Traditional Gospel

The Gospel Angels – I Still Remember

The Gospel Angels I Still Remember Next Level Publishing (2004) www.thegospelangelsdc.com By Bob Marovich I Still Remember has been around for more than a decade—it was released the year the Journal of Gospel Music was born, in fact—but this album by the Gospel Angels of Washington, DC, is worth revisiting because it is emblematic of how much musical fun saving souls can be. First, of the eleven tracks, five are up-tempo selections, more hip-slapping than just about any gospel quartet CD I’ve heard in a long while. One might conclude that the high percentage of “drive tempo” songs is because ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 22, 2015

“Something About That Name” Lorraine Stancil Anointed Sounds Records (2015) I’m rather stoked about the recent release of so many traditional-style gospel singles, including this one by Psalmist Lorraine Stancil-Lawson. Product of the Pentecostal church, Psalmist Stancil is known to kick off her shoes just like Shirley Caesar, and on “Something About that Name,” she shouts and squalls like Pastor Caesar in full throes of sanctified passion. Stancil’s call and response with the background vocalists/choir heightens the tension to the point where she emits a couple of dog whistle soprano notes. Also like Caesar, Lorraine Stancil-Lawson has entered the ministry. ...

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Gospel Memories: Remembering Emanuel AME in Charleston

The June 20, 2015 episode of Gospel Memories on WLUW Chicago includes a long set in memory of the victims and their families, and all the members of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  Gospel music helps us mourn, helps us heal, helps us remember.  May this kind of tragedy never happen again. Click on the Gospel Memories icon at left to listen to the entire show (the “in memoriam” set begins around 19:25).  JGM’s Bob Marovich is host.

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Michael Corcoran on Washington Phillips and the “Manzarene”

Historian and journalist Michael Corcoran uncovered a myriad of hitherto unknown facts about Texas pianist and Church of God in Christ member Arizona Dranes.  Those findings were revealed in He Is My Story (Tompkins Square), a resplendent extended essay that accompanied a reissue of Dranes’s 1920s-era recorded material.  Dranes is often cited as gospel music’s first recording artist. By Jove, Michael Corcoran’s done it again, this time for another largely forgotten but no less important Texas musician, Columbia recording artist Washington Phillips. Here is a link to Corcoran’s article from Arts + Labor. http://www.artslabormagazine.com/juneteenth-wash-phillips-son-of-slaves-makes-music-for-the-ages

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 15, 2015

“I’ll Stand” Lady Voncile feat. Pastor R. L. Bush http://gloryboundrecords.bigcartel.com To the whirring of an organ and sassy opening licks from a guitar and piano, Lady Voncile Belcher delivers this church-ready solo about faith with flatfooted conviction. She hands the microphone to the Reverend R. L. Bush, who gives the verse a thorough working over in his preacher/quartet leader rasp. Later, they duet while the background vocalists reply antiphonally. If this performance was recorded live, you’d hear the saints in the background, shouting encouragement. The release concert for her latest CD, Phenomenal, on which “I’ll Stand” is included, takes place ...

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J. B. Smith: No More Good Time in the World for Me

J. B. Smith No More Good Time in the World for Me Dust to Digital (2015) www.dust-digital.com By Bob Marovich There is something bone chilling about hearing lonesome blue notes echoing off prison walls. That’s what folklorist and historian Bruce Jackson captured when he recorded the unaccompanied singing of Mr. J. B. Smith, Prisoner No. 130196, at Ramsey State Farm in Rosharon, Texas, in 1965 and 1966. Only three of the many field recordings Jackson made of Smith were released at the time. Thanks to No More Good Time in the World For Me, from Lance Ledbetter’s Grammy Award-winning Dust ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 25, 2015

“In His Hands” The McDonald Sisters Ra-Ola Music Inc. (release date: April 1, 2015) A family group with more than 30 years of gospel singing experience, the McDonald Sisters of Fayetteville, North Carolina, continue to represent traditional gospel quartet with their new single, “In His Hands.” To an aisle-walking, handclapping tempo propelled by distinctive southern soulfulness, the ladies put their burdens and their deliverance in God’s hands. They instruct listeners to do the same. They know whereof they speak. Members Valerie, Deborah, Evelyn, Pamela, and matriarch Priscilla have survived cancer, a stroke, and a ruptured appendix, among other challenges. The ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 12, 2015

“All My Help” Pharis Evans Jr. & Loved Ones From the Fountain of Life CD Due Season www.facebook.com/fountainofliferecords Grammy- and Stellar-nominated singer, songwriter, and producer Pharis Evans Jr. comes from great musical stock—his uncle is Rev. Dr. Clay Evans and his father is Rev. Pharis Evans Sr. ‘Nuff said. Not surprisingly, “All My Help” is a churchy offering. It has a bouncy rhythm, simple lyrics, a playful call and response between Pharis and the choir, a quartet-worthy vamp, and a cameo by Rev. Dr. Clay Evans. It’s all part of the family tradition and part of Pharis’s own commitment to ...

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“Duchess of Gospel” LaVarnga Hubbard Has Better Coming

By Bob Marovich Gospel music has had its share of fathers and mothers, kings and queens, princes, crown princes, princesses, godfathers, thunderbolts, wonder boys, and boy wonders, but as far as I know, only one duchess: Lady LaVarnga Hubbard. When Hubbard opens her mouth to sing, she channels the best of gospel’s traditional church-raised no-nonsense female shouters. Born in Chicago, LaVarnga (pron. luh-VARN-juh) Hubbard was nine years old when she began singing for Christian Doctrine Baptist Church, under the pastorate of Rev. Herman Billingsley. She joined Chicago Mass Choir when it was still called James C. Chambers and the Ecclesiastes ...

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The Gospel Angels – Turn It Around

The Gospel Angels Turn It Around (2012) www.thegospelangels.com By Bob Marovich The Gospel Angels of Washington, DC, have traveled the country and the world for more than three decades, serving up heaping helpings of church wisdom with a savory traditional gospel quartet flavor. Some of the songs on the group’s current album, Turn It Around, are newly composed, but all have an old school vibe. The whole CD rolls along like a live performance without an audience. Opening with the hip-slapping “Let Me Lean on You,” the quartet blends bright tempo numbers with songs that stretch out for several minutes—just as the ...

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