Reviews

BJ McKenzie – Encouraging God’s Nation (Isaiah 61:1)

BJ McKenzie Encouraging God’s Nation (Isaiah 61:1) BJ Muzic (release date: September 6, 2016) www.bjmuzic.org By Bob Marovich Taking Isaiah 61:1 for his thematic anchor, award-winning solo artist and choir director Bernard “BJ” McKenzie Jr. of Chicago offers a healthy dose of optimism on his debut solo album, Encouraging God’s Nation. But the lyrics do not stop at simply getting through life’s trials.  Getting to one’s favor, or blessings (breakthrough), is just as significant. McKenzie offers these linked messages of hope and expectation time and again, most particularly on the single, “Born 2 Win.” It is a contemporary gospel song about looking past ...

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“Release” – The Church Choir feat. Pastor John P. Kee and Maranda Curtis

“Release” The Church Choir feat. Maranda Curtis & Pastor John P. Kee From the Kee Music Group CD If God Be For Us (release date: August 26, 2016) Available from digital music outlets By Bob Marovich If anyone has a stake in the “bring the church choir back” movement, it’s Pastor John P. Kee. Church choirs have been his life and continue to be. Last year, Kee, the award-winning founder of the New Life Community Choir, united a choir with gospel stars such as Zacardi Cortez and Hezekiah Walker for If God Be For Us.  The album was intended to help rekindle ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 1, 2017

“In His Presence” Geneatha Wright Feat. the Bible Faith Tabernacle Choir and Denise Renee Godfather Records (release date: March 27, 2017) www.cdbaby.com/cd/geneathawright2 By Bob Marovich First Lady Geneatha Wright gives her all to “In His Presence,” a simple, sweet ballad written by her husband, Pastor David Wright, about being where Jesus is because where Jesus is, there is peace, freedom, and liberty. Together with the Bible Faith Tabernacle Choir and soloist Denise Renee, Wright builds the intensity of the song until it ends in fiery evangelistic shouting. The instruments drop out at one point to accentuate the singing.  “In His ...

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Mr. Del – Love Noize

Mr. Del Love Noize DMG (release date: March 16, 2016) www.mrdel.com By Bob Marovich On Love Noize, Mr. Del the Hope Dealer traffics in the one thing we need more of: love. Following faith and hope, the greatest concept is love.  It’s the theme of the Christian rapper’s latest album.  Love Noize is the third in a trilogy of albums based on 1 Corinthians 13:13; the others are Faith Walka (2013) and Hope Dealer (2014).  Love for friends, for enemies, for God, as well as God’s love for us, all are grist for Mr. Del’s rhyme mill. Sometimes love is hard, as ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 25, 2017

“He’s the One” Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Pastor Walter E. Ellis From the album Kainos (The Acoustic Documentary) Puretonez Production/eOne Distribution (release date: September 2016) www.monicalisastevenson.com By Bob Marovich Those who appreciate the fiery traditional singing of Monica Lisa Stevenson, the proverbial fifth Caravan, will be slightly taken aback by her softer, gentler, and overall acoustic approach to “He’s the One.” I say slightly taken aback because “Try Jesus (He’s the One)” is not a new song: MLS’s father and uncles, who had formed a quartet, sang it on their programs. It’s a traditional song.  Only the smooth arrangement and ...

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“Can’t Leave” – The Williams Singers

“Can’t Leave” The Williams Singers From the Blackberry Records CD In Real Time (Release date: March 31, 2017) www.blackberryrecords.com By Bob Marovich The Lord has been so good to the Williams Brothers, they just can’t leave Him. That’s the premise of “Can’t Leave,” the new single from the contemporary gospel trio’s new album, In Real Time. It has all their ingredients: smooth vocals, silky harmonies, and funky instrumentation. Darnell, Dezmien, and Dezrale Williams trade leads as they offer their gratitude to God, all to an easy tempo designed for demonstrating assent than shouting the glory down. Organized by their father, ...

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God’s Posse – The Kind of God We Serve: Live in Chicago (EP)

God’s Posse The Kind of God We Serve: Live in Chicago (EP) Trewworks Music Group/Denzell Music Group (2017) By Bob Marovich God’s Posse is emerging as one of Chicago’s most popular quartets, alongside the Stars of Heaven, the Kinsmen, and the veteran Victory Travelers. Its EP, The Kind of God We Serve: Live in Chicago, is an effort to introduce themselves to an even bigger audience. The seven tracks on the EP were originally released on the group’s 2011 album of the same title, but they are not cuts from Nelson Larkins, God’s Posse’s founder and leader, who retired in ...

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“Forevermore” – Sue Neil

“Forevermore” Sue Neil Sure Foundation Music (2017) By Bob Marovich A lovely acoustic piano intro makes way for a gentle prayer of praise from Pastor Sue Neil. In soft tones, she marvels at the wonders of God and all he has created. If “Forevermore” sounds sun-kissed, that’s because Neil wrote it upon waking early one morning and feeling the need to put in song all the emotions she felt about the Lord. Towards the conclusion, as Neil moves to the most passionate portion of the song and listeners anticipate a heartbeat-skipping explosion of sound, the natural resolution of her innermost feelings, her voice drops somewhat from ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 17, 2017

“Touch Me” Ronica & the Blazing Stars MoDa Records (2017) RonicaTheBlazingStars@gmail.com By Bob Marovich “Touch Me” by Ronica & the Blazing Stars has the relentless up-tempo quartet backbeat and chugging guitars that recall the days when standard musical accompaniment and Holy Ghost-inspired singing were all you needed to move a congregation and shout the glory down. From Mooresville, North Carolina, lead singer Ronica Bowers evokes gospel stompers Evelyn Turrentine-Agee and Dottie Peoples. During the vamp, she cries out for anointing “in this mean old world” so she is healed and can sing and shout right (she does a pretty good ...

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Bishop J. D. Means Sr. Presents A Tribute to Sunday Morning Gospel, Volume 1, Part 1

Bishop J. D. Means Sr. Presents A Tribute to Sunday Morning Gospel, Volume 1, Part 1 Mean Means Music Group http://bishopjdmeanssr.com/ By Bob Marovich In his introductory remarks on A Tribute to Sunday Morning Gospel, Volume 1, Part 1, Dr. R. L. White Jr. says that we have greatness all around us but we fail to recognize it. He is speaking specifically of the greatness of Bishop J. D. Means Sr., but his words also ring true about the venerable hymns and gospels of the church. In our quest for the newest and hottest, we leave some of the most ...

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