Singles

JGM Pick of the Week: October 14, 2019

“He Loves Me” Yael Hilton Light Records / eOne Music (release date: August 30, 2019) By Bob Marovich Light Records was very fortunate to sign Yael Hilton, one of the most talented female vocalists to emerge from today’s galaxy of independent gospel artists. Her newest single, “God Can,” released in September, is a singing tour de force, but it’s “He Loves Me” that has the greatest radio potential. To a brassy and infectious Motown swagger, Hilton dominates the vocal line like a seasoned soloist. She weaves blue notes and Le’Andria-like raves on this feel-good song that sounds at first blush ...

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“Revelation” – Keith Reed Jr.

“Revelation” Keith Reed Jr. (release date: August 28, 2019) www.newsoundmusicgroup.org By Bob Marovich Supported by his group, the New Sound of Worship, Keith Reed Jr. asks God in “Revelation” to reveal His life-giving light during an especially dark moment. But despite the stressful circumstances that inspired the song, including Reed finding himself out of work and almost homeless, “Revelation” is surprisingly unruffled and even-tempered. The smooth jazz arrangement, conventional melody, and easygoing vocals smooth over the drama. The Columbus, Ohio, native currently serves as minister of music for Destiny Church International under the pastorate of Apostle Theodore Caesar. “Revelation” was ...

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“Psalms 34” – Chris Wesley & Undignified Praise, feat. Dana Hemphill

“Psalms 34” Chris Wesley & Undignified Praise, feat. Dana Hemphill Undignified Music (release date: April 5, 2019) www.undignifiedpraise.com By Bob Marovich Pastor Chris Wesley plays the role of exhorter as vocalist Dana Hemphill fronts Undignified Praise on this reading of “Psalms 34.” Written by Paul Shepherd and Tramaul Love, and arranged by Patrick Wright, Roy Cotton, and Wesley, this second single by Wesley and UDP is a praise song that improvises on the line, “I will praise the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Its simple structure and melody are suited for a worship ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 2, 2019

“Take Your Burdens” Chrystal Rucker From the forthcoming album Graced for This www.habakkukmusic.com By Bob Marovich Chrystal Rucker is one of the finest gospel singers today. Whether on her own or as a featured vocalist, she can turn a good gospel song into a great one. That’s what she does with “Take Your Burdens,” a conventional song of hope and encouragement written and produced by Asaph Ward. The single gets full-barrel Chrystal. She starts out by giving the song a melodic reading, then opens up her arsenal of growls, squalls, falsetto notes, leaving the listener thoroughly bedazzled by the end. ...

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“I Choose You” – Marjane’

“I Choose You” Marjane’ J Jane Music (release date: September 19, 2019) www.marjanemusic.com By Bob Marovich Many gospel music enthusiasts know Marjane’ (pron. Mar-ja-nay) from her many awards appearances, but the Journal of Gospel Music keyed in on her vocal talent ten years ago with the release of her sophomore album, Won’t Let Go. “I Choose You,” Marjane’s latest single, is the latest example of her breezy, quiet storm style of sacred music. She expresses her love for God in a chill ‘90s retro soul mode complete with smooth BGVs and a deliberately understated rhythm section, synth, and electric piano. ...

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“Oh How Good It Is” – Byron Cage

“Oh How Good It Is” Byron Cage From the Malaco / AIR Release Isolation (release date: September 27, 2019) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Byron Cage, designated the Prince of Praise for helping popularize Praise & Worship music in African American churches, opens his new single, the cheerful “Oh How Good It Is,” with a declaration of praise. He wants to be “in the presence of the King”—so much so that it makes him want to shout, holler, and throw up his hands. Not out of anger and frustration, like Marvin Gaye, but out of joy and gratitude. Halfway through the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 23, 2019

“I Know He’s Been Good” Linda Sanders Higher Praise Records (2019) By Bob Marovich You can take the woman out of the quartet, but you cannot take the quartet out of the woman. In the case of Linda Sanders, that’s a good thing. After many years of singing gospel quartet with a number of groups, most notably the Zion Travelers of East St. Louis, and about a year providing lead vocals for a recording group called De’Vine, Sanders of St. Louis has gone solo. Her debut single, “I Know He’s Been Good” has all the components of quartet singing. Backed ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 16, 2019

“I Can Do Anything” Joanna Hale-McGill McGill Music Group (release date: June 22, 2019) From the CD New Sound, Same God Vol. 1 www.JoannaHaleMcGill.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Joanna Hale-McGill has a keen ear for song hooks. On “I Can Do Anything,” the praise & worship leader of His Will Worship Center in Slidell, Louisiana, embeds memorable hooks in the lyrics, in the music, in the bits of electronica, in the overall arrangement, and sometimes even in the spaces between. The song is an anthem of heaven-bestowed empowerment bathed in a bubbly, shoulder-shaking vibe and driven by insistent eighth notes ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 10, 2019

“Grateful” James Chappell III Independent (release date: October 5, 2018) aplazmanagementllc@gmail.com By Bob Marovich “Grateful” is a charming, smile-inducing song on its own, but add James Chappell III as lead vocalist, and it delights on two levels. In less than three minutes, Chappell channels the elastic yodels of Sam Cooke and Johnny Taylor, lofts falsetto notes like the Reverend Claude Jeter, adds a bit of Reverend Al Green southern twang, and delivers gut-wrenching growls like Joe Ligon. Backed by a quartet and with a rhythm section galloping along in mid-tempo, Chappell sounds as pleased with God’s intervention in his life ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 2, 2019

“He Worked It Out” Leah Oduro-Kwarten Ok Productions (release date: June 22, 2018) By Bob Marovich A lead vocalist with the Illinois Midwest Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Choir under Dr. Cynthia Nunn, Leah Oduro-Kwarten, better known as Lady Flo, flexes her Chicago chops on this high energy aisle walker. Lady Flo lends her smoky alto to songwriter Angela Frazier’s double-time shout of hallelujah. An effervescent group of background vocalists serves as the choir to Lady Flo’s evangelistic declamations. The “work it out” vamp is reminiscent of Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer’s “He Can Work It Out,” but without the baby needing shoes. When ...

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