Traditional Gospel

JGM Pick of the Week: September 7, 2020

“Alright” Bishop Larry Trotter & Sweet Holy Spirit Choir From the forthcoming album Restored By Bob Marovich Bishop Larry Trotter and the choir of his Sweet Holy Spirit Church on Chicago’s Southeast side offer encouragement in the full-throated, hand-clapping, church-wrecking style emblematic of the Windy City gospel choir sound. In a sandpaper-rough baritone, Trotter sings about “heartaches and pains,” as the choir answers him with a reassuring “alright, it’s gonna be alright.” But it’s the fiery vocalist Betty Lott who sells the song. She works the audience and duets with Trotter as, with the choir, they interpolate a bit of ...

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Fisk Jubilee Singers – Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary Album)

Fisk Jubilee Singers Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary Album) Curb (release date: August 10, 2020) www.fiskjubileesingers.org By Bob Marovich On the eve of the sesquicentennial of its founding, the Fisk Jubilee Singers have released an album more musically and culturally diverse than any of its other recordings, going back more than a century. Founded in 1871 to raise funds for a young and financially-struggling Fisk University, the Fisk Jubilee Singers toured the U.S. and Europe, ultimately raising the needed funds but also triggering a jubilee-singing phenomenon emulated by other HBCUs as well as by commercial troupes. Jubilee singers also gave ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 13, 2020

“Someday” Shirley Murdock feat. Beverly Crawford, Kelly Price and Regina Belle From Live: The Journey (initial release date: 2011; re-released as single: 2020) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Back in 2011, when “Someday” was initially released as part of Shirley Murdock’s Tyscot album Live: The Journey, this is what I had to say: “Someday” features les quatre femmes – Murdock, Beverly Crawford, Kelly Price and Regina Belle – seeking world cooperation during these days of social ills. The four harmonizing on stage together provides enough energy to run a small town for one day, and suggests they take their gospel show ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 15, 2020

“Be Alright”Dexter Walker & Zion MovementIntersound (release date: May 29, 2020) By Bob Marovich It’s hard to believe, but on “Be Alright,” the award-winning Chicago gospel choir Dexter Walker & Zion Movement moved the needle on its effervescence-o-meter, already at fever pitch, further to the right. The song’s message is appropriate for all times, but especially for this time: keep the faith, trust in God, and everything will be all right. Lead vocalist Jazmine Jones shouts, squalls, and otherwise wrecks the church on this frenetic and relentless musical cousin of a praise break. The choir responds with full-throated section work ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 9, 2020

“Stand On His Promises” Tamika Patton feat. Pastor Korey Mickie (release date: May 22, 2020) www.TamikaPattonMusic.com By Bob Marovich Philadelphia native and fiery gospel singer Tamika Patton sings the stuffing out of this double-time church wrecker that encourages those who “stumble and fall” to keep going, “lean on the Lord,” and “stand on His promises.” Pastor Korey Mickie interjects with impassioned evangelism. The single, written by Patton and the late Eric B. Franks, also of the City of Brotherly Love, was produced and arranged by Ramon Shelton. It moves with the motive force of praise break music, which, for many, ...

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Look to the Hills – Rev. Luther Barnes & the Restoration Worship Center Choir

Rev. Luther Barnes & the Restoration Worship Center Choir Look to the Hills Shanachie Entertainment / SRT Entertainment (release date: May 29, 2020) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Listening to the title track and lead single of Reverend Luther Barnes’ latest album, I revisited a thought I’ve had for some time: Barnes has emerged as today’s most important representative of traditional-flavored gospel music. The heartwarming and optimistic “Look to the Hills,” made all the more heartbreaking by the recent passing of its co-writer, Derrick Adams, is the latest in a string of hits crafted in the southern choir-tet sound, pioneered by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 4, 2020

“Keep Running” Jimmy Hicks feat. Diana Hicks Blacksmoke Music Worldwide By Bob Marovich Jimmy Hicks has a knack for making his singles feel as if they have one foot in the church and the other on the musical stage. “Born Blessed,” “Blessed Like That,” and “God’s Got It” are just three visually-evocative tracks he has released over the past fifteen years or so. Jimmy and Diana Hicks use their latest creation, the peppy “Keep Running,” to thank God for getting them through the challenges of several decades, and to encourage those who feel lost during this new decade. Employing the ...

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“Man from Galilee” – DK. Dru feat. Bishop Rance Allen, Paul Porter, and Chris Byrd & True Victory

“Man From Galilee” DK. Dru feat. Bishop Rance Allen, Paul Porter, and Chris Byrd & True Victory SRT Entertainment (release date: February 7, 2020) By Bob Marovich This celebration of Jesus’s miracles and ode of gratitude for his ultimate sacrifice is an intergenerational pile-on of top-shelf singers—from Bishop Rance Allen and Paul Porter to DK. Dru and Chris Byrd & True Victory. It’s also a mashup of styles, with Allen and Porter shouting and squalling like quartet lead singers as Chris Byrd & True Victory provide spirited but polished choral harmonies. By the conclusion, “Man From Galilee” feels like a ...

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Calvin Bridges – Gospel Church Generations

Calvin Bridges Gospel Church Generations PNEUMA / Spirit Recordings, Inc. (release date: October 8, 2019) By Bob Marovich Despite its unassuming packaging, Calvin Bridges’ Gospel Church Generations offers plenty of songs, old and new, for choir directors and worship leaders to teach their groups. Bridges, a singer, songwriter, director, and teacher, is perhaps best known for writing Albertina Walker’s career comeback song, “I Can Go to God in Prayer.” He’s written many other songs, too, and has fronted several groups. His new solo album, Gospel Church Generations, recorded live at Chicago’s historic Greater Harvest Baptist Church (Elder Eric Thomas, Pastor), ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 14, 2020

“While Traveling Through” Shonda English feat. Lemmie Battles From the forthcoming album Travelin’ (release date: March 13, 2020) By Bob Marovich Combine the sanctuary-honed talents of Shonda English and Lemmie Battles, veteran musician Richard Gibbs, and David Walker & High Praise of Atlanta, Georgia, and you have the ingredients of an old-fashioned church rouser, low country handclap and all. “While Traveling Through” doesn’t disappoint. English and Battles sing and shout the glory down as they remind the listener that since this “barren world” is not our home, we are just travelers on our way to a better place. English is ...

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