Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: January 11, 2021

“Forgive Me” Toneisha Harris Connected Sound Music Group (release date: October 1, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Toneisha Harris makes as transparent a confession of sin as one is likely to hear on “Forgive Me.” Harris’s impassioned and melismatic pleas are set to a soulful rhythm section that receives dramatic emphasis from insistent piano triplets. Her mea culpas buckle the walls of her prayer closet. The runner-up in 2020’s The Voice vocal competition on NBC, Toneisha Harris was first heard by JGM in 2007 as a featured vocalist on Bruce Parham’s single, “Call Jesus.” We called her “spectacular” then and ...

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“Get Right Church”- The Gospel Legends

“Get Right Church” The Gospel Legends From the OTH Records CD Just One Touch (release date: December 11, 2020) www.thegospellegends.com By Robert M. Marovich One day about fifteen years ago, I was at the Gospel Music Workshop of America when someone handed me an invitation to meet a group called the Gospel Legends at their booth in the exhibitors’ hall. Intrigued, I accepted the invitation, expecting to shake hands with a group of seniors from various veteran quartets. I’m sure the Gospel Legends of South Carolina smiled at the surprise on my face when I laid eyes on a group ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 4, 2021

“God is Working” Deon Kipping The Underestimated Group (release date: November 20, 2020) www.deonkipping.com By Robert M. Marovich “That Dude” Deon Kipping, the singer-songwriter responsible for JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise’s 2005 hit, “Incredible God, Incredible Praise,” delivers a heartwarming new gospel ballad called “God is Working.” The song’s image is of a God who never rests in service to his people. When things look grim and we don’t have all of the answers, Kipping sings, remember that God is working “behind the scenes.” The main line is “Just before you start to fall apart / Remember God does all ...

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“He Picked Me Up” – The Highway QCs featuring Spencer Taylor Jr.

“He Picked Me Up” The Highway QCs featuring Spencer Taylor Jr. Ruffboyzmusic Group, LLC / Overboard Records 2020 By Robert M. Marovich The Highway QCs under “The Godfather” Spencer Taylor Jr. have not only entered their eighth decade of spreading the good news through quartet harmony, they show no signs of slowing down. Taylor assumes the second lead on the effervescent single, “He Picked Me Up.” It’s full of energy, optimism, and zest—just what we need to get through the tough times. The single is another example of the noise Jontee Ruffin’s Ruffboyzmusic Group and Darrell Jay Jones’ Overboard Records ...

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Geneatha Wright – In the Room

Geneatha Wright In the Room Godfather Records (release date: October 22, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Reverend Timothy Wright and First Lady Betty Wright may be gone, but their music and pastoral legacies live on through family members, their son John David and his wife, Geneatha, in particular. Geneatha (nee Doughtry), a singer before she joined the Wright family, has maintained a fairly consistent, if somewhat protracted , recording schedule, releasing Just As I Am in 2013, In His Presence in 2017, and re-issuing the song “Everything Will Be Alright” from her 2013 album in response to the pandemic. All ...

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Avis Marie Bickham – I Am Sure

Avis Marie Bickham I Am Sure Independent (release date: July 5, 2019) https://avismariebickhamministries.com/ By Robert M. Marovich The title track of Louisiana indie gospel artist Avis Marie Bickham’s latest recorded effort was named CCM Christian Song of the Year at this year’s Rhythm of Gospel Awards. It reinforces the notion that the expansive-voiced Bickham is at her best with more measured, melodic songs. The up-tempo songs on I Am Sure are conventional. “Where They At” rolls along to a techno hip hop foundation, and “Release the Sound” is a thunderous R&P that pushes Bickham to the upper reaches of her ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 21, 2020

“Silent Night”HamiltonesFrom the Young Vintage CDA Hamiltone Christmas (release date: November 30, 2017)www.watchtheton3s.com By Robert M. Marovich Although labeled a soul and R&B group, the Hamiltones of North Carolina sound for all the world like a gospel quartet on “Silent Night.” From converting the song’s 6/8 time signature to 12/8 to the shouting vocals, gritty guitar work, adlibbing, and crackling vinyl intro, this is old school quartet, I don’t care what anybody says. Then again, the Grammy-nominated trio has been featured on albums by Anthony Hamilton, PJ Morton, Jonathan McReynolds, and Tori Kelly, so there’s that. Released in 2017, the ...

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San Franklin – The Free Project (Deluxe Version)

San Franklin The Free Project (Deluxe Version) Enon Music Group (release date: September 25, 2020) www.enonmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich From the spoken introduction, gospel singer San Franklin makes it clear that her debut solo CD, The Free Project, is about breaking free from self-bondage, from the chains of doubt, fear, and analysis paralysis we wrap around ourselves. After years of standing “twenty feet from stardom,” Franklin enters the spotlight for the entire program, demonstrating the vocal versatility that has made her a favorite featured vocalist. Even her act of stepping forward to occupy center stage fits with the CD’s ...

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Michelle David & the Gospel Sessions: It’s a Soulful Christmas

Michelle David & the Gospel SessionsIt’s a Soulful Christmas(release date: November 27, 2020)http://michelledavidandthegospelsessions.com By Robert M. Marovich Holland’s Michelle David & the Gospel Sessions lend their stripped-down small-combo Sixties soul stylings to new and classic Christmas songs on It’s a Soulful Christmas. Looking a little like a Columbia Records release from the Sixties, the album art telegraphs the retro sounds within. David channels the coquettish soprano of Diana Ross throughout the project, most especially on the nearly note-for-note cover of Stevie Wonder’s quintessentially Motown “What Christmas Means to Me.” While the perky single “This Christmas (I’ll Be By Your Side)” ...

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“Jesus What a Wonderful Child” – Rhyme & Reason feat. April Hall

“Jesus What A Wonderful Child” Rhyme & Reason feat. April Hall From the Enon Music Group album A Reasonable Gift (release date: November 20, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich It does my heart good to know that the Angelic Gospel Singers’ “Glory, Glory to the New Born King,” once the most popular Christmas carol in the African-American community, is still being sung more than 70 years since its release. The production team of Josh Lay and Morgan Turner, known as Rhyme & Reason, covers it under its alternate title, “Jesus What a Wonderful Child.” Powerhouse singer April Hall gives the ...

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