Praise & Worship

“Bow Down” – Christina Bell

“Bow Down” Christina Bell From the Malaco CD For His Glory www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich It’s not easy being the psalm to follow the popular Psalm 23 (“The Lord is My Shepherd”). Nevertheless, Psalm 24 has plenty of wonderful imagery to offer and Christina Bell must agree. The former Z’iel member sets its opening lines to a bracing P&W rhythm on her new single, “Bow Down.” From Bell’s September 2019 debut album for Malaco Music Group, “Bow Down” is the kind of aerobic selection frequently employed today to open worship services. Though Bell’s contralto has plenty of depth and shading, ...

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All Nations Music – Come Alive (EP)

All Nations Music Come Alive EP RCA Inspiration (release date: July 3, 2020) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Dr. Matthew L. Stevenson III needn’t worry about his sacred music bona fides. Stevenson’s great-grandfather was the Reverend Elijah Thurston, founder of Chicago’s historic 44th Street Baptist Church, which produced many pioneering gospel singers and musicians. Thurston was also one of Mahalia Jackson’s favorite preachers. Stevenson’s great-grandmother, commanding gospel vocalist Ora Lee Hopkins, was a member of the Willie Webb Singers, the original Caravans, and director of the city’s New Nazareth Missionary Baptist Church choir. While acknowledging and respecting his family’s roots in ...

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“Heal Our Land” – Kassandra McGhee

“Heal Our Land” Kassandra McGhee (release date: April 2020) http://www.kassandramcghee.com By Bob Marovich On her new single, “Heal Our Land,” Chicagoland-based singer-songwriter Kassandra McGhee takes for her text 2 Chronicles 7:14. Without mentioning the pandemic once, you know instinctively that this gentle, acoustic ballad is a prayer for global healing during COVID-19. In many ways, it doubles as a mantra for such a time as this. Despite being written and recorded during the pandemic, with all of the stay-at-home measures to accommodate, this is McGhee’s best song to date. John King at Manifested Works gave the song its final touches. ...

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“Free to Worship” – Minister James Willis & Nu Praze

“Free to Worship” Minister James Willis & Nu Praze Independent (release date: February 2020) Available digitally By Bob Marovich “Free to Worship” is a vigorous and robust rhythm and praise piece from award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, and choir director Minister James A. Willis Jr. of Oklahoma City. Taking John 8:36 for his text (So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed), Willis and his longtime singing group, Nu Praze, express joy for the liberty to praise in a multitude of ways. In both lyric and arrangement, the song is about unencumbered worship. Trading melody for energy, it ...

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“Good God” – Benita Jones

“Good God” Benita Jones Tyscot / Integrity (release date: March 6, 2020) By Bob Marovich As Benita Washington, the P&W singer from Selma, Alabama, captured national attention in 2003 after winning the “Gospel Dream” talent search competition in its inaugural season. Her subsequent albums included Hold On (Light/Intersound, 2004), Renaissance: Live in Nashville (ReddApple Seed Ent., 2007), and The Word Remains (Shanachie, 2020). Now, as Benita Jones, she delivers “Good God,” the first single from her forthcoming album. Her full-throttle rendition, backed by a band of musicians pounding out an uncompromising march tempo, turns an unassuming call-and-response worship piece into ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 17, 2020

“Jehovah God (I Will Trust You)” Gospel Heritage 2.0 feat. Madelyn Berry From the Integrity Music & Tyscot Records CD Next Wave of Praise (single release date: January 24, 2020) By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Madelyn Berry leads her own P&W composition, “Jehovah God (I Will Trust You)” as a choir of worship leaders, assembled by fellow P&W singer-songwriter and producer VaShawn Mitchell, provides the melodic foundation that lets her improvise freely. Although the melody and lyrics are akin to other modern P&W ballads, this one is distinguished by Berry’s passionate delivery, which starts out with fiery intensity and never cools. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 10, 2020

“God Wants to Heal You” Earnest Pugh Black Smoke Music (from the 2017 album Survive) By Bob Marovich Recorded originally in 2006 by Apostle Kevin Davidson and the Voices, the Davidson-penned “God Wants to Heal You,” which was covered by Earnest Pugh as early as 2009, is being promoted as a single. Much shorter in its new go-around than Davidson’s original, the gospel ballad nevertheless receives a faithful treatment from Pugh, whose tenor voice is similar in texture to the composer’s own (both are from Memphis). Pugh also brings along an ensemble of background vocalists to assist as the choir. ...

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Chip Bailey – The Music in Me

Chip Bailey The Music in Me ABBII Music (release date: April 20, 2019) www.officialchipbailey.com By Bob Marovich Up to this point, Anthony “Chip” Bailey” has been a singer, musician, songwriter, and composer for other gospel artists. In his debut recording, The Music in Me, Bailey proves his own mettle in the spotlight, singing his own songs. Backed by a team of effective vocalists, a chugging rhythm section, and blasts of brass, Bailey delivers full-bodied Rhythm & Praise selections to the live recording audience that gathered at the Resurrection Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Early tracks “I’m Excited” and “Rejoice” pair funky ...

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Donnie McClurkin – A Different Song

Donnie McClurkin A Different Song RCA Inspiration / CamDon Music (release date: November 15, 2019) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich On the heels of the 20th anniversary celebration of the release of Live in London and More…, which contained the smash hit “We Fall Down,” multiple GRAMMY Award-winner Donnie McClurkin has dropped his eighth solo album, A Different Song. The mostly live recording contains eight McClurkin originals. While some songs are straightforward P&W fare, a few are decidedly different, in keeping with the album’s promise. One is the opener, “I Will Call Upon the Lord.” It’s an antiphonal Praise & Worship piece ...

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RIP: Rev. Dr. Clay Evans – Pastor, Civil Rights Icon

The Journal of Gospel Music was saddened to learn of the passing today of the Reverend Dr. Clay Evans, founder and pastor emeritus of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago. Our deepest sympathies to Ms. Lou Della Evans Reid, Rev. Pharis Evans, the rest of the Evans family, and the Fellowship M.B. Church community. The following is a short bio that I wrote for the Malaco Music Group website, with the generous assistance of Ms. Patty Nolan-Fitzgerald: Reverend Dr. Clay Evans An iconic pastor, singer, songwriter, recording preacher, community organizer, and civil rights leader, the Reverend Dr. Clay Evans was ...

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