Praise & Worship

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 ...

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“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 ...

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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 ...

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Tiff Joy – Tiff Joy

Tiff Joy (self titled) Walkway Music Group/VMan Entertainment/Tyscot Records (release date: September 25, 2015) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Perhaps I’m just a softie for slow, poignant gospel songs, or it’s that Chicago’s Tiff Joy (Tiffany Joy McGhee), on her self-titled debut album, is at her very best when she sings such selections. Or both. I’m thinking both. At several points on Tiff Joy’s live album, the singer breaks from the tried-and-true high energy praise team warm-ups that pepper so many P&W albums these days to deliver heartfelt messages with heartrending music. On “The Promise,” for instance, Tiff reminds the listeners ...

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Bridgett Kern – No One Greater

Bridgett Kern No One Greater Dream Label Group (release date: August 7, 2015) www.bridgettkern.com By Bob Marovich Although not advertised explicitly as such, Bridgett Kern’s new Praise & Worship project, No One Greater, is a live recording. That’s a good thing, as P&W comes off best live. After all, the style was created to enliven the live worship experience. I would argue that almost all gospel music sounds better live, but that’s a discussion for another time. Back to No One Greater. The first portion of Kern’s CD features the energetic and effusive P&W singing and hard-hitting musicianship heard in ...

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Apostle Dr. Ross D. Garrison Jr. – We Will Worship, Volume 1

Apostle Dr. Ross D. Garrison Jr. We Will Worship – Volume One Lions Roar Productions (2011) By Bob Marovich It makes sense that Apostle Dr. Ross D. Garrison Jr.’s first live Praise & Worship CD was recorded at Love Center Ministries in Oakland, California, on July 11, 2011, exactly one year to the day after the passing of Bishop Walter Hawkins. The album, We Will Worship – Volume One, has more in common with the Hawkins Family’s choral outings than with today’s definition of Praise & Worship music. In fact, the album features so many delightfully traditional gospel elements that ...

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Yardley Griffin – Hear Me Now

Yardley Griffin Hear Me Now Black Market Blue (release date: September 11, 2015) www.blackmarket.blue By Bob Marovich Yardley Griffin knew from age seven that he wanted to serve God. At sixteen he began writing songs and turned his interest in music into a job as worship leader at Destiny Church, the Sacramento, California, church founded by his grandfather in 1963. Griffin is now executive pastor of Destiny Church, but more responsibility has not stalled his singing pursuit. In September, he released Hear Me Now, a mostly live recording of original songs. During Hear Me Now, we discover that the wiry Griffin is ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 19, 2015

“Hear Us” Maurice Griffin MGM Chicago Music Group www.mauricegriffinonline.com Maurice Griffin went from being in the Chicago-based gospel group New Direction to winning the Gospel Music Workshop of America Gospel Treasure competition in 2007, then to being a finalist on Season Two of BET’s Sunday Best. He was nominated for a 2013 Stellar Award for Best Artist of the Year. Part of the reason for Griffin’s upward trajectory is his vocal agility and capacity to read a praise lyric with just the right mix of conviction and pacing. He demonstrates all of this on “Hear Us,” a single that he released last ...

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Carla Martin – One Word

Carla Martin One Word The Cloud Music (2014) http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/carlamartin1 By Bob Marovich Although Carla Martin has been singing for the better part of ten years, One Word is her debut album. Martin possesses a pleasant, power pop alto with a tight vibrato and the ability to get down into Toni Braxton’s lowest register when necessary. All songs on the CD are original compositions written by Martin and her producer, Larry Wilson.  Although the album opens and closes with high-energy praise songs energized by thumping drums, roaring guitars, and waves of electronica, Martin shines best on the tracks in the middle ...

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Tonya Lewis-Taylor: Delayed But Not Denied

Tonya Lewis-Taylor Delayed but Not Denied EARS Entertainment Group (2014) www.tonyalewistaylor.com By Bob Marovich Tonya Lewis-Taylor may be the most generous gospel artist when it comes to sharing the microphone with others. On her mostly live debut solo CD, Delayed but Not Denied, the former background singer for pop artists and one-time publicist for Roc-a-Fella Records (Jay Z, Kanye West) solicits solo turns from each background vocalist, her children, her youngest (Jaden), her mother, and, for all I know, even total strangers. Most of the solos occur during extended pieces “The Great I Am” and especially during the twelve-plus-minute “Holding ...

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