Traditional Gospel

JGM Pick of the Week: November 11, 2019

“Leave It Alone” Alvin Darling From the Emtro Gospel CD Leave It Alone (release date: September 20, 2019) By Bob Marovich From singer, songwriter, pastor, and Stellar and Dove Award nominee Alvin Darling comes “Leave It Alone,” a quartet-flavored roof-raiser. The verses string together familiar church aphorisms while the chorus sums it up: “God can fix it better than you can.” An agreeable lead vocal with ample support from background vocalists and musicians evoke Darling’s zesty 2003 album, Waiting Right Here. His foundation in quartet and Pentecostal music is evident throughout the single, which is short and simple but effective.

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Various Artists – No Other Love

Various Artists No Other Love: Midwest Gospel 1965-1978 Tompkins Square (release date: November 8, 2019) www.tompkinssquare.com By Bob Marovich Its playlist culled from the seemingly-limitless catalog of indie artists and labels, Tompkins Square’s various artists collection No Other Love is full of honest, unbridled soulfulness. There is no large record company smoothing out the rough edges for commercial viability. Unlike the top gospel stars of the day who sustained their ministries by singing full-time, the artists on No Other Love typically limited their appearances to weekends because they had day jobs (that included the pastors). They appeared on local programs, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 4, 2019

“Saved” April Hall Enon Music Group (release date: March 27, 2019) By Bob Marovich The featured soloist on Damon Little’s 2016 Billboard-charting “I Won’t Be Defeated,” April Hall returns with her own single, “Saved.” This new take on a traditional song finds Hall singing with austerity while the musicians and background vocalists move at double time. Halfway through, she drops the austerity and begins to deliver her trademark church-wrecking shouts, growls, and whoos, learned from a lifetime of listening to gospel quartets in her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. By the end, you can imagine her engaging in a holy dance. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 28, 2019

“I’ve Decided to Make Jesus My Choice” Marcel McManus Sr. Independent (release date: September 4, 2018) By Bob Marovich Sometimes you just need to hear gospel done the old fashioned way, like they used to do in church: solo voice and piano. A young man with an old soul, Marcel McManus Sr. accompanies himself on piano on a cover of Harrison Johnson’s testimonial, “I’ve Decided to Make Jesus My Choice.” The singer takes what was originally arranged for choir and turns it into a solo spotlight, offering up a host of vocal flowers and frills while staying true to the ...

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Joseph Price & the Prince of Peace Choir – Do You Know

Pastor Willie E. Kirkpatrick Presents Joseph Price & the Prince of Peace Choir Do You Know Prince of Peace (release date: August 2, 2019) www.princeofpeacechurchstl.com By Bob Marovich Though Prince of Peace Baptist Church in Berkeley, Missouri, has served the St. Louis area for nearly a century, its choir just cut its debut full-length recording last October. It’s not that the church’s music ministry hasn’t made a record before; I know of at least one single that its Choral Club released on the Serenity label years ago. This is, however, the first full-length recording by the current iteration of Prince ...

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Put the Whole Armour On: Female Black Gospel – The 1940s and 1950s

Various Artists Put the Whole Armour On: Female Black Gospel – The 1940s-1950s NarroWay (release date: October 18, 2019) www.gospelfriend.se By Bob Marovich (as originally featured in Living Blues) “If it wasn’t for the women, you wouldn’t have church.” This quote, which accompanies a vintage photograph of three African American women lifting their hands heavenward, is not only featured prominently in Put the Whole Armour On, a two-CD tribute to 1940s and 1950s female gospel artists, but it serves as an apt prelude to the collection. That is, notwithstanding the prominence of women in African American churches, most denominations did ...

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The Jewell Gospel Trio: Many Little Angels in the Band

The Jewell Gospel Trio Many Little Angels in the Band NarroWay Records (release date: October 18, 2019) www.gospelfriend.se By Bob Marovich (as originally featured in Living Blues magazine) Any discourse on music of the Church of the Living God, Pillar and Ground of the Truth, Jewell Dominion typically turns to its sacred steel tradition with only incidental mention of the singing that takes place within denominational walls. Filling this void is Many Little Angels in the Band, NarroWay’s superb survey of the Jewell Gospel Trio, a female group from Nashville, Tennessee, raised in this African American Pentecostal sect. The Jewell ...

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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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RIP: Tessie Hill, Gospel Singer

Marcel West of Detroit, Michigan, informed the Journal of Gospel Music that gospel singer Tessie Hill-Ackey passed away on July 28, 2019. Born October 9, 1934, in Monroe, Georgia, Madame Hill migrated at a young age to Detroit, Michigan. She later became lead vocalist of the choir at the church shepherded by her husband, the late Pastor Lonnie Hill. The Original Church of God in Christ Choir, which for a time included a young Rance Allen on guitar, made albums for Savoy Records during the 1960s. Hill’s vivacious, expressive voice led many of the choir’s selections. Hill had a solo ...

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“It’s Praying Time” – Frozene Lott-Hayes

“It’s Praying Time” Frozene Lott-Hayes Lothay Music (release date: February 1, 2019) By Bob Marovich To a live audience at Mt. Gilead Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, traditional gospel singer Frozene Lott-Hayes renders this mid-tempo golden oldie with lyrics that are (unfortunately) as pertinent today as they were back when the Miami Mass Choir did it more than twenty years ago. “Wars and rumors of wars. . .earthquakes, famine, and diseases,” Frozene declares, reminding listeners that if ever there was a time to pray, it’s now. Her shifts from straight singing to growling to shouting are ideal for this song, ...

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