Singles

“Thank You” – Tonya Lewis-Taylor

“Thank You” Tonya Lewis-Taylor From the CD Delayed But Not Denied www.tonyalewistaylor.com “Thank You” is a contemporary gospel song delivered energetically by Tonya Lewis-Taylor, who seems to summon her estimable vocal strength from within several vital organs to offer a declaration of gratitude to God. The background vocalists urge her on as, together, they ascend to increasing levels of passion. The song, which is the lead single from Lewis-Taylor’s debut album, Delayed But Not Denied, was recorded live in New York City and landed on the Billboard Gospel National Airplay chart at #16, right between female vocal groups Zie’l and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 25, 2015

“In His Hands” The McDonald Sisters Ra-Ola Music Inc. (release date: April 1, 2015) A family group with more than 30 years of gospel singing experience, the McDonald Sisters of Fayetteville, North Carolina, continue to represent traditional gospel quartet with their new single, “In His Hands.” To an aisle-walking, handclapping tempo propelled by distinctive southern soulfulness, the ladies put their burdens and their deliverance in God’s hands. They instruct listeners to do the same. They know whereof they speak. Members Valerie, Deborah, Evelyn, Pamela, and matriarch Priscilla have survived cancer, a stroke, and a ruptured appendix, among other challenges. The ...

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Perfection – “Totally”

Perfection “Totally” Malaco Music Group (2015) www.malaco.com On “Totally,” the members of contemporary quartet Perfection (“Word of God Speak”) declare that they are tired of fighting fate and henceforth give themselves over completely–hands, feet, and heart–to God’s will. “Less of me and more of you” is the new order, sing the group, to a robust modern arrangement. From Tennessee, Perfection is Steve Maples, Gerrod Allen, Christopher Williams, and Kelvin Lake. Tragedy struck the group this past February. Not long after the release of “Totally,” the group’s beloved manager, Barron “Baba” McGlothlin, passed away. Charles Winton Jr. is now managing the quartet.

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 18, 2015

“Hero” AsOne feat. Lamar Campbell & Spirit of Praise From the Capital Christian Music Group CD AsOne (release date: May 23, 2015) www.asoneofficial.com By Bob Marovich Lisa Wright and Theresa Bailey are AsOne, billed as the first interracial gospel duo. Backed by the estimable strength of Lamar Campbell & Spirit of Praise, “Hero” is the duo’s brisk, melodic paean to God as the ultimate warrior and superhero. Neither of the ladies is a stranger to gospel music. Wright has written songs for the likes of the Colorado Mass Choir and Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Bailey, also a songwriter, is an experienced ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 12, 2015

“All My Help” Pharis Evans Jr. & Loved Ones From the Fountain of Life CD Due Season www.facebook.com/fountainofliferecords Grammy- and Stellar-nominated singer, songwriter, and producer Pharis Evans Jr. comes from great musical stock—his uncle is Rev. Dr. Clay Evans and his father is Rev. Pharis Evans Sr. ‘Nuff said. Not surprisingly, “All My Help” is a churchy offering. It has a bouncy rhythm, simple lyrics, a playful call and response between Pharis and the choir, a quartet-worthy vamp, and a cameo by Rev. Dr. Clay Evans. It’s all part of the family tradition and part of Pharis’s own commitment to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 5, 2015

“I Need U” Criss Righteous Rank 1 Entertainment Mention the name Criss “Righteous” Johnson to those in the know, and they will tell you he is a skillful accompanist who has worked with gospel quartets for decades.  He even served as the longtime guitarist for Pastor Shirley Caesar. With “I Need U,” Criss Righteous breaks with tradition by stepping up to the mike as a solo artist. Well, not a total break with tradition—the song bleeds quartet soul, even if the beat is contemporary. Soloist or not, Criss growls that he needs Jesus, because “I can’t make it all by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 27, 2015

“Just Jesus” Bishop Jonathan Greer Released February 3, 2015 Now when is the last time you heard “Just Jesus” sung as a single? Thank God for Bishop Jonathan Greer II and his choir. They righteously reprise the good old Zion song, which Greer did originally with the Cathedral of Faith Choirs in 1994. The new version comes complete with shouting vamp and rocking chair 12/8 meter. Raised in Chicago, Bishop Jonathan Greer was called to ministry, first in Nashville, then Atlanta, where he is currently Presiding Bishop of Divine Love Fellowship Church. While at Cathedral of Faith, Greer and the Cathedral ...

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“Something Big” – Jekalyn Carr

“Something Big” Jekalyn Carr Luneal Music Group/Malaco Music Group (2015) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Young singers and pop music go together like bacon and eggs. In the gospel music industry, however, it can be more difficult for a young person to gain traction. Even though churches offer a variety of singing opportunities for young people, gospel is an experiential music—the significant demands that gospel places on the voice require a great deal of practice and training. That’s what makes Jekalyn Carr’s rise even more striking. Her remarkable performance as a pre-teen in the 2011 gospel documentary Rejoice and Shout ultimately ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 20, 2015

“But God” Pastor Judge Gardner Jr. presents The Voices of Testimony Ensemble Twitter: @LTMCHICAGO Who can resist a hand-clapping choir rouser, Chicago style? I sure can’t. “But God” by the Voices of Testimony Ensemble from the Living Testimony Church on Chicago’s Southeast Side (Judge Gardner Jr., Pastor) satisfies the appetite for a pulse-quickening pewburner. Lead vocalist Lil’ Harry sings, shouts, and wails his gratitude for God’s faithfulness in his life as the choir repeats his lines and at the end chants “But God” with metronomic steadiness like the Chicago Mass Choir. “I could have been dead, sleeping in my grave…but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 13, 2015

“I Am Free” Ladell Cole From the CD I Am Free www.cdbaby.com/cd/ladellcole2 Singer-songwriter Ladell Cole lofts falsetto notes over this gentle, hand waving anthem of eternal gratitude to Jesus for the price he paid to purchase the world’s freedom. The melody is lovely and the key change adds just the right amount of punch to the concluding chorus. Ladell Cole is worship pastor at Christ Fellowship Church in Tampa, Florida, and organizer of the city’s popular Worship United celebration.  The song is the title track from Cole’s sophomore album, released last August.

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