Singles

“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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“Wanna Be” – Wincey

“Wanna Be” Wincey Winceyco Music (2015) www.winceycomusic.com Wincey Terry-Bryant’s “Wanna Be,” co-written with musician Ted Brancato, is an ironic play on the definition of a person who seeks the spotlight but lacks the talent to get there.  The kind of “wanna be” Wincey sings about is one who wants to live not only according to her God-given purpose but aspires to follow the tenets and precepts of a loving Jesus. The bridge of this delicate and breezy retro soul gospel could use more oomph, but the singing and production are so well done that it doesn’t get in the way ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 6, 2015

“Pray” Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir From the CD Pray (released February 2015) www.brooklyntabernacle.org Lead vocalist Timiney Figueroa sings passionately about the power of prayer as the wave of delicious sound that is the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir rolls over her in giant washes of majestic harmony. The song is the title track of the multicultural choir’s 29th album since its founding by Carol Cymbala in 1973. Of this live recording, Cymbala says: “With so many tragic events happening in the world today, Pray serves as a reminder of the importance of having a relationship with Jesus, because communion is what He longs ...

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“On the Other Side of Through” – Prez Blackmon

“On the Other Side of Through” Prez Blackmon www.cdbaby.com/cd/prezblackmon5 Over a churchy flourish of warbling organ, Prez Blackmon, of the Stellar-nominated duo Renee Spearman & Prez, traverses up and down the treble scale as he waxes melismatic on the theme, “there’s a blessing on the other side of through.” Background vocalists join him on this slow, bluesy gospel song of encouragement, complete with rocking chair tempo. Camille Grigsby and Cassandra Renee Grigsby-Chism take over the vamp, asking for God’s help to make it to that other side where the blessings flow. Sweetly, warmly traditional.

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 30, 2015

“Forever I Will” Lonnie Hunter feat. Structure From the forthcoming Tyscot CD #GETITDONE www.lonniehuntermusic.com Recently signed to major gospel label Tyscot Music and Entertainment, the Stellar Award-winning singer, choir director, Radio One show host, former male model, Air Force veteran, and native Chicagoan Lonnie Hunter wasted no time getting a new single to market. Written by Davie Moore, “Forever I Will” is the first single release from Hunter’s forthcoming Tyscot album, #GETITDONE. It is a dramatic, radio-friendly contemporary ballad reminiscent of Kirk Franklin’s early work. Hunter serves as minister to Structure’s congregation as they combine praise with supplication.

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 23, 2015

“Just For Me” Tim Spady feat. Jeff Murrell Available on iTunes (release date: March 20, 2015) https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/just-for-me-feat.-jeff-murrell/id978825762 The always-melodic songwriter Tim Spady of Philadelphia teams with vocalist Jeff Murrell on the Easter-themed “Just For Me.” Over Spady’s dramatic and semi-classical musicianship, Murrell praises Jesus for paying the price “just for me.” His tear-stained tenor is the ideal medium for this song about the ultimate sacrifice.

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 16, 2015

“Persona” Corey Barksdale www.coreybarksdalemusic.com “I know this for myself / I don’t have to be like anyone else.” Corey Barksdale drops into a finger-popping acoustic groove to declare that he’s done listening to what other people think he should be. God knew what he was doing when he made me, he sings, and that’s all there is to it. Besides, “everybody fails at being just like somebody else.” This breezy, inspirational selection gives the vocally flexible Barksdale space to run up and down the bass and treble clefs like stair steps.

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“I Know a Man Named Jesus” – Shawn Brown & Da Boyz

“I Know a Man Named Jesus” Shawn Brown & Da Boyz 4 Winds Records (2015) www.malaco.com To a spanking backbeat and driving mid-tempo groove, Shawn Brown & Da Boyz of East St. Louis, Illinois, declare to their live audience that they know a man “who will make a way.” The answer to the rhetorical question is “Jesus,” and Brown and the group hammer home the point by exhorting “Jesus” back and forth during the song’s vamp. Their call-and-response akin to a preacher and his congregation, Shawn Brown & Da Boyz go old school on this neo-traditional composition. The quartet’s live CD, ...

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