Traditional Gospel

“Weather the Storm” – Dorothy Norwood

“Weather the Storm” Dorothy Norwood Dorothy Norwood Music Group (release date: June 4, 2018) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/dorothynorwood5 By Bob Marovich Evangelist Dorothy Norwood goes into classic storyteller mode as she describes how a Houston, Texas, family is rescued from the roof of their home during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. While the recency of the event undoubtedly touched the live audience, Norwood sees the story as more than recent history: it’s a demonstration of God’s assistance “in the nick of time,” and a chance to shout “Hallelujah” for a successful ending. She peppers the song with lyric snippets about miracles, rejoicing, and joy coming in the ...

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Phil Cook – People Are My Drug

Phil Cook People Are My Drug Psychic Hotline / Thirty Tigers (release date: June 1, 2018) www.philcookmusic.com By Bob Marovich Rootsy gospel vibes abound on Phil Cook’s second solo album, People Are My Drug. A native of from Wisconsin now living in Durham, North Carolina, Cook counts among his inspirations such classic gospel artists as the Staple Singers, the Sensational Nightingales, Margaret Allison, Shirley Caesar, and Brother Joe May. It’s evident, too, in the album’s sound, its lyrics, and even in the quartet-like vamp on two tracks (“Steampowered Blues” and “Every Mother’s Son”). “Tide of Life,” which Cook and his ensemble cover, was written by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 16, 2018

“Holy Ghost” Frozene Lott Hayes LotHay Music (2018) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich You can be certain that a song titled “Holy Ghost” is going to be a church burner, and Frozene Hayes delivers on this promise. Supported by a chugging band and a choir of BGVs, Hayes sings about the exhilaration of salvation like a veteran church soloist. She has that deliciously raspy alto voice that can make “Happy Birthday to You” sound sanctified. She sang a live version of “Holy Ghost” at last month’s Rhythm of Gospel Awards, where it was named Traditional Song of the Year. It brought ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 25, 2018

“Enter His Gates” Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music From the New Day Distribution CD By Faith www.plundymom.com By Bob Marovich Minister Patrick Lundy’s musical instruction in the gospel and classical worlds are in evidence on the robust church rouser “Enter His Gates.” Taking its text from Psalm 100:4, the song features full production, a solid backbeat, and stirring singing that evokes Ricky Dillard’s work. The song belongs as much to the choir as to the single’s fiery lead singers, Beverly Reynolds and Jacqulyn Sanders. The album version transitions into a praise break—‘nuff said! The Georgia-born director and songwriter Lundy honed ...

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Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson – Keep Pushin’

Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson Keep Pushin’ Shanachie / SRT Entertainment (release date: May 4, 2018) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich It’s been 20 years since Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson appeared on the national gospel scene, introducing the traditional quartet sound to a new generation of listeners. He continues his crusade to blend the old school with the new on Keep Pushin’. Though billed as a solo project, Johnson has plenty of help from a battery of singers, including Prathan “Spanky” Williams, Josh Miles, Ray Braswell Jr., and Karen Clark. Together, they traverse musically diverse territory, though most of it remains grounded in tradition—none ...

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Bemeche’: I’m Determined – Live

Bemeche’ I’m Determined – Live BGMN Records www.Bemeche.com By Bob Marovich It’s rare these days for gospel artists to give over most of their full album to old-time songs, but that’s what Bemeche’ Hicks has done on his I’m Determined – Live. The Virginia-based music minister even invited a bonafide church wrecker to assist with his debut CD. None other than Evangelist Dorothy Norwood joins Bemeche’ on the Roberta Martin Singers theme song, “Only a Look.” It’s a treat to hear Norwood sing and squall her way through a classic that she may not have recorded before. The Storyteller then ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 29, 2018

“Prayer Changes Things” Adriann Lewis-Freeman D.A.F. Entertainment Group (release date: May 12, 2017) By Bob Marovich The former lead singer of the female gospel group RiZen takes us to church with her solo debut, “Prayer Changes Things.” Produced by her brother, Ay’Ron Lewis, and supported by effervescent background singers and musicians, the song finds Adriann Lewis-Freeman getting downright evangelistic as she advises listeners to “turn it over to the Lord” because “He will work it out and come through for you.” Lewis-Freeman sings from experience, having dealt with a cervical cancer diagnosis, the challenges of single motherhood, and having a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 21, 2018

“Keys to the Kingdom” Min. David Whitfield & Whitfield Productions, feat. Lena Starks Choirboi Records (release date: March 16, 2018) By Bob Marovich On this church rouser, Angelique “Lena” Starks, a sparkplug of a lead vocalist, breaks it down: you don’t have to be rich, or a doctor or lawyer, or even a warrior, to make it to Heaven. Just “be holy, be righteous,” she sings. Known to enjoy singing to a quick tempo, Starks gets downright evangelistic on the vamp as the choir supports her with lyric responses and handclaps. Min. David Whitfield & Whitfield Productions carries on the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 14, 2018

“I’m Determined” Bemeche’ BGMN Records (release date: April 9, 2018) www.bemeche.com By Bob Marovich This Virginia-based artist teams up with a top-shelf choir and musicians who together sound as if they came straight outta Chicago’s Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer on “I’m Determined.” A churchy up-tempo workout with jaunty piano work complements Bemeche’s conviction to run on to see what the end will be. He engages the choir in antiphonal singing and sets up a special section where sopranos, altos, and tenors layer their harmonies onto the main melody one at a time. Then the musicians drop out for a straight-up vamp. ...

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Kendrick Evans – Live Therapy Session

Kendrick Evans Live Therapy Session Rock the Cause Records (release date: September 29, 2017) By Bob Marovich Appearing on the CW docu-drama My Last Days, award-winning gospel singer Kendrick Evans of Quincy, Florida, opened up about his acute sleep apnea that doctors said would give him about three more years to live. Eschewing the surgery that would probably have ruined his voice, Evans chose to find other remedies so he could sing. And sing he does. Evans uses his Live Therapy Session as a musical variant of the mental health counseling the title suggests. He puts all of his stuff out ...

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