Urban AC Gospel

Cheryl Fortune – Simply Cheryl

Cheryl Fortune Simply Cheryl LuDawn Music / Tyscot Records (release date: October 13, 2017) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich On a selection from her album Simply Cheryl, gospel singer-songwriter Cheryl Fortune sings: “You don’t know the half of it, and I just can’t tell it all.” Cheryl, a background vocalist for Kirk Franklin and the wife of gospel artist James Fortune until their marriage dissolved over his domestic abuse, may not tell it all but we get the drift. The album’s coded references to her recent personal history are exactly what we would have expected from this, her debut solo album.  Anything else would have ...

Read More »

G.I. – Winning

G.I. Winning BGA Records / Shanachie (release date: September 8, 2017) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Depending on your political point of view, “winning” can be a timeless mantra or a creepy coded message. For Richmond, Virginia’s G.I., however, winning is not a political football but a forgone conclusion. Just believe. With God, they sing, it’s already done.  For you. Comprised of Branden Anderson, Lamonte Harris, and Rufus Johnson III, G.I. (aka God’s Image) is a harmony trio that falls somewhere between a modern quartet and a gospel group. Surrounding themselves with electronica, trap, hip hop, R&B, and other elements of urban ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: October 16, 2017

“Just Like You” Freewill Available October 20, 2017 http://hyperurl.co/f07w9w By Bob Marovich Will Robinson, aka Freewill, teams up with producer Jor’Dan Armstrong on “Just Like You,” an inspirational song about the importance of moving beyond the cultural divide, “past the drama and the issues,” to the realization that we are, deep down, all the same. A schoolteacher from Atlanta, Georgia (and a Chicago White Sox fan, apparently), Freewill explains the song’s concept: “I believe we have a lot more in common than we think, but our differences sometimes stop the opportunity for us to have an open dialogue.” He gets this ...

Read More »

Royce Lovett – Love & Other Dreams

Royce Lovett Love & Other Dreams Motown Gospel (release date: July 14, 2017) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Royce Lovett is one of the most distinctive voices on the Motown Gospel roster. Not surprisingly, his new album, Love & Other Dreams, is as artistically unpredictable as its creator. The guitar-playing Tallahassee, Florida, singer-songwriter splashes a palette of neo-soul on coded messages about survival in modern society. The album feels like a somnambulant journey of a soul gasping, as if drowning, for the oxygen of freedom. Where can lung-expanding oxygen be found?  Lovett answers on the album’s hypnotic current single, “Up for Love:” it’s in the clouds, where there are ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: July 11, 2017

“So Good” Bri (Release date: June 9, 2017) Available from digital music outlets By Bob Marovich When on “So Good” Bri (Briana Babineaux) sings “God’s been so good to me,” there are plenty of reasons for her to express that sentiment. In a relatively short period of time, she went from unknown to YouTube sensation to Billboard-charting artist to multiple Stellar Award winner. But here, she focuses instead on the victory God has given her over the metaphorical shackles that once bound her down spiritually. Her newest single is buoyed by a quick-step tempo and BGVs that return every ounce ...

Read More »

CASS: Genesis – Second Season

CASS Genesis – Second Season http://officialcass.com By Bob Marovich Genesis – Second Season is the debut full-length solo album for New Zealand-based Christian singer/producer CASS, aka Cassandra Kanda. It follows on the heels of the Season 1 EP she produced to test the waters of recorded music ministry while completing a three-year church internship. To support her unpretentious lyrics of praise and love for God, CASS leaps more confidently into the pool of hook-laden, beat-built pop music than most gospel artists dare. Viscous keyboards burble in space. Electronic riffs transition into Cinemascope-sized blossoms. Beats, hooks, riffs, and rhythmic lyric lines come ...

Read More »

De’Leon – Church Boy Soul (EP)

De’Leon Church Boy Soul EP We Here Now Music Group (release date: April 14, 2017) www.deleoncarr.com By Bob Marovich A member of some of the top gospel choirs of their day and now a 2017 Rhythm of Gospel Award winner, De’Leon Carr offers a cornucopia of sounds, styles, and messages on his EP, Church Boy Soul. The EP’s high point is the brisk opening track, “He Will Take Care.” De’Leon and his choir reach back to classic gospel for this one, which I first heard a church choir sing in 1984, likely taking its lead from the Thompson Community Singers’ ...

Read More »

Tauren Wells Releases Debut Solo Album “Hills and Valleys” June 23; Opening for Lionel Richie

(Nashville, TN) – June 8, 2017 – Reunion Records/Sony Music Entertainment announces the anticipated release of Tauren Wells’ new solo LP Hills And Valleys. The digital-only deluxe edition features 15 songs and releases June 23. A physical version of the album, featuring 11 songs, will debut July 21. To create the unique combination of sounds heard throughout Hills And Valleys, Wells, a two-time GRAMMY® nominee, collaborated with a variety of seasoned producers from the musical worlds of R&B, funk, pop, Gospel, urban and AC. Working alongside Chuck Butler, Jordan Sapp, Casey Brown, Colby Wedgeworth and Bernie Herms, Wells also partnered ...

Read More »

Hello, Dolly: Gospel Artist Jermaine Dolly Offers a “Different Dynamic of Being a Christian”

By Bob Marovich In 2012, Jermaine Dolly, a background vocalist for Tye Tribbett, began toying with becoming a solo gospel artist. But he set it aside. Growing up, the southwest Philadelphia native never thought of being an out-front performer. “I was happy singing background,” Dolly told the Journal of Gospel Music. “Happy being a keyboardist at my church. If I’m comfortable somewhere, I don’t move.” But things changed dramatically for him on May 25, 2014. “[That day] I heard the voice of God, that it was time to move on from singing background and pursue my own career. When God ...

Read More »

Pastor Marlon Lock – Unleashed (EP)

Pastor Marlon Lock Unleashed (2016) www.pastormarlonlock.com By Bob Marovich “You Covered Me,” a single from Stellar Award-nominated Pastor Marlon Lock of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, made JGM’s Pick of the Week last June. It appears on his EP, Unleashed, a collection of seven cuts that showcase Lock’s urban adult contemporary approach to mostly introspective songs and stories about one’s relationship with God. While I am a proponent of hiring a group of musicians versus having the computer do it all, the electronically engineered low-key accompaniment for most of the selections seems to fit the album’s confessional vibe. The lead track and single, ...

Read More »