Singles

JGM Pick of the Week: September 21, 2015

“Love Vs. the World” Xavier O’Connor Testimony Records (2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/xavieroconnor2 With its finger-popping beat and modern big band sound, “Love Vs. the World” pits protagonist Xavier O’Connor against a variety of anthropomorphic emotions, including jealousy, fear, and hate, that invade his space like comic book villains. But alas, just as Jesus defeated Satan, our man whips the negative emotions with that crazy little thing called love. Xavier O’Connor hails from Delray Beach, Florida. A product of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, O’Connor took classical music lessons, and attended a fine arts high school and Oakwood College. He wrote, produced, recorded, ...

Read More »

“Holy is the Lord” – Lorraine Stancil

“Holy is the Lord” Lorraine Stancil From the EP Awesome God Anointed Sounds Records www.cdbaby.com/cd/lorrainestancil1 Although Lorraine Stancil has earned a reputation as a fiery gospel singer, as on “Something About that Name” and “Awesome God,” she can deliver anthems with dignity and fullness of tone. “Holy is the Lord” is a good example of her more deliberate side. On this live selection from her Awesome God EP, Stancil hits high notes over the stave like a veteran church singer. Lorraine Stancil is a veteran gospel singer, having worked with Hezekiah Walker and the Love Crusade Choir, Youthful Praise, and ...

Read More »

“I Survived It” – Joseph Robinson & the Chosen Aggregation feat. Joshua Rogers

“I Survived It” Joseph Robinson & the Chosen Aggregation feat. Joshua Rogers AMA Productions (release date; September 22, 2015) www.thechosenaggregation.com Sunday Best Season Five champion Joshua Rogers guest solos on “I Survived It,” a neo-traditional choir piece with a rocking chair 12/8 tempo and Joseph Robinson & the Chosen Aggregation contributing thunderous harmonies. Employing a battery of gospel blue notes, Rogers and the choir gratefully acknowledge a journey filled with disappointments, heartaches, trials and tribulations, and the supreme satisfaction of overcoming it all with God’s help. The choir started out in Atlanta in 1993 as Dirk Chaney & the Chosen Aggregation. ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: September 14, 2015

“Have You Been Shook” The Sons of the Soul Revivers (2015) https://www.facebook.com/TheSonsOfTheSoulReviversOfSanFranciscoCA San Francisco quartet The Sons of the Soul Revivers barrels down in fourth gear on the drive tempo “Have You Been Shook,” singing with the alacrity of their predecessors, the Soul Revivers. Eschewing electronic keys, programmed drums, etc. for raw propulsion from electric guitar, real drum skins, bass, and shouting vocals, the Sons even sound like the former group. The main phrase is one that actually works better in the passive voice: “Have you been shook by the hand of God?”  The song must do well at live ...

Read More »

“Scream” – Ernest Billups & Tribe of Levi

“Scream” Ernest Billups & Tribe of Levi From the E’Mazin Entertainment EP It Was You (2014) Available at online music stores “Scream,” from Ernest Billups & Tribe of Levi’s EP It Was You, pulls a play from Kirk Franklin’s book of modern arrangements. Like Franklin’s “Smile,” a piano plinks out quarter notes to accompany a perky melody sung antiphonally between Billups and his ensemble. Declaring that “it’s okay to be stressed but don’t give up,” Billups put a more realistic spin on the adage of “don’t worry, be happy.” In other words, when life hands you sour lemons, go ahead and ...

Read More »

“I Tried Him For Myself” – Ellen Hayes & Harmonee

“I Tried Him For Myself” Ellen Hayes & Harmonee True Inspiration Music Group (2015) www.meetellenhayes.com A breezy but insistent mid-tempo rhythm propels this soulful selection from Detroit family group Ellen Hayes & Harmonee. On “I Tried Him For Myself,” mother (Ellen) and daughters (Harmonee) offer their testimony of God’s greatness, based on experience. He made a way, he opened doors, he opened eyes. They “know too much about Him” to disbelieve. What’s especially notable about this single is Harmonee—LaToya Bellafant, Cynthia Gross and Carmen Hayes—whose background vocals are stunning. Maybe part of it is the mixing of Grammy Award-winner Eric ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: September 7, 2015

“So Good” Melvin Williams feat. Dottie Peoples From the forthcoming album Where I Started From www.MelvinWilliams.net Melvin Williams of the Williams Brothers quartet joins the fiery Dottie Peoples in a bluesy gospel “take ‘em to church” moment. The Stan Jones-produced “So Good” is a litany of the many ways God has been good to His people throughout the ages, today, and into the future. By mid-recording, the two singers turn downright evangelistic, instructing the listener in urgent, direct tones to mind well their words. Someone who can “rescue Daniel from the lion’s den,” “turn water into wine” and “give eyesight ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: August 31, 2015

“Worthy is the Lamb” Eminence (2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/eminence2 On its first single, “Worthy is the Lamb,” New York-based gospel ensemble Eminence demonstrates kinship with the vocally aerobic sound of the late O’Landa Draper. Sections of soothing harmony on this majestic praiser transition abruptly to passages of throaty, dramatic angularity, and then back again, in a mashup of gospel and senior choir techniques. The group will garner interest for its demonstrative attack of lyric lines alone. Written by Karl Jackson with musical production by Gary Mayes, “Worthy is the Lamb” is reminiscent of 1990s gospel choirs but is as contemporary as this moment.

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: August 24, 2015

“You Can’t Give Up” Paul Porter From the Motown Gospel CD F.R.E.E. (2014) www.motowngospel.com Paul Porter lets his quartet roots show in this bluesy gospel song about staying encouraged in the midst of unbearable personal circumstances. Backed by a quartet, Porter sings and eventually shouts lyrics that contain what I call the spiritual ‘but’: sickness might be “getting worse and you don’t know what to do,” or “life for you has been so rough,” but hold on, put your trust in the Lord, and don’t give up–he will see you through. Porter knows whereof he sings. Stricken with a brain aneurysm in ...

Read More »

“Thank You, Thank You Jesus” – Chicago Mass Choir

“Thank You, Thank You Jesus” Chicago Mass Choir From the forthcoming New Haven Records CD We Give You Praise (single digital release date: September 11, 2015) www.chicagomasschoir.com The consistently top-notch Chicago Mass Choir provides a stinger of a mid-tempo praise song on “Thank You, Thank You Jesus.” Riffing lyrically on the “How I Got Over” message, the choir, led by the effervescent Evangelist Lemmie Battles, lofts praises to God for all he’s done.  A cancer survivor, Battles has a lot to be thankful for, so when she squalls during the song’s apex, you know it’s heartfelt. “Thank You, Thank You ...

Read More »