Traditional Gospel

“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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JGM Pick of the Week: September 28, 2020

“Wade in the Water” Miss Freddye MMM Records www.missfreddye.com By Bob Marovich Many know Pittsburgh’s Freddye Stover, aka Miss Freddye, as an award-winning blues singer. Her musical roots, however, run deep in the church. Miss Freddye pays tribute to her sacred foundation by releasing “Wade in the Water” as her latest single. She combines her church and blues training into a righteous reading of the folk spiritual. Assisting are vocalist Kim Parent and a musical backdrop that includes a suitably-warbling organ. You can see in your mind’s eye the Leslie speaker’s innards spinning. Produced by Mike Morgan and arranged by ...

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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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