Traditional Gospel

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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“Hold On” – Debbie Orange

“Hold On” Debbie Orange Debbie Orange Publishing Company (2015) www.DebbieOrange.com Chicago-based Debbie Orange’s new single, “Hold On,” is an inadvertent but ideal herald of the coming year. I doubt she intended it to be so, but her mid-tempo hand-clapper, produced by Montage Pheloan, is the kind of optimistic gospel song that, while effective year-round, is especially suited for radio play during the New Year holidays. Whereas the Cotton Brothers’ “Another New Year”—the gospel bluesy New Year’s Day radio favorite—showers appreciation on the Lord for navigating us safely through the trials of the previous year, Orange declares that we look ahead to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 12, 2015

“You Should Have Been There” Virginia Aires www.VirginiaAires.com The Virginia Aires’s new single is a mid-tempo rouser with a backbeat that exudes the sheer joy of personal salvation. The before and after effects of being saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost is a familiar narrative in gospel music. It nearly always receives the spirited vocal and musical treatment that the Virginia Aires employ, and for good reason.  When “your feet get light,” it’s no time for contemplation or drama. About midway through the vamp, the quartet shifts from the personal to the communal, asking how many in the ...

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Sue Roseberry – Magnificent God

Sue Roseberry Magnificent God (2013) www.sueroseberry.com By Bob Marovich The notes from the Hammond B3 sounded like Reveille in the morning fog. The organ’s beckoning warble at the opening of track six, “I’m Blessed,” was a sign that we were about to hear the “Mama Sue” Roseberry of BET Sunday Best fame, the solid singer who successfully portrayed her inspiration, Mahalia Jackson, on the stage. That’s not to take away from the handful of songs preceding “I’m Blessed” on Roseberry’s live album, Magnificent God, recorded at the 2013 Gospel Music Workshop of America Board Meeting. They are professionally produced expressions ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 7, 2015

“So Good” Melvin Williams feat. Dottie Peoples From the forthcoming album Where I Started From www.MelvinWilliams.net Melvin Williams of the Williams Brothers quartet joins the fiery Dottie Peoples in a bluesy gospel “take ‘em to church” moment. The Stan Jones-produced “So Good” is a litany of the many ways God has been good to His people throughout the ages, today, and into the future. By mid-recording, the two singers turn downright evangelistic, instructing the listener in urgent, direct tones to mind well their words. Someone who can “rescue Daniel from the lion’s den,” “turn water into wine” and “give eyesight ...

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The Jones Family Singers – Live from Mt. Zion

The Jones Family Singers Live from Mt. Zion Arts + Labor (2015) www.thejonesfamilysingers.com By Bob Marovich At one point in Live from Mt. Zion, Alexis Jones, the force of nature who is the Jones Family Singers’ primary lead vocalist, says the group gets asked why they don’t sing rock and roll. Oh but we do, she explains. “I can rock in Jesus and I can rooolllll in the Holy Ghost!” Spiritual rocking, rolling, swaying, and dancing are compulsory accompaniments to the Jones Family Singers’ devotional repertory—from the group, the live audience, and the at-home listener. And for good reason. Live ...

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Pastor Waverly B. Bumbrey Sr. Presents “Seasons” Live

Pastor Waverly B. Bumbrey Sr. Presents Refuge Temple Cathedral Voices “Seasons” Live www.refugetempledetroit.org By Bob Marovich One might surmise from its title (and the image of a red bow on the cover) that “Seasons” Live is a Christmas CD. Indeed, the strains of “O Come All Ye Faithful” seep through on a selection called “Bumbrey’s Worship,” but otherwise this project by a Detroit church choir is an all-seasons release. Featuring the choir and leadership of Refuge Temple Cathedral of His Glory, notably Supt. Waverly B. Bumbrey Sr., First Lady Patricia Bumbrey, and the Refuge Temple Cathedral Voices, “Seasons” Live is ...

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