Gerald “Da Gospel Truth” Jones Presents
The Independent Spirit, Volume 1
(release date: September 4, 2015)
By Bob Marovich
Industry insiders will tell you that some of the best gospel music is not being heard on mainstream gospel radio. It’s being produced by independent, or indie, artists.
That should not surprise anyone. It is the case with most music genres. It has been that way for decades. Artists typically do their finest work during their “hungry” or “salad” days. And every artist was once an independent. James Cleveland. Kirk Franklin. Mahalia Jackson. The Caravans. The father of gospel music himself, Thomas A. Dorsey, was once an independent, struggling to get his music heard by reluctant church music audiences.
Gerald Jones, best known as the guru behind www.dagospeltruth.com, has given an assembly of indie artists a chance to show what they’ve got. The Independent Spirit, Volume 1 is Jones’s fourteen-track survey of some of today’s emerging singers and groups. You probably haven’t heard them on mainstream gospel radio. You probably don’t even know their names. Nevertheless, their voices, songs, and grooves are just as good—and often better—than some charting artists.
The sampler is not a disparate grouping. Certain themes and sub-styles predominate. The importance of blind faith in God, a heartfelt appreciation for the life-giving blood and ultimate sacrifice of Jesus that saved a wretch like me, and uncomplicated praise are bathed in waves of breezy smooth jazz, urban AC, contemporary gospel, delicate acoustics and even pulses of EDM.
Artists on the collection deserving special attention include harmony groups Sensere (“If It Had Not Been”) and God’s Chosen (“Redeemed”). Deah Harriott turns the temperature way up with the effervescent “Answer with Praise”—she’s Jones’s cousin, but what the hey, she’s excellent—while Christina Bell, one of Essence‘s 16 Gospel Artists to Watch For in 2015, belts “Calvary” with gusty aplomb. The multi-talented Claude Deuce, featured here singing “I Believe God,” has deserved accolades since his 2009 CD, The Young Elder, though he scored a 2012 Stellar nomination for his work with the children’s television show, My Destiny Place. Danielle Munizzi, daughter of P&W star Martha Munizzi, puts an ear candy rhythmic vibe to “I Know You More.”
The singers and musicians are powerful, the production values are major label quality, and the songs are enjoyable. I’m sure Gerald Jones could fill dozens of volumes, given his accessibility to today’s indie artists, but we’ll be content with Vol. 1 for now and anticipate more to come.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “I Believe God,” “Answer with Praise.”