Traditional Gospel

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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JGM Pick of the Week: March 16, 2020

“Never Forget” Atlanta Chapter of the GMWA Mass Choir Aspire International Music Group (release date: February 22, 2020) www.atlantagmwamasschoir.org By Bob Marovich The choir representing the Atlanta Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) gives the classic Soul Stirrers hit from 1954, “Jesus I’ll Never Forget,” a distinctive choir-tet arrangement. Joining the mass choir on lead vocals is GMWA stalwart Bishop Richard “Mr. Clean” White. White, squalling vocalist Evangelist Saundra Cepeda, and the choir take the listener back to what church used to sound like—but with a twist, courtesy of jazzy chords and chord changes in the bridge. ...

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Reverend John Lee Hooker Jr. – Testify

Reverend John Lee Hooker Jr. Testify Steppin’ Stone Records (release date: February 14, 2020) By Bob Marovich “From the blues to the good news,” declares the Reverend John Lee Hooker Jr.’s website, though listening to his new album, Testify, blues has not left the building entirely. It’s just backing up lyrics of encouragement and warning instead of “Extramarital Affair” and “Pay the Rent.” Son of the legendary bluesman John Lee “Boogie Man” Hooker, Reverend John Lee Jr. received Grammy nominations for his blues albums. But a life of imprisonment, addiction, and having been being shot and stabbed forced him to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 20, 2020

“I’ll Never Stop Praising the Lord”Northern Delaware Chapter GMWA Recording ChoirEnon Music Group (single release date: November 15, 2019) By Bob Marovich With “I’ll Never Stop Praising the Lord,” the Northern Delaware Chapter Recording Choir of the Gospel Music Workshop of America continues to eke every utility from its 2016 album God Be Glorified. Whether intentional or not, Aurelius Palmer’s rollicking composition evokes Ricky Dillard and New G’s 1991 smash “More Abundantly” in its relentlessly optimistic tempo, its cascading choral parts, and its use of the phrase “He gave me life more abundantly.” The full-throated thunderous praise of the choir ...

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