Reviews

Stay Connected – The Choirs of Trinity United Church of Christ

The Choirs of Trinity United Church of Christ Stay Connected Unashamed Media Group (release date: February 28, 2017) Available on Amazon.com, itunes, other digital outlets. The hard copy with the 36 page color booklet will be available at the church by March 3, 2017, through its bookstore and website. By Bob Marovich Disc One of Stay Connected, the forthcoming two-disc project from Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ music and arts ministries, is alone sufficient to declare the project excellent. That it contains two discs makes it spectacular. It has been fifteen years since the South Side church has released ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 20, 2017

“Outpour” Lynn McCree featuring Judah 1st www.igaraa.com/lynn-mccree.html Songs that open with hushed piano and vocal never fail to get my attention. Lynn McCree’s “Outpour” got my attention. It’s a lovely ballad, lovingly sung, a prayer closet pleading to the Lord for a pouring out of blessings. “Pour out your joy / I don’t want to cry no more,” McCree and her Judah 1st singers express. The song is as passionate and delicate as the blessings they seek, and it feels as if it could even extend beyond its 3:42 length. The production expertly focuses on the singing, with the piano taking a secondary but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 14, 2017

“Testify” James Douglas feat. LeJuene Thompson From the forthcoming project Still I Praise https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesdouglas42 It could be intimidating for some artists to have a fiery singer like LeJuene Thompson on their single, but James Douglas proves an equally effective vocalist on “Testify.” “Testify” is as it sounds: despite having his name scandalized, despite going through the fire and the flood, and even despite the prospect of “throwing in the towel,” which in context sounds like a contemplation of suicide, Douglas declares that every time, God “made a way somehow.” Moaning her way into the song’s vamp, Thompson gives her testimony ...

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“When I Stopped Playing with Jesus” – LaTonya Earl

“When I Stopped Playing with Jesus” LaTonya Earl (private release, 2014) To purchase a copy, email Latonyaearl1@gmail.com Houston gospel singer LaTonya Earl gets transparent on “When I Stopped Playing with Jesus.” After “playing with,” or not fully accepting, the Lord, Earl “plants her feet” in church and sees the light. She cleverly interpolates the gospel hymns “I Saw the Light” and “Jesus, the Light of the World” to reaffirm her conversion message. The handclapping rhythm and whirling organ give the song a traditional feel, and a call-and-response with the background vocalists is like a quartet vamp, but an R&B bounce throughout ...

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Edna Gallmon Cooke – My Joy: Rare Recordings 1948-1966

Edna Gallmon Cooke My Joy: Rare Recordings 1948-1966 Gospel Friend (release date: February 27, 2017) www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Edna Gallmon Cooke may be one of the most underappreciated female vocalists of gospel’s Golden Age. Although her voice was small when compared to belters like Mahalia Jackson, Emily Bram-Bibby, and Ernestine Washington, what Cooke lacked in volume she made up for in finesse. She stirred church congregations by starting her performance soft and slow and building to a fiery crescendo. She knew when to shout, when to drop into a bluesy disposition, when to evangelize, and how to work with ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 6, 2017

“God’s FreqWincey” Wincey From God’s FreqWincey (released in 2015) www.winceycomusic.com On her new single, “God’s FreqWincey,” Wincey Terry-Bryant plays off her first name to testify about how prayer gives her a clearer focus on her past, present, and future. The song has a breezy California vibe and Wincey’s singing has the light touch of fellow Newark native Dionne Warwick. Wincey has healthy doses of performing experience, having worked in the television and film industries, and even recorded with jazz great Grover Washington Jr. Being on “God’s FreqWincey” certainly enables Wincey to do plenty of important work. She runs a nonprofit called Nanababies ...

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Miami Mass Choir – Live at the Adrienne Arsht Center

Miami Mass Choir Miami Mass Choir Live at the Adrienne Arsht Center MaJo Records (release date: December 9, 2016) Available from online music retail outlets By Bob Marovich Having fun while worshiping is the overall impression one gets listening to Miami Mass Choir Live at the Adrienne Arsht Center, the choir’s latest full-length release in some fifteen years. And I don’t mean frivolous fun, but a bouncy joie de vivre from enjoying the worship experience. In other words, no new age religion, no extended moments of quiet rapture, no overly complex arrangements, no whispering all over the place.  It’s about extroverted ...

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“My Brothers” – Brotha Mike

“My Brothers” Brotha Mike From the EP Second Chance (released December 2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/brothamike1 Gospel music is made for such a time as this. On “My Brothers,” Detroit’s Brotha Mike defends those who haven’t had the same opportunities as others and those who deserve a second chance. “They didn’t make us,” he sings, “so they can’t break us.” As a saxophone wails and the arrangement gets progressively bluesier, Brotha Mike moves from empathy to encouragement: “Keep your head high / You don’t have to look down.” By the end, he is enjoining everyone to come together “to make a better world.” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 30, 2017

“I Got Out” Bryan Popin Little Boy Wonder Music (release date: January 15, 2017) www.bryanpopin.com Dubbed “Little Boy Wonder” by Stevie Wonder, gospel artist Bryan Popin infuses”I Got Out” with a Pentecostal-flavored explosion of gratitude to God for helping him escape his personal trials.  Popin assures that God will help you out of your “going through,” also. The single is reminiscent of the traditional-meets-contemporary blend of “Alright” and “Thank You Jesus” from Popin’s 2013 album, You Can Make It. From an old-school congregational singalong opening to its evangelist-on-fire vamp, “I Got Out” rocks so hard, it burns to a crisp, ...

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Various Artists: WOW GOSPEL 2017

Various Artists WOW GOSPEL 2017 RCA Inspiration (release date: January 27, 2017) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the annual WOW GOSPEL collection was my personal tutor for learning about the gospel scene. Back in those days, I was focused exclusively on vintage gospel music, and particularly the contributions of quartets. I looked forward with great anticipation to the next WOW GOSPEL project so I could take another lesson in modern gospel. I often purchased the two-CD set the day it was released. It was through WOW GOSPEL that I first encountered Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise,” Mary ...

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