Traditional Gospel

JGM Pick of the Week November 1, 2021

“So Much to Thank God For” New Macedonia M.B. Church Mass Choir feat. Betty Griffin Keller From the CD Faithful (release date: September 4, 2020) https://mynmmbc.org/ By Robert M. Marovich “So Much to Thank God For” is more than a vibrant throwback choral piece from the New Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Mass Choir. It’s also a testimony for featured vocalist Betty Griffin Keller. Keller, a member of the Cleveland Singers, a soloist with the Southern California Community Choir, and a solo gospel recording artist, celebrates fifteen years of being cancer free. The abundant joy of life is evident in her ...

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JGM Pick of the Week October 25, 2021

“Open Up the Windows of Heaven” Lucinda Marie Independent (release date: August 10, 2021) www.LucindaMarieMusic.com By Robert M. Marovich Lucinda Marie, the self-described “former pastor’s wife,” puts on her stylish shouting shoes, lifts the hem of her long dress ever so slightly, and holy dances through this up-tempo piece. The lyrics, which quote from Malachi 3:10, provide Lucinda and her background vocalists plenty of room for call-and-response. She starts the long vamp with “Fill my cup” and it leads to plaudits abundant. A real stomper in the finest perspiration-drenched church-wrecking tradition. From Austin, Texas, Lucinda Marie (Taylor) has a Ph.D. ...

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Johnny Ruffin Jr. – I’m Gonna Praise the Lord

Johnny Ruffin Jr. I’m Gonna Praise the Lord JBP Music (release date: June 19, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Like Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson, Johnny Ruffin Jr. of North Carolina celebrates old-school quartet singing. That’s the feeling you get from his independently-released album, I’m Gonna Praise the Lord. While most songs have contemporary arrangements, Ruffin sings like a veteran quartet lead singer. He is most effective on covers of gospel classics like the Dixie Hummingbirds’ “So Much to Shout About” and the Jackson Southernaires’ “I Need You to Hold My Hand.” Notwithstanding the unnecessary blasts of synth, Ruffin and Stanley “Li’l ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 4, 2021

“You Fight On” Apostle James Pinckney Jr. & Voices of Faith From The Sound of Holiness (release date: November 6, 2020) https://faithtabernaclechurchofzion.com/ By Robert M. Marovich From South Carolina, the Voices of Faith choir, under the direction of Apostle James Pinckney Jr., was one of the darlings of the 2021 Rhythm of Gospel Awards weekend, winning in four categories, including Song of the Year for “You Fight On.” The up-tempo song about persistence and endurance has the soul of a wooden-church congregational hymn supported by tambourines, washboard, cowbell, and a House of God-style steel guitar. The choir sings with verve ...

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“I’m Not Tired Yet…Running for Jesus” – Calvin Bridges ft. Ann Bridges

“I’m Not Tired Yet…Running for Jesus” Calvin Bridges ft. Ann Bridges From the PNEUMA/Spirit Recordings, Inc. CD Gospel Church Generations (single release date: February 2, 2021) www.calvinbridges.org By Robert M. Marovich Although he is a talented songwriter, Calvin Bridges reaches back to the Caravans catalog for an oldie but goodie. Together with Ann Bridges, Calvin belts out this fire starter with a passel of fine supporting vocalists. Although the team takes the tempo a little slower than Inez Andrews did in 1958 and Pastor Shirley Caesar some years later, it still moves at a brisk pace. “I’m Not Tired Yet…Running ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 26, 2021

“It’s Time” Mary Glover Independent (released October 20, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich In tone, tempo, and message, Mary Glover’s “It’s Time” commands people to snap out of it, get right, act right, and be joyful in the Lord. Glover’s sassy and declarative alto, honed in the community of quartet singers, is the ideal vehicle to lift everyone out of their seats and feel the excitement she feels. As such, she evokes other powerhouse gospel singers like Monica Lisa Stevenson, Lemmie Battles, and Lisa Knowles. From Lima, Ohio, and now living in Cleveland, Glover started singing at age six and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 8, 2021

“New Orleans Medley” Jerard and Jovaun Independent (release date: December 4, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Yes, this single came out late last year and yes, whatever vestiges of Mardi Gras that were able to take place this year are but a memory, but nevertheless, the “New Orleans Medley” conjures sufficient joy to be without season. From Jerard and Jovaun Woods, a husband-and-wife duo who perform as Jerard and Jovaun, the medley sets congregational songs and gospels to New Orleans musical sass. The best part is when the couple breaks out into “What He’s Done for Me,” as a clarinet ...

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“Amazing Grace” – The McCrary Sisters

“Amazing Grace” The McCrary Sisters McCrary Sisters Productions (release date: April 30, 2021) www.mccrarysisters.com By Robert M. Marovich Only the McCrary Sisters, who could sing the phone book (remember those?) into the gospel charts, could pull off “Amazing Grace” sung to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun.” Except, that is, for the Blind Boys of Alabama, who did it originally. Still, the McCrary Sisters offer an equally intriguing, and arguably more evocative, take on this mix of regret and redemption. Daughters of the late Reverend Sam McCrary of the Fairfield Four, the McCrary Sisters—Ann, Deborah, Regina, and Alfreda—share ...

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“I Am Black and I Matter” – Lemmie Battles

“I Am Black and I Matter” Lemmie Battles DAF Entertainment Group (release date: March 26, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Since June 2020, there’s been a notable increase in gospel artists releasing singles with messages linked directly to Black Lives Matter and the racial injustice running rampant through the nation like another virus. Chicago-based singer Lemmie Battles adds her powerful, church-wizened evangelist’s voice to others with “I Am Black and I Matter.” Like Shirley Caesar’s “Take Your Knee off My Neck,” Lemmie Battles’ “I Am Black and I Matter” puts it out there unimpeded by allegory or simile. She not ...

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“Watch Him Do It” – Kendra Carr-Pineda & Redemption Faith Global Ministries

“Watch Him Do It”Kendra Carr-Pineda & Redemption Faith Global MinistriesIndieBlu (release date: December 4, 2020) Pensacola, Florida’s own Kendra Carr-Pineda leads the singers of Redemption Faith Global Ministries, where she is pastor, on the double-time “Watch Him Do It.” From the outset, rapid fire drumming on the backbeat and electronic percussion set on “praise break” set the tempo, over which the effervescent Kendra and her singers emote about the goodness of God. If it hasn’t happened yet, they instruct, don’t worry: He made a promise to you and He’s a promise keeper. Every so often, Kendra and the team slip ...

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