Singles

“Give Him Glory” – Dr. LaTonya Earl

“Give Him Glory” Dr. LaTonya Earl Latonyaearl1@gmail.com By Bob Marovich Houstonian Dr. LaTonya Earl’s sassy single “When I Stopped Playing with Jesus” is distinctive in melody and lyric, but it’s her work on the worship ballad “Give Him Glory” that best sells her skills to the gospel music public. This simple song, with its singularly singable melody, finds Earl at her unbridled best. Like a seasoned gospel soloist, she raises the song’s temperature from cool and even to a breathless apex without coming close to going off the melismatic cliff. The independent artist Dr. LaTonya Earl has earned honors at ...

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“Way Maker” – Tonya Ware

“Way Maker” Tonya Ware From the EP Signature of God, Volume One The Success House (release date: July 19, 2019) www.tonyaware.com By Bob Marovich Back in 2006, Tonya Ware recorded her debut album, The Voice. Among its many fine cuts, the album featured a marvelous single written by Marvin Winans called “Put My Hand in Yours.” It earned Ware a Stellar Award nomination. But it was the likable “Rain” that caught my attention. Ware’s vast but not excessively flashy voice was perfect for this pop-flavored prayer for an overflow of blessings. With a successful album and an executive position with ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 20, 2019

“In My Name” Ruth La’Ontra ALJR Music Group/Tyscot Records, LLC Available on all digital outlets By Bob Marovich Ruth La’Ontra, the Stellar Award-nominated artist from Aberdeen, North Carolina, is going after radio play with her new single, “In My Name.” From her 2017 album I Got You, Ruth’s marvelous cover of the Thompson Community Singers’ 1992 hit evokes Kim McFarland’s original solo nearly note for note as the background vocalists update the song without taking away one ounce of the original flavor. It’s refreshing to hear a classic redone with as much fidelity as forward-looking fashion. Music and ministry run ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 13, 2019

“Don’t Judge Me” Kierra Sheard feat. Missy Elliott Karew Entertainment / RCA Inspiration (release date: August 9, 2019) By Bob Marovich The latest gospel-R&B mashup, “Don’t Judge Me,” teams Grammy-nominated and Stellar Award-winning Kierra Sheard of Detroit’s legendary Clark-Moss dynasty with Missy Elliott, iconic hip hop artist and soon-to-be MTV Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Awardee. In a tone of humility laced with media fatigue, Sheard sings “I just ran through the fire; please don’t judge me.” Though directly in response to those who put Sheard’s every move under a microscope, the song also serves as a rejoinder to haters everywhere ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 29, 2019

“While I Wait” Shara J Anjelica Records (release date: February 26, 2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/sharaj By Bob Marovich While the hypnotically flowing beat of “While I Wait” provides an inkling of the single’s Bahamian roots, it’s delivered with such American Pentecostal passion by Shara J that most would never know of its island origins. A worship leader in her native Bahamas, Shara J gives “While I Wait” the heart-pouring reading that the plaintive ballad requires. “You said I could come boldly before your throne of grace,” she sings, “but my heart is broken and I don’t have the strength.” It’s easy to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 16, 2019

“Praise Belongs to You” Jason Clayborn & the Atmosphere Changers Tyscot Records www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich “Praise Belongs to You,” co-written by Grammy Award-nominated gospel songwriter Jason Clayborn, author of such hits as Hezekiah Walker’s “Better” and Ricky Dillard’s “I Survived It,” is Clayborn’s debut single as an artist for Tyscot Records. Assisted by his small choir, the Atmosphere Changers, Clayborn offers a radio-ready praise anthem aided by full-bodied production, dramatic key changes, and lead vocal assists from Isaiah Freeman and Matt Austin. The Atmosphere Changers incrementally build the song’s tension with passionate and full-throated harmonies until the only place ...

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“After All These Years” – Freddi Rene

“After All These Years” Freddi Rene From the CD Guide Me www.freddirene.com By Bob Marovich On its surface, “After All These Years,” written by Carl Phillips, Gabriel Young, and producer Gregory G. Pearson, sounds like a conventional love song. But in the song’s first few seconds, Freddi Rene asserts that the source of her love is the Lord. The breezy contemporary single contains hints of Freddi’s hometown of Detroit in its Whitfield-esque jazz chord progressions and complex melody. In fact, if you slowed it down, “After All These Years” sounds like something the Clark Sisters would sing. Freddi Rene has ...

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“Something About that Name” – True Believers

“Something About that Name” True Believers From the 4 Winds CD Back to the Roots (release date: February 1, 2019) www.malaco.com The True Believers gospel quartet marvels at the wonderful name of Jesus and all the name represents on their new single, “Something About that Name.” “Something” lopes along with a gospel-bluesy strut evocative of the Caravans’ “Mary Don’t You Weep,” as periodic explosions of percussion put exclamation points on the group’s declamations. Just as Inez Andrews looked for Jesus, the True Believers’ lead vocalist Castro Coleman calls for Jesus. By the end, the entire ensemble is in joyous swing, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 8, 2019

“Amazing Grace” Rachel Hawkes Independent (release date: May 1, 2019) We know the hymn, but English singer Rachel Hawkes makes it her own with a new verse, harmonica-tight harmonies, and an easy, delightful delivery. The contrast between the thumping percussion and Hawkes’ honey-smooth voice sells the song. Classically trained—she played cello for two orchestras—Rachel Hawkes has been singing and writing for more ten years. Her cello solo on Saint-Saens’ “Le Cygne” is just as disarming as her work on “Amazing Grace.” With more than six albums to her credit, she may just be one of the best singers you’ve never ...

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“The Greater the Trials, the Greater the Blessings” – Mary Pugh & the Pugh Singers

“The Greater the Trials, the Greater the Blessings” Mary Pugh & the Pugh Singers Overboard Records (2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/marypughthepughsingers By Bob Marovich On “The Greater the Trials, the Greater the Blessings,” Grove Hill, Alabama, female quartet Mary Pugh & the Pugh Singers offers an encouraging paradox that sounds as if it came straight from the Sunday morning pulpit. “Looking back over the years / I’ve been through some storms,” Mary sings, adding that she knew God would “show up in the rain.” To reinforce its James 1:12 message about the reward of being tried by fire and enduring, the group quotes ...

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