Traditional Gospel

Pilgrim Travelers: Gospel Boogie – Rare Recordings 1946-1957

Pilgrim Travelers Gospel Boogie – Rare Recordings 1946-1957 Gospel Friend (release date: December 18, 2015) www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Per Notini of Gospel Friend has developed a handsome catalog of well-produced collections of classic gospel music that covers quartet, choir, and piano-led groups alike. His latest production, Gospel Boogie – Rare Recordings 1946-57, spotlights one of the top hit makers during gospel’s golden age: the Pilgrim Travelers. What is most striking about this 27-selection retrospective is how it aurally captures the California quartet as it altered its sound to keep up with the musical times, but without diluting one ounce of ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 23, 2015

“He’s Been Good” Dr. A. Edward Davis Jr. & St. John Mass Choir (feat. Omar Kane) Pure Sound Music Group (release date: September 22, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/draedwarddavisjr With “He’s Been Good,” the St. John Mass Choir echoes the rousing gospel choirs of Chicago’s Fellowship M.B., Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer, and Christian Tabernacle churches, and the famed Thompson Community Singers. A simple, repeated expression of gratitude for blessings bestowed is buoyed by hand-clapping, foot-tapping spiritual enthusiasm—direct, rhythmic, compelling, and timeless—that is as much a trademark of the Chicago gospel choir as marching up the middle aisle in colorful robes. In 2017, the ...

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Packin’ Up: The Best of Marion Williams

Packin’ Up: The Best of Marion Williams Marion Williams Spirit Feel/Shanachie www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich If you thought you’d heard everything Marion Williams recorded, alone or with the Ward Singers or Stars of Faith, think again. In addition to the thirteen hand-picked solo tracks by Williams’s longtime friend and producer, Anthony Heilbut (The Gospel Sound, The Fan Who Knew Too Much), Packin’ Up: The Best of Marion Williams features thirteen previously unreleased tracks. One of the unreleased gems showcases Williams with the Ward Singers at the 1957 Newport Folk Festival.  The cuts span the years 1957 to 1993.  Heilbut’s extensive ...

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Golden Crowns of Louisville, KY – Come Too Far

The Golden Crowns of Louisville, KY Come Too Far Sharp Records (2015) www.reverbnation.com/thegoldencrowns By Bob Marovich Don’t let the flagrant typo on the cover and CD scare you away. This is a case when the book should not be judged by its cover. As they demonstrate on their new Sharp Records CD, Come Too Far, The Golden Crowns of Louisville, Kentucky, are as good as any of the popular recording quartets on the road today. Their harmonies are tight, the lead singing crackles with emotion, the band is strong, though the use of synth in this and any gospel quartet, ...

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RIP Rev. Johnny “Hurricane” Jones

From Lance Ledbetter of Dust-to-Digital: Rev. Johnny L. ‘Hurricane’ Jones: 1936-2015 Sad news to report: early Monday morning we lost a gospel music legend. Rev. Johnny L. Jones succumbed to what his family believes was a brain aneurysm. It was one of our greatest honors to work with Rev. Jones on his 2009 album Jesus Christ from A to Z and the 2010 double-album The Hurricane That Hit Atlanta, which the New York Times described in the following way: “Some of these tapes are woolly, with errant screams from the congregation, feedback from the church amplifiers and rough edits, but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 9, 2015

“Yes Lord Yes” Pastor Paul Ruffin & the Forge Temple COGIC Sanctuary Choir From the Heavenly Spirit Music CD Yes Lord (2014) www.cdbaby.com/cd/pastorpaulruffinpresents Using the Church of God in Christ’s signature “Yes Lord” chant as its springboard, Pastor Paul Ruffin and the Forge Temple COGIC Sanctuary Choir of Birmingham, Alabama, construct a gospel piece out of a staccato declaration to serve the Lord. Vetrea Slack Ruffin, of the singing Ruffin Family, directs the Forge Temple choir and wrote this song, which features enough bluesy spots and classic chord progressions to pierce the heart of any traditionalist. Yes, Virginia, old school gospel ...

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Chicago Gospel History with Radio Great Milt Rosenberg

Journal of Gospel Music Editor-in-Chief Bob Marovich (pictured, left), discussed his book, A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music (University of Illinois Press), with radio legend Milt Rosenberg (center) on The Milt Rosenberg Show.  The program aired live Friday, November 6, 2015, on WCGO 1590 AM, Chicago. Iconic gospel choir conductor, arranger, and Mahalia Jackson accompanist Dr. Charles Clency (right) joined us for a lively and informative discussion of gospel music as it was birthed from, and prospered in, Chicago.  Musical highlights included selections from many of Chicago’s golden greats! So grateful for the opportunity to be a guest of Milt Rosenberg, ...

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Apostle Dr. Ross D. Garrison Jr. – We Will Worship, Volume 1

Apostle Dr. Ross D. Garrison Jr. We Will Worship – Volume One Lions Roar Productions (2011) By Bob Marovich It makes sense that Apostle Dr. Ross D. Garrison Jr.’s first live Praise & Worship CD was recorded at Love Center Ministries in Oakland, California, on July 11, 2011, exactly one year to the day after the passing of Bishop Walter Hawkins. The album, We Will Worship – Volume One, has more in common with the Hawkins Family’s choral outings than with today’s definition of Praise & Worship music. In fact, the album features so many delightfully traditional gospel elements that ...

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“Heaven Belongs to You” – The Alabama Gurlz

“Heaven Belongs to You” The Alabama Gurlz From 4 Winds Records CD “The Gurlz” Live (2014) www.malaco.com “Y’all ready to go to church?” Stephania Johnson asks the church audience kindly. Not receiving a proper response, she growls in frustration: “Y’all don’t want to go to no church with me!” That does the trick, and the congregation connects with the Alabama Gurlz as they commence with “Heaven Belongs To You,” an evangelistic call-and-response with a jaunty tempo and led by Johnson with demonstrative insistence. The premise is simple: Heaven is yours to lose. It is a singular example of the ladies’ ...

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Bishop Samuel R. Blakes – I Survived

Bishop Samuel R. Blakes I Survived Top Music Group/Fountain of Life Records/ Central South Distribution (release date: July 31, 2015) By Bob Marovich The African American church is blessed with many pastors who can sing. I mean really sing. Bishop Samuel R. Blakes is one of them. Senior Pastor of New Orleans- and Baton Rouge-based New Home Ministries, Bishop Blakes possesses those classic gravelly, pulpit-worn gospel pipes that communicate an I’ve-been-there-so-I-know honesty. His voice, which runs the gamut from shout to meaty croon, is ideal for the material on his album, I Survived, a selection of neo-traditional songs filled with wooden-church ...

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