Singles

“Just For Me” – Monica Lisa Stevenson

“Just For Me” Monica Lisa Stevenson Puretonez Productions (2014) www.monicazmuzik.com With Kenneth Mosley’s “Just For Me,” neo-traditional singer Monica Lisa Stevenson delivers a gospel blues that not only extols Jesus’ sacrifice for His people, but provides a song suitable for the coming Christmas season. The organ chirps and horns blast as MLS declares, “He was born to die so that I may live” and “God chose a virgin to birth out his plan / To restore relationship to every sinful man.” During what blues people might call the “low down” portion but gospel folks call the “vamp,” MLS shouts and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 8, 2014

“Mighty God” Valerie Woodard (2014) www.valeriewoodard.com Melding an ‘80s R&B musical background to a decidedly contemporary melody, much like the Clark Sisters who she cites as an inspiration, Valerie Rogers Woodard expresses her admiration for God with an infectious, shoulder-shaking rhythm. The wordless interjection in the chorus is guaranteed to get audiences singing and dancing along with her. The song is based on Psalm 150, so that is appropriate. The singer-songwriter lives in Wilson, North Carolina, and is currently preparing her sophomore project, Relationship II: Closer.

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TBGB Pick of the Week: September 1, 2014

“Deep Down” Kendra Smith From the DeVine Records Management CD Something New (2014) www.kendrasmith.org Independent artists fuel the future of gospel music. Without their hunger and desire to be heard, the genre would be in perpetual danger of stagnating. Proof positive: seventeen-year-old Kendra Smith of Florence, South Carolina. The 2012 South Carolina Music Awards Gospel Artist of the Year and Rhythm of Gospel Award nominee, indie artist Smith is a young woman with a commanding voice and confident presence. Her new single, “Deep Down,” has an old soul but a modern beat.  Smith has the love of Jesus “way down, deep down ...

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“Everything Must Change” – Dottie Peoples

“Everything Must Change” Dottie Peoples DP Musik Group (2014) www.dottiepeoples.com “Everything Must Change” is Dottie Peoples like you are not used to hearing her. Dottie doffs the traditional pulse for which she is so well known and goes Nina Simone on this slow inspirational ballad about that which is inevitable. Indeed, Simone recorded the song in the 1970s, although the original was waxed by Quincy Jones, featuring the song’s composer, Benard Ighner, on vocals. Dottie does a fine job with this contemplative song.  She transitions from jazzy chanteuse to fiery evangelist when, later in the performance, she uses the lyric, ...

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“More of You” – Canton Jones feat. Darlene McCoy

“More of You” Canton Jones feat. Darlene McCoy From the CD God City USA (2014) Cajo Records By Libra Boyd, Guest Reviewer Gospel Music Fever In one of several collaborations from his newest release, God City USA, singer/writer/producer Canton Jones teams up with songstress and radio personality Darlene McCoy for a moderately-paced Christian hip-hop performance of “More of You.” McCoy kicks off the track’s opening verse with a melodic declaration of adoration and submission before sharing the mic with Jones for a harmonic duet of the chorus: “Just give me all of You and none of me, Lord / Let Your kingdom ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 25, 2014

“A Lil’ Louder (Clap Your Hands)” Rance Allen Group Tyscot Records (2014) www.tyscot.com A gospel trio that was blurring the barriers between the music of Saturday night and Sunday morning in the late 1960s, the Rance Allen Group returns to the funky style that brought them national attention with “A Lil’ Louder (Clap Your Hands).” From the thudding bass line to Rance’s trademark shouts of spiritual ecstasy and sanctified scatting, the song encourages every listener to get on up and worship. Dance, clap your hands, stomp your feet, raise your voice, and scream, sing the group, all to punctuation from the ...

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“When the Church Begins to Pray” – Dorothy Norwood feat. Melvin Williams

“When the Church Begins to Pray” Dorothy Norwood feat. Melvin Williams From the Dorothy Norwood Music Group CD An Incredible Journey (2014) Recorded live at Reid Temple AME Church in Washington, DC, “When the Church Begins to Pray” is a paean to the power of congregational prayer. Starting in spoken word mode, Dorothy “The Storyteller” Norwood defines the premise while a contemporary choir coos behind her.  After Melvin Williams of the Williams Brothers joins in, the song becomes a shout fest between the two soloists.  The best part of the song is hearing two gospel veterans duetting.

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Pick of the Week: August 11, 2014

“Your Destiny” Kevin LeVar & One Sound From Destiny Live at the Dream Center and More… (album release date: August 12, 2014) www.kevinlevar.com Inspirational balladeer Kevin LeVar has sung his way into the hearts of many with such lovely selections as “A Heart That Forgives,” “You Are Not Alone,” and “We’re Just Getting Started,” which he wrote for his own nuptials. “Your Destiny,” from Kevin LeVar & One Sound’s new CD, Live at the Dream Center and More… is fashioned in much the same formula: easy pop melody (evocative of early Seal), dramatic delivery, and lyrics that encourage strength in ...

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“Turn Up Your Praise” – New Christianaires

“Turn Up Your Praise” New Christianaires Carter Classic Records (2014) www.thenewchristianaires.com Although Rhythm of Gospel Awardees the New Christianaires are better known for “Remember Me,” no one should overlook their shoulder-shaker, “Turn Up Your Praise.” “While you’re waiting on your change, you need to turn up your praise,” sings Jarmain Hawthorne. He encourages listeners to keep faith in their hearts and smiles on their faces. “There’s a blessing on the other side of your pain,” the quartet declares, so “open your mouth and lift up your hands.” Hailing from Florida, the New Christianaires were formed in 2010 by Minister George ...

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“It’s Gonna Happen” – Jekalyn Carr

“It’s Gonna Happen” Jekalyn Carr Lunjeal Music Group/Malaco Music Group (available on iTunes August 12) www.myjekalyncarr.net “It’s Gonna Happen” is the latest single from the seventeen-year-old from the Mid-South who brought you “Greater is Coming” and “They Said, But God Said.” In a chirpy vibrato that evokes the pre-teen Tanya Tucker, Jekalyn delivers a ballad of faith that good things will happen because God said they will. It’s the wisdom not of the aged but of youthful optimism and a steadfast belief in the substance of things not seen. Jekalyn first came to national attention when she sang “Amazing Grace” in the ...

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