Urban AC Gospel

“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. ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

“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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

“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 ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

J Kingdom – Reconciled

J Kingdom Reconciled Reshift Music Group By Bob Marovich J Kingdom’s new album Reconciled bristles with bright, optimistic melodies and lyrics of unfettered praise and gratitude to God for everything He has done, even when we don’t deserve it. J Kingdom, aka Pastor Michael J. T. Fisher of Greater Zion Baptist Church in Compton, California, introduces the “don’t deserve it” part of the equation at the outset, during the opening supplication, “Keep Your Hand on Me.” He brings it up time and again throughout the album. It’s the human struggle to follow the right path but erring along the way. It all comes down, J Kingdom ...

Read More »

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 »