Traditional Gospel

David Wright – Let the Organ Play

David Wright Let the Organ Play Godfather Records (release date: February 12, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Typically, we hear Pastor David Wright leading the New York Fellowship Mass Choir. For Let the Organ Play, the choir takes a rest and Wright lights up the Hammond B3 to play an instrumental litany of church favorites. The album’s song selection includes COGIC favorites (a variation on the “Yes Lord” chant and the infrequently-recorded “This is the Church of God in Christ”), classic gospels and hymns, and contemporary pieces, such as “Oh Happy Day,” the New Jersey Mass Choir’s “Praise Him,” and ...

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Chicago Mass Choir Takes Hometown Honors for Best Gospel Entertainer of the Year at 39th Annual 2021 Chicago Music Awards

CHICAGO, IL —International ambassadors of gospel music Chicago Mass Choir were recently honored as Best Gospel Entertainer of the Year at the 39th Annual Chicago Music Awards, which honors the Windy City’s finest in musical and spoken word artistry across every genre. This is the third time they’ve received this prestigious award (2021, 2015, 2012) since the group’s inception in 1988. Officially renamed Chicago Mass Choir in 1990, their 17 Billboard-charting albums have garnered numerous Dove, Grammy, and Stellar Award nominations as well as a Stellar Award for Best Traditional Choir for their We Give You Praise project in 2017. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 1, 2021

“You Kept Me” Rev. Luther Barnes & the Restoration Worship Center Choir Shanachie Entertainment / SRT Entertainment www.shanachie.com By Robert M. Marovich Like the title track of the Reverend Luther Barnes and the Restoration Worship Center Choir’s five-star album, Look to the Hills, the new single “You Kept Me” has traditional gospel roots but sufficient musical heft to garner the ear of today’s listeners. Barnes’ pleading lead (you can always count on a solid vocal from the veteran quartetter) is a gush of gratitude to a God who never gave up on him. On the album-length version, the assembly builds ...

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“Keeper” – De’Leon Carr ft. Duranice Pace

“Keeper” De’Leon Carr ft. Duranice Pace From the Enon Music Group CD Life Is (release date: February 19, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Before gospel singer Duranice Pace passed away on January 14, 2021, she was the featured singer on a track from De’Leon Carr’s new album, Life Is. “Keeper,” originally written and recorded by Bishop Eric McDaniel, finds the two singers blending their distinctive voices on a song of gratitude to God for blessings received and obstacles avoided. To the traditional gospel waltz tempo, Durance and De’Leon slowly build the temperature to evangelistic as they take turns declaring God’s ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 15, 2021

“Pick You Back Up” Michael David Harrison feat. Beverly Crawford Independent (release date: January 31, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich If the jaunty piano opening doesn’t wake the dead from their slumber, Beverly Crawford’s characteristic evangelistic vocalizing will do the trick. Pick You Back Up” was produced by Linton Weems and penned by up-and-coming songwriter Michael David Harrison. Originally from Virginia but now living in Houston, Harrison mines that churchy traditional vibe to provide this unsubtle reminder that when you stumble and fall into the arms of the devil, the Lord is there to pick you up. If you are ...

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The Frierson Brothers – Breakthrough

The Frierson BrothersBreakthroughJ.E.F. Records (release date: November 23, 2020)www.friersonbrothers.com By Robert M. Marovich There are so many links to gospel music history on the Frierson Brothers’ Breakthrough that it would be hard for the album to not feel a little like a church revival. First, the album, produced by Derrick Lee and east coast gospel stalwart James Perry, was recorded live at Newark’s Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church under Pastor Elton T. Byrd. With his wife Louberta “Lady” Byrd, Pastor Byrd has ministered for years over records and radio. Second, Rev. Milton Biggham offered the use of his Mount Vernon Baptist ...

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“I’m Not Ashamed” – Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Paul Porter

“I’m Not Ashamed” Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Paul Porter Puretonez Productions (release date: September 8, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich You can’t go wrong pairing Monica Lisa Stevenson and Paul Porter on a song brimming with evangelism. The two traditional vocalists sing and shout like veteran evangelists as the musicians and BGVs offer shoulder-shaking support. Former Christianaires member Porter lofts falsetto notes while Stevenson digs deep to deliver bluesy runs. Their most simmering singing occurs during the vamp, when they move, like preachers, from a reasoned to a more emotional testification. “I’m Not Ashamed” is written by VaShawn Mitchell and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 16, 2020

“Lord Give Me Another Chance” Apostle John E. Ross feat. Sean Scales & Tamara Lloyd Independent (preorder release date: November 13, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich A vocal duo of Sean Scales and Tamara Lloyd delivers a single so churchy that it all but stands up and testifies. A passionate plea for forgiveness, “Lord Give Me Another Chance,” written and arranged by Apostle John E. Ross, is fueled by the traditional gospel blues base and the 12/8 time signature that some elders call the “rocking chair” rhythm. Lead singer Scales offers fine singing at all ranges, from stave-topping falsetto flights ...

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“Nobody Can” – Calvin Suggs feat. Paul Porter

“Nobody Can” Calvin Suggs feat. Paul Porter Alegacy Records (release date: October 30, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich I’m not certain who originated the line, “Can’t nobody can do me like Jesus,” as it appears to predate Andrae’ Crouch, who popularized it with the Disciples at Carnegie Hall in 1973, and the Reverend James Cleveland with the Charles Fold Singers in 1975. Nevertheless, Prophet Calvin Suggs and Paul Porter build “Nobody Can” around that same “can’t nobody” sentiment. They don’t mail in their emotions but shout like two preachers, their vocal repartee testifying to the Lord’s saving power and protection ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 19, 2020

“One More Time” Cynthia Adams Sound of Chayil (release date: June 19, 2020) By Bob Marovich From the countrified guitar intro and the hand clapping rhythm to the spirited vamp, Cynthia Adams’ “One More Time” takes listeners to church, and not just any church, but the little wooden church on the hill. Adams rejoices about the simple things, like being given another day of life to “be in the service.” She takes nothing for granted, singing and occasionally squalling as the background vocalists answer her like a congregation. Produced by Willie Thomas and Ron Rawls, “One More Time” is the ...

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