Reviews

Hi-Lite Real: Moral Victories

Hi-Lite Real Moral Victories Hi-Lite Life Music (2016) http://hilitereal.com       By Bob Marovich Moral Victories, the latest CD by Atlanta-based Christian Hip Hop artist Hi-Lite Real (born Dwayne Dickey), is as aspirational as it is inspirational. Employing sports analogies for some of his selections, Hi-Lite Real pumps up his motivation while evangelizing to those caught between the street life and the blessed life. “Keep that Xbox,” he spits on “Number 1 Contender,” because saving souls is no game. He’s got his “eyes on the prize” and will work, even through “a torn ACL,” if need be. During “Jungle,” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 14, 2017

“Well Done” Ernest J. Lee feat. Donnie Tuck From Anthems from the Vault Vol. 1 www.ernestjleemusic.org By Bob Marovich Ernest J. Lee’s “Well Done” drops a fetching quartet backbeat and a drive tempo behind the two words every Christian hopes to hear upon entering the Pearly Gates: well done. The husky-voiced Donnie Tuck and a group of female background vocalists more than assist the Detroiter on this joyous old-school-meets-new-school evocation of the happy hereafter for the saved, sanctified, and Holy Ghost filled. It’s all about joy and shouting victory because there’s no night there. “Now put your hands together one ...

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“Where Do We Go” – Paula & Angie

“Where Do We Go” Paula & Angie From the G2 Music Group CD Where Do We Go (release date: August 4, 2017) www.paulaandangiemusic.com By Bob Marovich On the title track of their new album, Where Do We Go, mother-daughter gospel duo Paula & Angie offer sound advice on how Christians can make a difference in today’s turbulent world. Opening with bluesy gospel piano and organ, the song drops into a comfortable mid-tempo groove. The duo asks the body ecclesiae to not get caught up in “rules and doctrines” but instead adopt Christ-like action to “do what’s best for all God’s children, not just me.” Like ...

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Natasha Owens – We Will Rise

Natasha Owens We Will Rise Maharlow Records (release date: July 7, 2017) http://natashaowensmusic.com By Bob Marovich Sometimes new beginnings flower from the most terrible tragedies. That was the case for Natasha Owens. Seven years ago, her father was cleaning a gun when it misfired, killing him at age 58. In the midst of her grieving, Owens was invited to serve as her church’s worship minister. She wrote songs for her church to sing. Through music ministry, she found that the more she poured into the congregation, the more she got back.  A trip to the recording studio to memorialize her songs produced ...

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Mag Elliott – “If It Wasn’t For Your Love”

“If It Wasn’t For Your Love” Mag Elliott M.E. Productions (2017) www.magelliott.com By Bob Marovich When she was eighteen, Mag Elliott impressed listeners with her debut gospel single, “Worthy.” Suddenly, she was receiving opportunities from all directions to sing on gospel programs. In the process, Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones heard her and brought her into his New Life vocal group. This past June, Elliott was named New Artist of the Year at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards. This honor comes on the heels of her new single, “If It Wasn’t For Your Love.” She sings that God’s grace restored trust ...

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Derrick “Doc” Pearson – I Still Do: Songs for a Biblical Marriage

Derrick “Doc” Pearson I Still Do: Songs for a Biblical Marriage I AM Music Company (release date: April 7, 2017) www.iammusiccompany.com By Bob Marovich Love songs have become quite popular in gospel music. Perchance inspired by Kim Burrell’s 2011 The Love Album, or Fred Hammond’s 2012 2-CD release, God, Love, and Romance, several artists have written and recorded songs about Bible-based love. Some even make for good wedding ceremony material. One of the most popular essays on the Journal of Gospel Music is a list of gospel songs fit for a marriage ceremony. I Still Do, Derrick “Doc” Pearson’s new collection of songs about marriage, ...

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“Simply Because” – Dana Fields feat. Adam Brock

“Simply Because” Dana Fields feat. Adam Brock From the album A Personal Experience (2016) www.danafields.com By Bob Marovich Songstress Dana Fields’ silky smooth praise song “Simply Because” gets a double shot of passion courtesy of the soulful vocalizing of her duet partner, American Idol contestant Adam Brock. The two voices fit together like two puzzle pieces, a twenty-first century iteration of the sweet-and-spicy combo of Syreeta Wright and Billy Preston. Fields and Brock move perceptibly from gentle to big finish to render the uncomplicated lyrics and melody that surfaced in Fields’s spirit as she was going about her daily routine. This is how skilled vocalists ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 24, 2017

“I Give You Praise” Robert E. Person feat. Richard Smallwood From the forthcoming REP album Classic Covers www.roberteperson.com By Bob Marovich Covering Richard Smallwood’s composition “I Give You Praise” is commendable. Having the maestro himself accompany on piano is inspired. Originally released by Smallwood on his 1989 album Portrait (Word Entertainment), “I Give You Praise” combines the drama of high theater with the passion of high church in offering plaudits to the Most High. Vocalist Robert E. Person’s classical training is in evidence on this version from the quiet opening to the expansive coda. Roderick Giles & Grace, who accompanied Bryan Andrew Wilson ...

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Jermaine Dolly – The Dolly Express

Jermaine Dolly The Dolly Express DarkChild Gospel / By Any Means Necessary LLC (release date: June 9, 2017)                 By Bob Marovich The Dolly Express, the main conceit of Jermaine Dolly’s debut full-length album of the same name, bears similarity to the storied Gospel Train, the subject of old hymns, with a couple important exceptions. First, while only the saved are welcome on board the Gospel Train, Dolly’s locomotive invites everyone on this free trip. And second, the conductor is not Jesus but Dolly himself. His duty, like a good Christian, is to lead his ...

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Bigger Than Me – Le’Andria

Bigger Than Me Le’Andria RCA Inspiration (release date: July 21, 2017) By Bob Marovich Bigger Than Me, Le’Andria Johnson’s fifth album, is her best album since her 2011 debut, the chart-topping Music World Gospel release, The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson. Best because the songs, for the first time since Awakening, feel right for her, melodically and lyrically. This album is direct and honest rather than focused on inspirational messages with an undercurrent of crossover aspiration. Song lyrics like “I’ve tried every shortcut” and have “gone through hell” (“Come Through”) and “I took on way too much…now I have to pay the cost” ...

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