Praise & Worship

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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Kevin Riley – Restored for Worship

Kevin Riley Restored for Worship Kevin Riley Music (release date: July 21, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/kevinriley7 By Bob Marovich What strikes you upon hearing Kevin Riley’s new album, Restored for Worship, is how well the project would work as an Easter cantata. Literally beginning at the beginning, with dramatically-spoken snippets from early Genesis during the first of the Little Rock, Arkansas’ singer-songwriter’s several interludes, Restored for Worship follows the march of time from creation and the dawn of humanity to Jesus’s passion, resurrection, ascension, and the first Pentecost. Riley uses this construct to show how the “plan of redemption” that began before creation ...

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“Here I Am” – Zaviel Janae

Zaviel Janae Here I Am (2015) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich Zaviel Janae Slack (Zaviel Janae) of Atlanta opens her live album, Here I Am, with a blunt and tearful testimony. Her story of how a pregnancy out of wedlock went from bad to worse but ended positively is the kind of mea culpa that leads one to devote her life to God and sacred music. That’s what she’s done. Praise leader, member of neo-soul group Lyrikal, and frequent vocalist with Darwin Hobbs, Zaviel Janae has an expressive, church-filling voice that, like Casey J, Tasha Cobbs, or Kierra Sheard, ...

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Genesis of a Gospel Song: “Every Praise” (J. David Bratton)

By Bob Marovich Ed. Note: This is the first of what the Journal of Gospel Music hopes will be a series of conversations with writers of some of today’s most popular gospel songs. It was inspired by articles in the Wall Street Journal about the origins of classic pop and rock recordings. “Every Praise” by J. David Bratton, on Hezekiah Walker’s Azusa: The Next Generation (RCA Inspiration, 2013) Minister J. David Bratton as told to JGM’s Bob Marovich I was born and raised in Vallejo, California. I wrote a couple of songs when I was in high school, but I ...

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Tasha Cobbs On Recording “One Place Live”

Last week, Motown Gospel artist Tasha Cobbs released her second album, One Place Live. Recorded at Redemption Church in Greenville, South Carolina, the album received five of five stars from the Journal of Gospel Music. JGM’s Bob Marovich caught up with the award-winning vocalist last Friday, the day of the album release. JGM: How do you prepare for a recording like this? TC: I’m truly blessed to have an amazing band, amazing singers, and throughout the year we travel together. So it’s almost like us doing what we do on a weekly basis, just with a recording truck. That was ...

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Tasha Cobbs – One Place Live

Tasha Cobbs One Place Live Motown Gospel (release date: August 21, 2015) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Recorded before nearly 3,000 worshippers at Redemption Church in Greenville, South Carolina, singer-songwriter Tasha Cobbs’ One Place Live is a solid follow-up to her number one CD, Grace. It actually surpasses the multi-award-winning debut album, as the worship songstress sounds more vocally confident than ever before. On One Place Live, produced by label-mate VaShawn Mitchell, Cobbs doesn’t as much lead as direct or orchestrate the flow of praise and worship. Song transitions are effortless and create a worship experience that is nigh perfect in its ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 3, 2015

“I’ll Be the One” Bri Babineaux Marquis Boone Enterprises (2015) www.brination.org Bri (Briana) Babineaux eagerly accepts the call to discipleship on her debut single, “I’ll Be the One.” The lovely twenty-year-old coed from the University of Louisiana evokes another emerging artist, Casey J, by placing her youthful and confident voice atop sinuous musicianship and supportive background vocalists. The gentle P&W ballad caught the industry by surprise when it debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Gospel Digital Download chart. It made history by landing the top spot without major radio airplay, personal appearances, or prior sales. It also entered the Hot Singles Sales Chart ...

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Casey J – The Truth

Casey J The Truth Marquis Boone Enterprises/Tyscot Records (released April 21, 2015) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich The next best thing to a live gospel music program is listening to a live gospel music program on a recording. That’s why it was smart for Casey J to release her debut album, The Truth, as a live worship experience.  And on home turf: the recording took place on January 30, 2015, at Fresh Start Church in Duluth, Georgia, where Casey is morning worship leader. Casey J. Hobbs, known as Casey J, is the newest rising star in gospel music. Her debut single, ...

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