Traditional Gospel

JGM Pick of the Week: March 1, 2021

“You Kept Me” Rev. Luther Barnes & the Restoration Worship Center Choir Shanachie Entertainment / SRT Entertainment www.shanachie.com By Robert M. Marovich Like the title track of the Reverend Luther Barnes and the Restoration Worship Center Choir’s five-star album, Look to the Hills, the new single “You Kept Me” has traditional gospel roots but sufficient musical heft to garner the ear of today’s listeners. Barnes’ pleading lead (you can always count on a solid vocal from the veteran quartetter) is a gush of gratitude to a God who never gave up on him. On the album-length version, the assembly builds ...

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“Keeper” – De’Leon Carr ft. Duranice Pace

“Keeper” De’Leon Carr ft. Duranice Pace From the Enon Music Group CD Life Is (release date: February 19, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Before gospel singer Duranice Pace passed away on January 14, 2021, she was the featured singer on a track from De’Leon Carr’s new album, Life Is. “Keeper,” originally written and recorded by Bishop Eric McDaniel, finds the two singers blending their distinctive voices on a song of gratitude to God for blessings received and obstacles avoided. To the traditional gospel waltz tempo, Durance and De’Leon slowly build the temperature to evangelistic as they take turns declaring God’s ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 15, 2021

“Pick You Back Up” Michael David Harrison feat. Beverly Crawford Independent (release date: January 31, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich If the jaunty piano opening doesn’t wake the dead from their slumber, Beverly Crawford’s characteristic evangelistic vocalizing will do the trick. Pick You Back Up” was produced by Linton Weems and penned by up-and-coming songwriter Michael David Harrison. Originally from Virginia but now living in Houston, Harrison mines that churchy traditional vibe to provide this unsubtle reminder that when you stumble and fall into the arms of the devil, the Lord is there to pick you up. If you are ...

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The Frierson Brothers – Breakthrough

The Frierson BrothersBreakthroughJ.E.F. Records (release date: November 23, 2020)www.friersonbrothers.com By Robert M. Marovich There are so many links to gospel music history on the Frierson Brothers’ Breakthrough that it would be hard for the album to not feel a little like a church revival. First, the album, produced by Derrick Lee and east coast gospel stalwart James Perry, was recorded live at Newark’s Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church under Pastor Elton T. Byrd. With his wife Louberta “Lady” Byrd, Pastor Byrd has ministered for years over records and radio. Second, Rev. Milton Biggham offered the use of his Mount Vernon Baptist ...

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“I’m Not Ashamed” – Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Paul Porter

“I’m Not Ashamed” Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Paul Porter Puretonez Productions (release date: September 8, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich You can’t go wrong pairing Monica Lisa Stevenson and Paul Porter on a song brimming with evangelism. The two traditional vocalists sing and shout like veteran evangelists as the musicians and BGVs offer shoulder-shaking support. Former Christianaires member Porter lofts falsetto notes while Stevenson digs deep to deliver bluesy runs. Their most simmering singing occurs during the vamp, when they move, like preachers, from a reasoned to a more emotional testification. “I’m Not Ashamed” is written by VaShawn Mitchell and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 16, 2020

“Lord Give Me Another Chance” Apostle John E. Ross feat. Sean Scales & Tamara Lloyd Independent (preorder release date: November 13, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich A vocal duo of Sean Scales and Tamara Lloyd delivers a single so churchy that it all but stands up and testifies. A passionate plea for forgiveness, “Lord Give Me Another Chance,” written and arranged by Apostle John E. Ross, is fueled by the traditional gospel blues base and the 12/8 time signature that some elders call the “rocking chair” rhythm. Lead singer Scales offers fine singing at all ranges, from stave-topping falsetto flights ...

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“Nobody Can” – Calvin Suggs feat. Paul Porter

“Nobody Can” Calvin Suggs feat. Paul Porter Alegacy Records (release date: October 30, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich I’m not certain who originated the line, “Can’t nobody can do me like Jesus,” as it appears to predate Andrae’ Crouch, who popularized it with the Disciples at Carnegie Hall in 1973, and the Reverend James Cleveland with the Charles Fold Singers in 1975. Nevertheless, Prophet Calvin Suggs and Paul Porter build “Nobody Can” around that same “can’t nobody” sentiment. They don’t mail in their emotions but shout like two preachers, their vocal repartee testifying to the Lord’s saving power and protection ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 19, 2020

“One More Time” Cynthia Adams Sound of Chayil (release date: June 19, 2020) By Bob Marovich From the countrified guitar intro and the hand clapping rhythm to the spirited vamp, Cynthia Adams’ “One More Time” takes listeners to church, and not just any church, but the little wooden church on the hill. Adams rejoices about the simple things, like being given another day of life to “be in the service.” She takes nothing for granted, singing and occasionally squalling as the background vocalists answer her like a congregation. Produced by Willie Thomas and Ron Rawls, “One More Time” is the ...

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RIP: Rev. John Wilkins, Gospel Singer and Musician

By Bob Marovich Gospel music collector and enthusiast John Glassburner informed JGM that the Reverend John Wilkins, son of blues singer Robert Wilkins, passed away October 6 at age 76 after a two-month battle with COVID-19. Bob Mehr of the Memphis Commercial Appeal does a far better job than I could writing Rev. Wilkins’ obituary, so please read it here:https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2020/10/06/rev-john-wilkins-obit-dies-memphis-music-blues-gospel/5902177002/ Here is a video of Rev. Wilkins cutting a 78 RPM record for The 78 Project: Here is JGM‘s review of Rev. Wilkins’ five-star album, You Can’t Hurry God (Fat Possum Records, 2010): http://journalofgospelmusic.com/gospel/reverend-john-wilkins-you-cant-hurry-god/. JGM sends its condolences to Reverend Wilkins’ ...

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David Billingsley – Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room

David Billingsley Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room Intersound (release date: May 15, 2020) www.billingsleymusic.com By Bob Marovich Having reviewed pianist David Billingsley’s second album, House of David, Volume One, JGM now works backwards to review his debut, Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room. A musician and arts educator, Billingsley dives into the hymnbook as if he’s heard and performed these songs his whole life, which of course he has. He imbues the timeless melodies with the respect and dignity they deserve, accentuating them deftly rather than obscuring them with an overabundance of runs and ornamentation. That’s not to say that Billingsley ...

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