGill Music Group (release date: June 22, 2019) From the CD New Sound, Same God Vol. 1 www.JoannaHaleMcGill.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Joanna Hale-McGill has a keen ear for song hooks. On “I Can Do Anything,” the praise & worship leader of His Will Worship Center in Slidell, Louisiana, embeds memorable hooks in the lyrics, in the music, in the bits of electronica, in the overall arrangement, and sometimes even in the spaces between. The song is an anthem of heaven-bestowed empowerment bathed in a bubbly, shoulder-shaking vibe and driven by insistent eighth notes ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: September 10, 2019

“Grateful” James Chappell III Independent (release date: October 5, 2018) aplazmanagementllc@gmail.com By Bob Marovich “Grateful” is a charming, smile-inducing song on its own, but add James Chappell III as lead vocalist, and it delights on two levels. In less than three minutes, Chappell channels the elastic yodels of Sam Cooke and Johnny Taylor, lofts falsetto notes like the Reverend Claude Jeter, adds a bit of Reverend Al Green southern twang, and delivers gut-wrenching growls like Joe Ligon. Backed by a quartet and with a rhythm section galloping along in mid-tempo, Chappell sounds as pleased with God’s intervention in his life ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: September 2, 2019

“He Worked It Out” Leah Oduro-Kwarten Ok Productions (release date: June 22, 2018) By Bob Marovich A lead vocalist with the Illinois Midwest Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Choir under Dr. Cynthia Nunn, Leah Oduro-Kwarten, better known as Lady Flo, flexes her Chicago chops on this high energy aisle walker. Lady Flo lends her smoky alto to songwriter Angela Frazier’s double-time shout of hallelujah. An effervescent group of background vocalists serves as the choir to Lady Flo’s evangelistic declamations. The “work it out” vamp is reminiscent of Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer’s “He Can Work It Out,” but without the baby needing shoes. When ...

Read More »

“Give Him Glory” – Dr. LaTonya Earl

“Give Him Glory” Dr. LaTonya Earl Latonyaearl1@gmail.com By Bob Marovich Houstonian Dr. LaTonya Earl’s sassy single “When I Stopped Playing with Jesus” is distinctive in melody and lyric, but it’s her work on the worship ballad “Give Him Glory” that best sells her skills to the gospel music public. This simple song, with its singularly singable melody, finds Earl at her unbridled best. Like a seasoned gospel soloist, she raises the song’s temperature from cool and even to a breathless apex without coming close to going off the melismatic cliff. The independent artist Dr. LaTonya Earl has earned honors at ...

Read More »

“Way Maker” – Tonya Ware

“Way Maker” Tonya Ware From the EP Signature of God, Volume One The Success House (release date: July 19, 2019) www.tonyaware.com By Bob Marovich Back in 2006, Tonya Ware recorded her debut album, The Voice. Among its many fine cuts, the album featured a marvelous single written by Marvin Winans called “Put My Hand in Yours.” It earned Ware a Stellar Award nomination. But it was the likable “Rain” that caught my attention. Ware’s vast but not excessively flashy voice was perfect for this pop-flavored prayer for an overflow of blessings. With a successful album and an executive position with ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: August 20, 2019

“In My Name” Ruth La’Ontra ALJR Music Group/Tyscot Records, LLC Available on all digital outlets By Bob Marovich Ruth La’Ontra, the Stellar Award-nominated artist from Aberdeen, North Carolina, is going after radio play with her new single, “In My Name.” From her 2017 album I Got You, Ruth’s marvelous cover of the Thompson Community Singers’ 1992 hit evokes Kim McFarland’s original solo nearly note for note as the background vocalists update the song without taking away one ounce of the original flavor. It’s refreshing to hear a classic redone with as much fidelity as forward-looking fashion. Music and ministry run ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: August 13, 2019

“Don’t Judge Me” Kierra Sheard feat. Missy Elliott Karew Entertainment / RCA Inspiration (release date: August 9, 2019) By Bob Marovich The latest gospel-R&B mashup, “Don’t Judge Me,” teams Grammy-nominated and Stellar Award-winning Kierra Sheard of Detroit’s legendary Clark-Moss dynasty with Missy Elliott, iconic hip hop artist and soon-to-be MTV Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Awardee. In a tone of humility laced with media fatigue, Sheard sings “I just ran through the fire; please don’t judge me.” Though directly in response to those who put Sheard’s every move under a microscope, the song also serves as a rejoinder to haters everywhere ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: July 29, 2019

“While I Wait” Shara J Anjelica Records (release date: February 26, 2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/sharaj By Bob Marovich While the hypnotically flowing beat of “While I Wait” provides an inkling of the single’s Bahamian roots, it’s delivered with such American Pentecostal passion by Shara J that most would never know of its island origins. A worship leader in her native Bahamas, Shara J gives “While I Wait” the heart-pouring reading that the plaintive ballad requires. “You said I could come boldly before your throne of grace,” she sings, “but my heart is broken and I don’t have the strength.” It’s easy to ...

Read More »