Praise & Worship

Jonathan Nelson On Songwriting: “When It’s Flowing, It’s Just Flowing”

By Bob Marovich On March 18, the Stellar Award-winning singer-songwriter Jonathan Nelson released Fearless (Light Records / eOne Music), a live recording that JGM gave its highest possible rating, five stars, for its ability to “be musically versatile and passionate yet remain firmly rooted in the atmospheric and hypnotic P&W technique.” Nelson spoke to JGM about how his songwriting process contributed to the creation of Fearless. “My songwriting process is ‘when it comes,’” Nelson said. “I could be in a car–and a lot of times songs come to me in the car because I’m alone–or in meditation time, and I pull ...

Read More »

Jonathan Nelson – Fearless

Jonathan Nelson Fearless Light Records/Entertainment One Music (release date: March 18, 2016) www.jonathannelson.us By Bob Marovich Who would have imagined, back in 2004 when he appeared on the national gospel music scene, that the irrepressible new-school gospel artist Tye Tribbett would someday lead an old school-style praise break? That’s exactly what he does at the conclusion of Fearless, the live recording from Stellar Award-winner Jonathan Nelson. The eight-plus minute “I Give You Glory,” with Tribbett as pastor/song leader, rides along on a praise break beat, tying Nelson’s fifth album in the splendid ribbon and bow it deserves. Recorded live at the Faith ...

Read More »

Bishop Andrew Merritt & the Straight Gate Mass Choir – Saturate Us

Bishop Andrew Merritt & The Straight Gate Mass Choir Saturate Us Bajada Records (release date: December 22, 2015) www.saturateus.com By Bob Marovich The praise and worship choir, which one could argue was pioneered in the 1980s by Carol Cymbala and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, tempers the soul-stirring sounds of the gospel choir by employing fewer vocal acrobatics and blue notes, but maintaining the latter’s thunderous fervor. This choral style is ubiquitous in gospel music these days, but Detroit’s Straight Gate Mass Choir, under the leadership of Bishop Andrew Merritt, was among the first to bring it into the urban church. Making records ...

Read More »

For William McDowell, “Sounds of Revival” Goes Beyond Worship

By Bob Marovich Not two weeks after its January 22 release, celebrated worship leader William McDowell’s fourth album, Sounds of Revival: Live (Delivery Room Music / eOne Music), entered Billboard Magazine’s Top Gospel Album charts.  It knocked Kirk Franklin’s Losing My Religion from the number one position. Recorded live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before an audience of 3,000 people, Sounds of Revival is McDowell’s third number one album. It is also the latest chapter of the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter-worship leader’s journey, one that began in Cincinnati, Ohio, and soared when his 2009 “I Give Myself Away” garnered more than one million views on YouTube. ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: February 1, 2016

“By Myself” Deon Kipping From the RCA Inspiration EP A Place Called Victory (2015) www.rcainspiration.com The latest single from Deon Kipping’s A Place Called Victory EP is among his best tracks to date. “By Myself” has a hypnotic and ever-expanding arrangement, layered bit by bit with background vocals and more musicians until it apexes, then cools down.  All of this underpins a simple message: without God’s help, nothing we do individually will work. God must be in these details, because the recording works.  It could well be one of JGM‘s Best Singles of the Year.  Guaranteed to get arms waving ...

Read More »

Kassandra McGhee – Heavenscape: A Call to Worship

Kassandra McGhee Heavenscape: A Call to Worship (release date: August 28, 2015) www.mypower4living.com By Bob Marovich Ten tension-taming tracks comprise Evangelist Kassandra McGhee’s latest album, Heavenscape: A Call to Worship. True to its title, and in keeping with McGhee’s work as a praise and worship singer in and around Chicago, the songs in lyric and arrangement are all about vertical praise. It is clear from the opening selection, “Prelude of Worship,” that McGhee’s songwriting and voice have matured greatly since her 2009 release, Completely. First off, she is a more confident soprano, showing greater strength and support, but not to the ...

Read More »

“Overflow” – Bryan Andrew Wilson feat. Roderick Giles & Grace

“Overflow” Bryan Andrew Wilson Feat. Roderick Giles & Grace Bryan’s Songs Records (release date: January 2016) Bryan Andrew Wilson’s forthcoming single “Overflow” falls squarely within the current gospel appetite for brisk, mid-tempo P&W songs with easy to learn melodies and lyrics. As such, it seems ideal for praise team use. Wilson, along with Roderick Giles & Grace as background vocalists, and the musicians, build incrementally from zero to sixty in dynamics over the course of the four-plus minute selection. Giles, incidentally, formed the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) Chorale, which was a regional champ of Verizon’s “How Sweet the Sound” competition ...

Read More »

Bill Moss Jr. Rearranges CCM Classics for Forthcoming Album

By Bob Marovich When the chime struck five last Sunday afternoon, December 20, Third New Hope Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, was filled with eager anticipation. Members and music enthusiasts were on hand to support the church’s Worship Pastor, Bill Moss Jr., as he prepared to record his first live CD since his Billboard-charting Manifested Favor in 2008. “My church is a corporate-style worship church,” Moss told JGM by telephone just prior to the event. “I’ve been doing a bit of CCM [Contemporary Christian Music] and rearranging it to fit our culture. The response has been amazing. People have really ...

Read More »

“Thirsty for the Rain” – Keith Williams

“Thirsty for the Rain” Keith Williams EPM Music Group / eOne Entertainment (2015) www.epmmusicgroup.com “Thirsty for the Rain,” gospel crooner Keith Williams’ latest single, is a conventional but energetic and earnest entreaty for God to send down the rain, meaning blessings. It’s written by a committee, but an experienced one: Williams, Earnest Pugh, and Aaron Carter. While this worship anthem doesn’t take nearly as much advantage of Williams’ warm vocals as did his 2013 album Tone for Worship–there’s more call and response with the BGVs than straight-up lead work here–it will likely do well in the market because it bears lyric ...

Read More »

Travis Greene – The Hill

Travis Greene The Hill RCA Inspiration (release date: October 30, 2015) www.travisgreene.tv By Bob Marovich At age four, Travis Greene fell out of an apartment window in Germany and was pronounced dead. His praying mother believed otherwise. She picked up her limp toddler, called repetitively on Jesus, and little Travis opened his eyes. Greene relates this and other inspirational true stories on the title track of his major label debut album, The Hill, recorded live with a battalion of musicians and singers at Mosaic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. With such a remarkable backstory, it’s not surprising that Greene’s performance ...

Read More »