Singles

“Going” – Christina Bell

“Going” Christina Bell Malaco Music Group (2018) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich When I first heard the Shreveport, Louisiana, female gospel group Zie’l singing a Ward Singers classic a cappella at the 2005 Gospel Music Workshop of America, I knew then it would be a group to watch. Though Zie’l tended to favor the smooth-and-sassy style of Virtue on their Genesis and Pronounced ZY-EL albums, their finest moments came when they worked within gospel’s firm foundations, such as on “Purify Me,” “Surely God is Able,” and “Is My Living in Vain.” Nevertheless, they always sounded better live. One of the principal ...

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“Turn Right and Go Straight” – Roscoe Robinson

“Turn Right and Go Straight” Roscoe Robinson ABKCO Music & Records (release date: June 29, 2018) By Bob Marovich On the subject of veteran travelers of the gospel highway, Roscoe Robinson has been singing gospel quartet, with a notable side trip as a national soul artist, since the early 1950s. “Turn Right and Go Straight” is Robinson without his recent quartet, the Birmingham Blind Boys, and with a roadhouse band, rocking electric guitar riffs, and righteous background vocalists.  In solid voice, Robinson employs travel directions as a metaphor to help the sinner guide his way to “the pearly gate.” The ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 10, 2018

“Cycles” Jonathan McReynolds feat. DOE From the eOne Music album Make Room (2018) By Bob Marovich Jonathan McReynolds and DOE (Dominique Jones of Forever Jones) go together like bacon and eggs. Musically, they are the Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of Christian music. Their duet on the delicately acoustic and introspective “Cycles” has the simplicity of a living room jam session, though the presence of a live and engaged audience places a larger frame around the presentation. Lyrically, it is part prayer, part mantra, both seeking strength to overcome whatever life challenges the devil tries to throw at them. This ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 3, 2018

“Working for My Good” Brandon Mitchell & S.W.A.P. feat. Lisa Knowles-Smith From the BAMSWAP Music album Amazing By Bob Marovich Once again, an AyRon Lewis production makes our list: “Working For My Good,” by Brandon Mitchell & S.W.A.P. (Singers With A Purpose). This selection, rendered in the 12/8 “rocking chair” time signature, belongs as much to the effervescent Lisa Knowles-Smith as to the Mitchell group. Like Dorinda Clark-Cole, Lisa turns the temperature up anytime she is a featured vocalist. She doesn’t just recommend faith in God as the ultimate balm, she demands it. When Mitchell shouts, “Let’s take it to Mississippi,” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 27, 2018

“The Great I Am” Shree Isabell Kamasia Music (release date: September 28, 2018) www.shreeisabell.com By Bob Marovich “The Great I Am” is an explosive new single from Evangelist Shree Isabell, a member of Dr. Bobby Jones’ Nashville Super Choir. Through the retelling of biblical stories about freeing the Israelites and God’s appearance to Moses, Shree and her BGVs offer examples of God as way maker.  Shree’s point is that if God made a way years ago, he will make one for you today. The musicians match Shree’s vocal strength with eight cylinders of their own muscle. Together, the team functions like an engine without ...

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“Silent Night” – Eddie Ruth Bradford

“Silent Night” Eddie Ruth Bradford Eddie Ruth Bradford Music (2018) By Bob Marovich Eddie Ruth Bradford could sing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and it would sound carved out of the Mississippi hills. So it’s no surprise that the Clarksdale, Mississippi, native turns the Christmas classic “Silent Night” into a slice of southern soul as sticky as peach cobbler and just as tasty. She’s assisted by a vocal harmony group and a band with an organ that peeks out of the rhythm section to toss warbled notes like pixie dust. Another win for the “Delta Breeze.”

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 19, 2018

“On Time” Bishop Larry D. Trotter & Sweet Holy Spirit Choir From the forthcoming Utopia Music Group CD Restored! By Bob Marovich Bishop Larry Trotter’s Sweet Holy Spirit Church on Chicago’s South Side is doing its part to “bring the choir back” (as if it ever left) with “On Time.” The radio-friendly single contains the fiery, full-voiced, no-nonsense sound that listeners come to expect from the Sweet Holy Spirit Choir. The message of God stepping in “right on time” is timeless, and when combined with the pulsating tempo at which the choir moves, the song should bring everybody to their ...

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“I’ve Got Joy” – Reggie Campbell feat. Celia King Murray

“I’ve Got Joy” Reggie Campbell feat. Celia King Murray Fresh Fire Records and Publishing (release date: January 15, 2014) www.reggiecampbell.com By Bob Marovich From Gospel Image Award-winning singer Reggie Campbell’s CD of the same title, “I’ve Got Joy” is an appropriately up-tempo celebration of a fullness of heart. Taking his cue from James 1:2, Campbell sings the glory down in a full but flexible baritone. The quite fantastic Celia King Murray joins him midway through the song to echo the “pure joy” one feels in getting from God “a brand new start.” Later, the background vocalists interpolate the cascading “joy” section from Ricky Dillard ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 13, 2018

“He Worked It Out” The Tommies Reunion Tyscot Records (release date: October 26, 2018) www.tommiesreunion.com By Bob Marovich Darius Brooks, Percy Bady, and a hand-picked group of key members of the Thompson Community Singers from its fifteen-year reign as one of the most influential gospel choirs in America (1982-1997) come together for “He Worked It Out.” Short, simple, and to the point, “He Worked It Out” is the “it’s already done” message bathed in characteristically animated Tommies harmonies, a muscular brass section led by Lloyd Barry, and a rhythmic swagger to catch the attention of those who weren’t even born ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 5, 2018

“Waiting on Jesus” True Believers 4 Winds Records (release date: October 23, 2018) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich On “Waiting on Jesus,” Castro Coleman and the True Believers exude gobs of enthusiasm about the coming of the Lord. Using the tried-and-true call-and-response format, the group sings about fasting and praying until the great day comes. The song moves with that slow-strutting tempo and the crashing drum backbeat characteristic of deep southern soul gospel quartet singing. The lyrics and music are ready-made for extroverted physical movement by audience and quartet alike. Coleman is no stranger to gospel music. He traces his roots back ...

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