Praise & Worship

“Way Maker” – Tonya Ware

“Way Maker” Tonya Ware From the EP Signature of God, Volume One The Success House (release date: July 19, 2019) www.tonyaware.com By Bob Marovich Back in 2006, Tonya Ware recorded her debut album, The Voice. Among its many fine cuts, the album featured a marvelous single written by Marvin Winans called “Put My Hand in Yours.” It earned Ware a Stellar Award nomination. But it was the likable “Rain” that caught my attention. Ware’s vast but not excessively flashy voice was perfect for this pop-flavored prayer for an overflow of blessings. With a successful album and an executive position with ...

Read More »

VaShawn Mitchell – Elements

VaShawn Mitchell Elements Fair Trade / Columbia (release date: August 9, 2019) www.vashawnmitchell.com By Bob Marovich More than other styles of sacred music, Praise and Worship tends to focus on the elements. For example, the music creates an “atmosphere” for worship, while song lyrics use wind, water, and fire as metaphors for the presence, or anticipated presence, of the Holy Ghost and the “showering” of blessings. Nowhere is this more evident than on worship leader VaShawn Mitchell’s new album, Elements. The title of his first album in three years telegraphs the use of the earth’s substances to describe the descent ...

Read More »

Kurt Carr – Bless Somebody Else

Kurt CarrBless Somebody ElseRCA Inspiration (release date: July 19, 2019)www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich In what may well be the most heartrending introduction you will hear on a gospel album this year, Praise & Worship pioneer Kurt Carr uses the opening moments of his new CD, Bless Somebody Else, to relate the final moments he spent at the deathbed of gospel great Andrae Crouch. Squeezing Carr’s hand, Crouch, who in his early days encountered no small amount of criticism for contemporizing church music, entreats his protégé to always lift the name of Jesus in his songs. From there, Carr and the ...

Read More »

Nashville Life Music – The Taylor House Sessions (EP)

Nashville Life Music The Taylor House Sessions (EP) Integrity Music (release date: May 24, 2019) www.nashvillelifemusic.com By Bob Marovich From the loping tempo and bass-heavy opening of the single “My God,” and the playful use of auto-tune by Byron Chambers (aka Mr. Talkbox) as a medium for scatting and raising lyric lines, you know that Nashville Life Music has soul. The overall feeling of the group’s Taylor House Sessions EP, recorded at the Taylor House Studio in East Nashville, Tennessee, and especially given the cheering and applause between selections, is of a relaxed communal singalong powered by a throbbing rhythm ...

Read More »

“There’s No One Like You” – Kelontae Gavin

“There’s No One Like You” Kelontae Gavin From the Tyscot album The Higher Experience www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Success couldn’t happen to a nicer guy than Kelontae Gavin. Part of Gavin’s appeal is his genuine spirit, which shines through in his singing, such as on the P&W ballad “There’s No One Like You.” He and his background vocalists take this unabashed prayer of praise, a follow-up to the hit “No Ordinary Worship,” from smooth to sanctified and back again. The congregation, captivated by the chorus, sings the song to its conclusion. I’m not a big fan of P&W except when ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: April 1, 2019

“Reach”DOEIndependent (release date: March 17, 2019)www.doejonesmusic.com By Bob Marovich “Reach,” the new single by GRAMMY-nominated gospel artist Dominique Jones (aka DOE), represents her finest work to date, amidst a string of quality songs. It’s simply and gently direct, a prayer rising from an anguished soul that builds in intensity and uplift as the song progresses. Doe’s vocals rise and fall like steady breathing.  The arrangement sounds ready-made for that poignant part of a drama when the protagonist discovers the answer, and musters the inner strength, to resolve the conflict. Praise & Worship music can tend towards the conventional, imitative, and ...

Read More »

“Strong Name” – Darius Paulk

“Strong Name”Darius PaulkAIR / Malaco (2019)www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Darius Paulk, perhaps best known for penning Vashawn Mitchell’s number one hit “Nobody Greater,” demonstrated facility as a singer on his own 2012 EP, Lyrics and Melodies (which included his own interpretation of “Nobody Greater”). “Strong Name,” Paulk’s debut single for Malaco’s Atlanta International Records imprint, is an equally extroverted proclamation of worship, a head raised and hands extended offering to the Most High. Paulk’s flights into falsetto are evocative of Mitchell as he navigates the song’s easy melody until the song’s final moments, when a growing musical intensity uncorks his ...

Read More »

The Recording Collective – Yes and Amen

The Recording Collective Yes and Amen (release date: February 8, 2019) www.therecordingcollective.com By Bob Marovich The Recording Collective is a largely (perhaps intentionally) anonymous ensemble created by MultiTracks.com, a company that has for more than a decade provided churches with Clicks, Loops, and multi-tracks to give their amateur musicians a professional-sounding sonic boost. Yes and Amen in the third volume in the company’s series of albums and EPs designed, according to The Recording Collective’s mission statement, to “be a resource to worship leaders and listeners in multicultural congregations around the world.” Named for the Bethel Worship hit that is among ...

Read More »

William Murphy – Settle Here

William Murphy Settle Here RCA Inspiration (release date: March 15, 2019) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich William Murphy uses home court advantage to his best advantage on his sixth and latest solo album, Settle Here. Recorded live on a rainy evening at Atlanta’s dReam Center Church, where Murphy is worship leader, Settle Here offers ten superb P&W songs instead of replicating a worship service, warts and all, in lockstep fashion. For example, the album opens not with the almost compulsory cookie-cutter aerobic praise piece but with Christian artist Zach Williams’ dramatic “Chain Breaker.” The song, recorded previously by Angela “Missy” Billups, ...

Read More »

Phillip Carter – Live in Suwalki, Poland

Phillip Carter Featuring the Suwalki Workshop Choir and the Sounds of Victory Live in Suwalki, Poland SOV, Inc. (release date: January 25, 2019) www.phillipcartermusic.com By Bob Marovich The international popularity of gospel music has provided American choir directors and clinicians with opportunities to teach gospel vocal techniques to choirs in Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, and elsewhere around the world. Directors Norris Garner and Phillip Carter have found working in Poland, and specifically with talented conductor Szymon Markiewicz, to be particularly fruitful. Indeed, Carter’s collaboration with Markiewicz and the Suwalki Workshop Choir is the subject of his CD, Live in Suwalki, Poland. ...

Read More »