Singles

JGM Pick of the Week: December 7, 2015

“Nada me Faltara’” Denyse Bittencourt From the CD Um Minuto Mais www.denysebittencourt.com.br “Nada me Faltara’,” from Brazilian songstress and songwriter Denyse Bittencourt’s Um Minuto Mais, envelops the listener in an easy warmth of mood and tone. Bittencourt’s crystal clear soprano is tinged with just enough passion to bring the song to an intense apex. The title translates from Portugese to English as “I Shall Not Want,” from the first line of Psalm 23 (“The Lord Is My Shepherd”).  But as with any good song, well rendered, you don’t necessarily need to know what the words mean to get the message. Denyse Bittencourt ...

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“Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child – The Walls Group

“Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child” The Walls Group From the EP Sounds of Christmas With “Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child,” The Walls Group puts a contemporary lacquer on Margaret Allison and the Angelic Gospel Singers’ Christmas classic, “Glory, Glory to the New Born King.” Once the most popular Christmas song in the African American community, it was overtaken by Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas.” Still, as The Walls Group demonstrates, you can bring an old carol back to life by lifting the tempo and tossing leads back and forth like the Harlem Globetrotters pass the ball around.  They sing ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 30, 2015

“God’s Got Me” Dexter Walker & Zion Movement https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dexterwalkerandzionmovem From the Chicago choir that won the 2012 Verizon How Sweet the Sound search for the Best Church Choir in America, “God’s Got Me” is a confident declaration of soul comfort sung from within the everlasting arms of the Lord. It’s an embrace that feels so inviting to lead vocalist Minister Tim White that he revs up to testifying by the conclusion. This Percy Bady-produced single, from Dexter Walker & Zion Movement’s forthcoming full project release, is less frenetic than we are used to hearing from ZM and Min. Tim White, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 23, 2015

“He’s Been Good” Dr. A. Edward Davis Jr. & St. John Mass Choir (feat. Omar Kane) Pure Sound Music Group (release date: September 22, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/draedwarddavisjr With “He’s Been Good,” the St. John Mass Choir echoes the rousing gospel choirs of Chicago’s Fellowship M.B., Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer, and Christian Tabernacle churches, and the famed Thompson Community Singers. A simple, repeated expression of gratitude for blessings bestowed is buoyed by hand-clapping, foot-tapping spiritual enthusiasm—direct, rhythmic, compelling, and timeless—that is as much a trademark of the Chicago gospel choir as marching up the middle aisle in colorful robes. In 2017, the ...

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“Thirsty for the Rain” – Keith Williams

“Thirsty for the Rain” Keith Williams EPM Music Group / eOne Entertainment (2015) www.epmmusicgroup.com “Thirsty for the Rain,” gospel crooner Keith Williams’ latest single, is a conventional but energetic and earnest entreaty for God to send down the rain, meaning blessings. It’s written by a committee, but an experienced one: Williams, Earnest Pugh, and Aaron Carter. While this worship anthem doesn’t take nearly as much advantage of Williams’ warm vocals as did his 2013 album Tone for Worship–there’s more call and response with the BGVs than straight-up lead work here–it will likely do well in the market because it bears lyric ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 16, 2015

“Up and Praise Em” Judah Band Xist Music (2015) www.xistmusic.com It’s hard not to be drawn in by the irresistible polyrhythms and the shoulder-rolling zoot suit feel of this mid-tempo rouser by the Judah Band. The lyrics are a simple call to get on one’s feet and praise, but the music all but compels one to clap hands and start moving in the spirit. Hailing from Indiana, the Judah Band looks for all the world like a Christian version of P-Funk, and bends music genres with the same brashness as George Clinton and company.  The Judah Band was founded in ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 9, 2015

“Yes Lord Yes” Pastor Paul Ruffin & the Forge Temple COGIC Sanctuary Choir From the Heavenly Spirit Music CD Yes Lord (2014) www.cdbaby.com/cd/pastorpaulruffinpresents Using the Church of God in Christ’s signature “Yes Lord” chant as its springboard, Pastor Paul Ruffin and the Forge Temple COGIC Sanctuary Choir of Birmingham, Alabama, construct a gospel piece out of a staccato declaration to serve the Lord. Vetrea Slack Ruffin, of the singing Ruffin Family, directs the Forge Temple choir and wrote this song, which features enough bluesy spots and classic chord progressions to pierce the heart of any traditionalist. Yes, Virginia, old school gospel ...

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“Heaven Belongs to You” – The Alabama Gurlz

“Heaven Belongs to You” The Alabama Gurlz From 4 Winds Records CD “The Gurlz” Live (2014) www.malaco.com “Y’all ready to go to church?” Stephania Johnson asks the church audience kindly. Not receiving a proper response, she growls in frustration: “Y’all don’t want to go to no church with me!” That does the trick, and the congregation connects with the Alabama Gurlz as they commence with “Heaven Belongs To You,” an evangelistic call-and-response with a jaunty tempo and led by Johnson with demonstrative insistence. The premise is simple: Heaven is yours to lose. It is a singular example of the ladies’ ...

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“Hold On” – Debbie Orange

“Hold On” Debbie Orange Debbie Orange Publishing Company (2015) www.DebbieOrange.com Chicago-based Debbie Orange’s new single, “Hold On,” is an inadvertent but ideal herald of the coming year. I doubt she intended it to be so, but her mid-tempo hand-clapper, produced by Montage Pheloan, is the kind of optimistic gospel song that, while effective year-round, is especially suited for radio play during the New Year holidays. Whereas the Cotton Brothers’ “Another New Year”—the gospel bluesy New Year’s Day radio favorite—showers appreciation on the Lord for navigating us safely through the trials of the previous year, Orange declares that we look ahead to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 19, 2015

“Hear Us” Maurice Griffin MGM Chicago Music Group www.mauricegriffinonline.com Maurice Griffin went from being in the Chicago-based gospel group New Direction to winning the Gospel Music Workshop of America Gospel Treasure competition in 2007, then to being a finalist on Season Two of BET’s Sunday Best. He was nominated for a 2013 Stellar Award for Best Artist of the Year. Part of the reason for Griffin’s upward trajectory is his vocal agility and capacity to read a praise lyric with just the right mix of conviction and pacing. He demonstrates all of this on “Hear Us,” a single that he released last ...

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