Praise & Worship

“You Are” – Byron Cage

“You Are” Byron Cage AIR / Malaco Music Group www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich Stellar Award-winning “Prince of Praise” Byron Cage delivers his latest single, “You Are,” a conventional mid-tempo P&W. Cage alternates between singing and incrementally thunderous exhorting as the background singers keep the song moving forward. While the melody and lyrics are consistent with other contemporary P&W fare, including Cage’s own catalog, the chorus, with its call-and-response litany of adjectives to describe God, is what’s most compelling. The song is from Cage’s September 2019 Atlanta International Records album Isolation (a prophetic title considering the past sixteen months).

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“Into This Place” – Bradie Frink & Ordinary People

“Into This Place” Bradie Frink & Ordinary People www.bfop.vision By Robert M. Marovich “Into This Place” is an antidote for the sameness of much P&W music. This lovely, liquid praise ballad, set in a minor key, benefits from a tender lead feature from Terrell Carter and sumptuous harmonies from Bradie Frink & Ordinary People, their singing anything but ordinary. The song has character, the production has crispness, and the musicians accompany the singers rather than compete with them. Originally from Washington, DC, and now living in North Carolina, Bradie Frink Jr. has served as the minister of music at numerous ...

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Kelontae Gavin – The N.O.W. Experience

Kelontae Gavin The N.O.W. Experience RCA Inspiration / Marquis Boone Enterprises (release date: March 5, 2021) www.rcainspiration.com By Robert M. Marovich Some gospel artists you meet outside of the church environment startle you when you witness their artistic presence in the spotlight. One is Jekalyn Carr—quiet and measured in informal conversation and a marvel of evangelistic motive force when ministering in music. Another is Kelontae Gavin. A Marquis Boone client, Gavin is a humble and amiable soul, a young man who conquered dark moments with healthy doses of sunny optimism and faith. But when he enters the spirit realm, Gavin ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 1, 2021

“Alpha and Omega” Jude Philips https://www.facebook.com/jude.akamien.9 By Robert M. Marovich On his gorgeous new single, “Alpha and Omega,” Nigerian medical doctor and gospel music minister Jude Philips expresses what he declares is “the unusual greatness and supremacy of God which makes all things possible through Him.” The mystical opening strains introduce a very simple major key melody characteristic of African gospel writ large. Philips sings lyrics of praise and adoration in two languages while his background vocalists offer a silky curtain of sound and a saxophone punctuates the atmosphere. As Philips and his team illustrate, less can be more. Dr. ...

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“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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