Praise & Worship

Maverick City x Kirk Franklin – Kingdom Book One

Maverick City x Kirk Franklin Kingdom Book One Tribl Records / Fo Yo Soul / RCA Inspiration (release date: June 17, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Maverick City Music, gospel’s current “it” group, joined with the venerable Kirk Franklin, no stranger to special event gospel projects, to bring music and ministry to 1,300 Florida inmates. Kingdom Book One is the result. Recorded at the Everglades Correctional Institution in Miami, the album showcases MCM / Chandler Moore compositions and Franklin classics, a weary-sounding Franklin punctuating the communal singing and worship with exhortations, preaching moments, and Biblical lessons. Talented vocalists like Naomi ...

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“Never Lost” – Tribl

“Never Lost” Tribl featuring Joe L. Barnes, Lizzie Morgan & Melvin Crispell III Tribl Music (album release date: November 11, 2021) www.tribl.com By Robert M. Marovich If you follow gospel music, you are aware of the rise of worship collectives like Elevation Worship, Nashville Life Music, and the recent Grammy Award-winning Maverick City Music. Worship collectives, which are often multicultural in composition, possess a style that falls somewhere between CCM and gospel. Sometimes this blend, designed to appeal to an increasingly multicultural megachurch environment, lands the groups’ music on the CCM and gospel charts at the same time. Tribl is ...

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Martha Munizzi – Best Days

Martha Munizzi Best Days Martha Munizzi Music (release date: July 29, 2021) www.marthamunizzi.com By Robert M. Marovich Martha Munizzi’s latest live album, Best Days, is a well-orchestrated worship service that focuses on the reasons to celebrate, not worry, in the midst of today’s uncertainty. The paradox of joy in the midst of a raging storm permeates the project—after all, the album was recorded in November 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. It’s also the ultimate test of faith, Munizzi teaches, in songs that are energetic and pop-inflected with beefy instrumental flourishes. She assumes pastoral authority, exhorting during songs, encouraging ...

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Psalmist Raine & the ReFresh Team – ReFresh Worship Live 3.3

Psalmist Raine & the ReFresh Team ReFresh Worship Live 3.3 ReFresh Institute (release date: March 25, 2022) www.BeReFresh.com By Robert M. Marovich One thing is certain about Psalmist Raine’s ReFresh Worship Live 3.3: it keeps on going and going and going. The final disc of the three-volume ReFresh Worship Live 3: The Fellowship of Sons and Brethren by newly-ordained Apostle Larraine McCaa, known as Psalmist Raine, has a musical stream of consciousness quality. Indeed, fashioning an improvised extended worship piece was intentional: though some songs were rehearsed in advance, others were created on the spot by the singers and musicians ...

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JGM Pick of the Week:  March 7, 2022

“The Glory” Mama Tee feat. Awipi & Rume Independent (release date: October 9, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich “The Glory” is the product of an international collaboration between Canada-based songwriter Tolu Adeosun (Mama Tee), Nigerian-based music director and producer Awipi Emmanuel, and singers Rume and Jojo Vocals. Modern gospel singers in or from Africa tend to focus on songs of vertical praise more often than their U.S. counterparts, and this song is no exception. At the same time, Mama Tee penned “The Glory” out of a personal challenge. To a haunting melody, the lovely-voiced Rume as lead and Jojo Vocals ...

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Maranda Curtis – Die to Live

Maranda Curtis Die to Live Butterfly Works / Red Alliance Media / Fair Trade Services Release date: February 18, 2022 www.iammaranda.com By Robert M. Marovich Although his declaration doesn’t appear until several minutes into the album, Bishop John Francis essentially states the theme of Maranda Curtis’s new album Die to Live. After quoting John 12:24, Francis says: “I found out that a seed has the ability to last for millions of years, even when it’s dead. But the moment that seed, in its death state, is put in the soil, it finds life again….The death of a thing is a ...

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“Holy” – Maritza Rico

“Holy” Maritza Rico P&L Records (release date: August 28, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Maritza Rico’s “Holy” is quintessential P&W, with its easy-to-learn lyrics, catchy melody, and congregation-inviting chorus. Written and produced by Dee Jones, the song is reminiscent of praise anthems by Michael W. Smith and Chris Tomlin. It’s Rico’s expansive and tuneful voice that sells it. Born in East Los Angeles, Maritza Rico began her music journey participating in talent shows on Latin television and a background singer for Beatriz Solis, daughter of Latin music star Marco Antonio Solis. Rico joined the worship team at Abundant Living Family ...

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“I See Heaven” – Janicka

“I See Heaven” Janicka Sonacy Music Group (release date: April 1, 2021) Gospel singer Janicka Newbill delivers her melodic single, “I See Heaven,” an invitation to God to enter the worship service, with confidence, conviction, composure, and clarity. She is ably assisted by sweetly-singing background vocalists and strings for added poignancy. At a time of too many sound-alike worship songs, this one stands out for its honeyed melody and delicacy. “I See Heaven” is written by California-based worship leaders and singing duo Bryan and Katie Torwalt. Producer is Franklin “Bubby” Fann, on whose 2002 album Judah Prayze Janicka distinguished herself ...

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“El Shaddai” – Marjane’

“El Shaddai” Marjane Independent (release date: November 12, 2021) www.marjanemusic.com By Robert M. Marovich Who knew that the Hebrew words for Almighty God could sound so sinuous when lifted in a quiet storm jam? BET Sunday Best finalist Marjane’ (pron. Mar-ja-nay) proves it in her latest single, “El Shaddai.” The California-based vocalist of 2019’s similarly breezy “I Choose You” is known for combining praise and worship lyrics with chill music much closer to smooth jazz than gospel. “El Shaddai” expresses many names for God in a way that evokes calm winds and water. “I Choose You” remains Marjane’s finest single ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 22, 2021

“Waves” Strong Tower Church feat. Maurette Brown Clark From the album Fresh Wind – New Waves (release date: October 22, 2021) www.strongtowerlive.com By Robert M. Marovich Strong Tower Church went big on their debut album, recruiting veteran musicians and the likes of Maurette Brown Clark and Charlin Neal as featured vocalists on its live project. The current single, “Waves,” features the effervescent Maurette waxing on the elements as symbols of God’s blessings, miracles, wonders, and new beginnings. “When a fresh wind blows, the unusual begins to happen,” she sings. It’s an expansive P&W piece with CCM and gospel ingredients, and ...

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