Singles

“I Gotta Do Better” – Jon Plair

“I Gotta Do Better” Jon Plair www.jonplair.com With “I Gotta Do Better,” singer-songwriter, producer, musician, and COGIC PK Jonathan Plair admonishes those “slacking in their praise” to do better.  Do better, he exhorts, and you will change your life. The song is conventional in melody and arrangement, but Plair and his female background singers, who do most of the vocal heavy lifting, give “Better” an energetic reading.  And do I hear real honest-to-God brass in the background? Plair, who at age 25 founded Plair’s Music Institute of Performing Arts, also serves as vice president of Agape Jurisdictional Music Department under Bishop ...

Read More »

TBGB Pick of the Week: July 21, 2014

“I Believe” Dr. Marcus Cosby & the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Mass Choir From the 2012 CD Oh to Be Kept By Jesus (Anniversary Edition) Available on Amazon.com “I Believe” is a robust, stadium-sized praise anthem and assertion of personal belief from the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Mass Choir of Houston, Texas.  The orchestral flourishes come courtesy of the Nashville String Machine. The passionate song turns out to be the final recorded solo for the church’s music minister, the late Henry “Hanq” Neal.  A Fort Wayne, Indiana, native and former member of the Pentecostal Ambassadors and Donald Vails Choraleers, Neal ...

Read More »

“Beautiful” – Wincey

Wincey “Beautiful” From the CD Time to Say (2012) www.winceyco.com Wincey Terry-Bryant’s “Beautiful” is an acoustic love song to God, though it could also be an acoustic love song to another person, or even encouragement to one’s self, for that matter. Its lithe, lilting melody is lovely and in sync with other tracks on the Jersey City, New Jersey, native’s debut album, Time To Say, which she began recording in 2008 and released four years later. Although it may have difficulty breaking into gospel radio, which currently favors a denser, more flamboyant form of praise, “Beautiful” is the kind of ...

Read More »

TBGB Pick of the Week: July 7, 2014

“Amazing Worth” Charles Butler & Trinity feat. Jeremiah Hicks From the EPM Music Group CD Better www.epmmusicgroup.com Gospel enthusiasts first became aware of Washington, DC’s Charles Butler & Trinity when the ensemble backed Earnest Pugh on his 2009 hit, “Rain On Us.”  In February 2013, the group released its debut album, Better, on Pugh’s EPM Music Group imprint. “Amazing Worth” is the latest single release off of Better.  While the song follows Pugh’s formula for delivering graceful P&W anthems, the passion of the singers is what sells it. Together with the musicians, Jeremiah Hicks and Trinity eke every ounce of ...

Read More »

“Worthy God” – M. Roger Holland

“Worthy God” M. Roger Holland From the forthcoming GIA CD Building Up the Kingdom www.giamusic.com M. Roger Holland gives what could be just another P&W ballad a richness through a nuanced arrangement complete with strings, background vocalists, canny melodic changes, and expert use of dynamics.  His voice is a mix of Luther Vandross and Peabo Bryson (two of his inspirations), especially at the song’s apex.  His tenor nearly leaps out of the speakers when he holds notes and leaps into falsetto. The musicality is not surprising.  In addition to vocalist, Holland is a pianist, organist, composer, arranger, and symphony director.  ...

Read More »

“Jesus Can Work It Out” – Pastor Greg Harris

“Jesus Can Work It Out”Pastor Greg Harris Sabbath Day Records www.sabbathdayrecords.com Not the more famous Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer/Christian Tabernacle song, this “Jesus Can Work It Out” articulates the same message nonetheless.  Little Rock, Arkansas’ Pastor Greg Harris extols Jesus as the best doctor and the best lawyer.   Harris interpolates a line from Dianne Williams’ classic vamp for the Cosmo version, but the rest of the song is his.  A thump beat and backing vocal group give the song a quartet feel.  Earthy.

Read More »

TBGB Pick of the Week: July 1, 2014

“All of My Help” North Carolina Community Choir feat. Luther Barnes From the 4 Winds Records CD A Story To Tell www.malaco.com The North Carolina Community Choir does it again.  The choir’s latest single, “All of My Help,” is another example of how traditional gospel music structure never goes out of style.  That’s because it stirs up deep-seated emotions, from the meaty lyrics and hefty harmonies to the measured church melody, 12/8 rocking chair rhythm, and warbling B3.  Luther Barnes’s lead and the choir’s response build to a strong conclusion guaranteed to get arms waving and saints to shouting. The single ...

Read More »

TBGB Pick of the Week: June 23, 2014

“Hello Sunshine” Kyla Jade (released May 23, 2014) www.kylasings.com For her debut solo single, Kyla Jade, lead vocalist for Dr. Bobby Jones’ Nashville Super Choir, revisits “Hello Sunshine,” the late 1960s hit for the choirs of Jessy Dixon and Rev. Maceo Woods.     It’s an excellent choice for Kyla’s friendly, expansive soprano.  She rides the melody like a surfer on a wave, navigating its ebbs and flows through to the denouement. Some gospel purists may grimace at the bouncy contemporary arrangement, but keep in mind how modern “Hello Sunshine” was when it came out more than 40 years ago.  Nevertheless, ...

Read More »

“I’m More Than a Conqueror” – Ajaay Swindell & Company

“I’m More Than a Conqueror” Ajaay Swindell & Company www.ajaayswindell.com As much affirmation as prayer, “I’m More Than a Conqueror” is a hard-hitting, rock-fueled contemporary gospel that encourages the listener to remain steadfast in belief.  It is performed in the style of James Fortune & FIYA, with lead vocalist Ajaay Swindell interjecting spoken declarations as the six-member vocal ensemble maintains the melody.  Ajaay Swindell hails from the same family that produced the famous Swindell Brothers, a popular gospel quartet and recording artists of the 1950s and 1960s.

Read More »

TBGB Pick of the Week: June 16, 2014

Anointed By God “I Give You My All” One Voice Media (released March 18, 2014) Available on Amazon and iTunes Fabulous gospel vocalist LeJuene Thompson leads this lovely ballad of unbridled discipleship.  Anointed by God added Sharonda Walker-Mitchell, Carla Barnes, and Cachet Morganfield to make the background more sweetly treble-focused, and it works.  This West Memphis, Arkansas, teen group won a 2013 Stellar Award for Children Project of the Year, and is nominated for two Rhythm of Gospel Awards.  Not bad for a group formed only four years ago!

Read More »