Urban AC Gospel

“You Deserve My Praise” – M’Renee

“You Deserve My Praise”M’ReneeFrom the EP You Deserve My Praise (2014)www.mreneemusik.com By Bob Marovich “Chosen” might be the single, but the title track of M’Renee’s EP You Deserve My Praise is more memorable.  It is an uncomplicated rhythm and praise offering that bristles with the sunny electronica and perky beat of today’s pop radio. That’s the way the Richmond, Virginia, songstress rolls. Her arrangements tend to be aerobic, the melodies and lyrics optimistic and encouraging. It’s worship and dance music blended into a ball of steady rolling energy. “You Deserve My Praise” is characteristic of her catalog.

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“It’s Like Fire” – Lady Bartee

“It’s Like Fire” Lady Bartee BRG Records (2018) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/ladybartee By Bob Marovich Lady Bartee sounds a little like Janelle Monae or the late Amy Winehouse on the amalgam of sonic intensity that is her latest single, “It’s Like Fire.” Raised Pentecostal, Bartee knows a thing or two about Holy Ghost fire, and she expresses it with barely restrained passion on this haunting and atmospheric minor-keyed song. Less a melody than a repeated riff that ebbs and flows in intensity, “It’s Like Fire” marches fearlessly forward and ends with sky-raking crackles of thunder that presuppose the lightning. A native of Poughkeepsie, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 8, 2019

“Go” Trin-i-tee 5:7 From the DarkChild Music CD A Project of Healing (2018) By Bob Marovich In the context of A Project of Healing, Fred Jerkins’ various artists CD from which it comes, “Go” represents more than a reunion of Angel and Chanelle of Trin-i-tee 5:7. It also represents, in lyric and arrangement, the unsettling emotions that come with moving forward on faith. The ladies are like two voices in one’s head, trying to come to terms with the shock of the present and the uncertainty of the future. Jerkins and DarkChild Gospel’s various artists album is as much a bear ...

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“Deepest Part of You” – Doe Jones

“Deepest Part of You” Doe Jones (digital release: October 23, 2018) By Bob Marovich Most of the gospel music world knows Doe (Dominique) Jones from her work with Forever Jones, and particularly her lead on the family band’s breakout hit, “He Wants It All” (though Doe’s “Most of All,” from Forever Jones’s second album, is my personal favorite). But there’s much more to this woman than a years-old hit single. If the devil had his way, she’d be writing pop melodies in LA and making millions, but she is one of the most committed, true-blue worship artists you are likely to find. ...

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Christon Gray – Clear the Heir

Christon Gray Clear the Heir Fo Yo Soul/Essential Sound/RCA Inspiration (Sony Music) (release date: October 19, 2018) www.christongray.com By Bob Marovich Christon Gray has never been a shrinking violet when it comes to challenging the status quo of Christian music in style, arrangement, and lyric content. On Clear the Heir, his latest full-length offering, Gray drives forward the autobiographical narrative he began on his earlier releases with a frothy fusion of hip hop, rap, dramatic recitations, and even symphonic strings. Clear the Heir also contains some of Gray’s most radio-friendly work to date. The album’s provocative lyrics catch listeners up on the dramatic episodes in ...

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“Reset” – Jonathan J. Wimbush

“Reset” Jonathan J. Wimbush From The Calling (EP) www.jonathanjwimbush.com By Bob Marovich Christian urban contemporary artist Jonathan J. Wimbush rode “Reset” and The Calling EP from which it came through the 2018 Rhythm of Gospel Awards this summer. He garnered three statues in the process. To a taffy-like gait of burbling electronica and background vocals, Wimbush rues on “Reset” that he wishes there were a magic button or magic potion to help him get his life back in order (he was inspired in part by the iconic Staples’ “Easy” button). In the bridge, he unveils what that reset is: prayer. Watching the ...

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Jabari Johnson: “A Raphael Saddiq Who Sings Gospel”

By Bob Marovich It’s not unusual to hear how a gospel song touched someone’s life. Every now and then, you even hear about how a gospel song saved someone’s life. But what about when a song saves the life of its own creator? That is the story behind “Have Your Way,” the new single from singer, songwriter, and musician Jabari Johnson. “Two years ago, I was getting ready to commit suicide,” Jabari said. “But God gave me the lyrics [to ‘Have Your Way’]. I sang the song at an event in Houston that night, and my breakthrough happened. Ever since ...

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Koryn Hawthorne – Unstoppable

Koryn Hawthorne Unstoppable RCA Inspiration (release date: July 13, 2018) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Hearing just the first few bluesy bars of the Jimi Hendrix-like fuzz guitar that open Koryn Hawthorne’s “Warriors,” the opening track on her full-length solo album, Unstoppable, you know you are in for a sonic adventure. Hawthorne combines the relentless vocal energy of Lady Gaga and the power praise of Cheryl Fortune with the out-of-the-box innovation of Royce Lovett. Producer Warryn Campbell, no stranger to pop-infused gospel, helps facilitate this mélange of sound, while the lyrics remain grounded in praise, worship, and inspiration. Those who watched Hawthorne rise ...

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“We Livin'” – Tina Campbell

“We Livin’” Tina Campbell From the Gee Tee Creative / Malaco Records album It’s Still Personal (release date: September 29, 2017) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Tina Campbell is “livin’ that blessed life” but, as you’ll hear, there’s two interpretations of that statement. On her latest single, “We Livin’,” Tina, one-half of the Mary Mary gospel duo, sings that your high life isn’t so high if God isn’t a part of it. She acknowledges that people want to live big, garnering material wealth and respect, and she doesn’t disparage it.  She herself has reaped rich rewards in her singing career.  But at ...

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Gene Moore – The Future

Gene Moore The Future Motown Gospel (release date: July 28, 2017) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich It doesn’t take hearing gospel artist Gene Moore singing “Summer Soft” to feel Stevie Wonder’s inspiration throughout Moore’s EP, The Future. “Summer Soft” is the bonus track on a project that has a Wonder feel all over it (sans harmonica), especially during its more rhythmically animated tracks. And it’s available on Motown Gospel, so there’s that connection to Wonder’s roots, also. Moore’s voice, like Wonder’s, is handsome, flexible, and melodic. Yet it is only when he is singing with a minimum of accompaniment, as on the ...

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