Singles

“Man from Galilee” – DK. Dru feat. Bishop Rance Allen, Paul Porter, and Chris Byrd & True Victory

“Man From Galilee” DK. Dru feat. Bishop Rance Allen, Paul Porter, and Chris Byrd & True Victory SRT Entertainment (release date: February 7, 2020) By Bob Marovich This celebration of Jesus’s miracles and ode of gratitude for his ultimate sacrifice is an intergenerational pile-on of top-shelf singers—from Bishop Rance Allen and Paul Porter to DK. Dru and Chris Byrd & True Victory. It’s also a mashup of styles, with Allen and Porter shouting and squalling like quartet lead singers as Chris Byrd & True Victory provide spirited but polished choral harmonies. By the conclusion, “Man From Galilee” feels like a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 20, 2020

“We Are Family, We Are Friends” Darius Twyman & Destiny Character Music LLC (release date: February 21, 2020) By Bob Marovich Detroit singer, songwriter, and choir leader Darius Twyman teams up with his longstanding choir, Destiny, for a song with a dual purpose: to encourage global unity and to offer much-needed words of comfort and hope to the discouraged everywhere. Lush choir harmonies and Twyman’s impassioned vocals evoke the work of the Reverend Donald Vails, whose Voices of Deliverance was where a preteen Twyman cut his vocal teeth. The song is smooth, inspirational, and steeped in the Motor City’s polished ...

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“It’s On the Way” – Chozen Believers

“It’s On the Way” The Chozen Believers Independent (release date: April 2020) By Bob Marovich Most gospel songs these days speak to the world’s current condition. People need hope and encouragement, after all. The Chozen Believers’ debut single, “It’s on the Way,” certainly offers a message everyone needs to hear right now. Looking for joy? It’s on the way. Your blessing? It’s on the way. The arrangement has all the fixings of a raw quartet workout, vamp and all, but with a smooth patina to appeal to a contemporary audience. Organized last July, the Chozen Believers hails from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. All ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 14, 2020

“While Traveling Through” Shonda English feat. Lemmie Battles From the forthcoming album Travelin’ (release date: March 13, 2020) By Bob Marovich Combine the sanctuary-honed talents of Shonda English and Lemmie Battles, veteran musician Richard Gibbs, and David Walker & High Praise of Atlanta, Georgia, and you have the ingredients of an old-fashioned church rouser, low country handclap and all. “While Traveling Through” doesn’t disappoint. English and Battles sing and shout the glory down as they remind the listener that since this “barren world” is not our home, we are just travelers on our way to a better place. English is ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 6, 2020

“In His Hands” Uncle Chucc & the Zion Messengers Uncle Chucc Music (release date: April 1, 2020) By Bob Marovich When Tyler Perry asked individuals to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” in a show of global solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed to come out of nowhere. The spiritual, first published in 1927, entered international pop culture thirty years later when English singer Laurie London recorded it. Not to be outdone, Mahalia Jackson put out a single version. Like London’s disc, Jackson’s climbed up the pop charts. The song has been featured here and there, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 30, 2020

“Without Condition” Ashy Akakpo Independent (release date: February 16, 2020) https://www.ashyakakpo.com By Bob Marovich From North-West London, England, indie gospel artist Ashy Akakpo tests industry waters with her debut single, “Without Condition.” Understated and focused wholly on lyrics about God’s unconditional love, “Without Condition” introduces a young woman who sounds for all the world like an emerging Christian version of Alicia Keys. Don’t think so? Check out the harmony section at the single’s end and get back with me. It’s like we are spying on a late night solo happening on a half-lit church altar. Yes, less is more.

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“Just One Plague” – Esther Igbekele JP

“Just One Plague” Esther Igbekele JP By Bob Marovich To my knowledge, Nigerian gospel singer Esther Igbekele is the first music minister to release a song about COVID-19. Set to a buoyant West African rhythm, “Just One Plague” is a folk ballad that chronicles the impact Coronavirus has had on the world. Schools are closed. Businesses are closed. Sports are postponed. Economies are stalled. Governments are humbled. People need to stay a meter apart. Most astonishingly, she points out, the virus has also forced calm in the midst of international violence and political unrest. Ultimately, however, Igbekele commands the virus ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 23, 2020

“Out of This” Jason Williams Paper City Records (release date: March 20, 2020) By Bob Marovich “Out of This” has one of the smoothest, mellowest grooves I’ve heard in gospel this year. Despite the contemporary setting led by acoustic guitar, the lyrics cut right to the soul like an old church gospel song. “Maybe someone who cared for left you out in the rain,” Jason Williams sings in a baritone straight out of quiet storm programming. “Someone you sent up some prayers for caused you so much pain.” Williams encourages listeners that notwithstanding the personal anguish, “a blessing is coming ...

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“Good God” – Benita Jones

“Good God” Benita Jones Tyscot / Integrity (release date: March 6, 2020) By Bob Marovich As Benita Washington, the P&W singer from Selma, Alabama, captured national attention in 2003 after winning the “Gospel Dream” talent search competition in its inaugural season. Her subsequent albums included Hold On (Light/Intersound, 2004), Renaissance: Live in Nashville (ReddApple Seed Ent., 2007), and The Word Remains (Shanachie, 2020). Now, as Benita Jones, she delivers “Good God,” the first single from her forthcoming album. Her full-throttle rendition, backed by a band of musicians pounding out an uncompromising march tempo, turns an unassuming call-and-response worship piece into ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 16, 2020

“Never Forget” Atlanta Chapter of the GMWA Mass Choir Aspire International Music Group (release date: February 22, 2020) www.atlantagmwamasschoir.org By Bob Marovich The choir representing the Atlanta Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) gives the classic Soul Stirrers hit from 1954, “Jesus I’ll Never Forget,” a distinctive choir-tet arrangement. Joining the mass choir on lead vocals is GMWA stalwart Bishop Richard “Mr. Clean” White. White, squalling vocalist Evangelist Saundra Cepeda, and the choir take the listener back to what church used to sound like—but with a twist, courtesy of jazzy chords and chord changes in the bridge. ...

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