Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: May 14, 2018

“I’m Determined” Bemeche’ BGMN Records (release date: April 9, 2018) www.bemeche.com By Bob Marovich This Virginia-based artist teams up with a top-shelf choir and musicians who together sound as if they came straight outta Chicago’s Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer on “I’m Determined.” A churchy up-tempo workout with jaunty piano work complements Bemeche’s conviction to run on to see what the end will be. He engages the choir in antiphonal singing and sets up a special section where sopranos, altos, and tenors layer their harmonies onto the main melody one at a time. Then the musicians drop out for a straight-up vamp. ...

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Jason Nelson – The Answer

Jason Nelson The Answer RCA Inspiration (release date: May 18, 2018) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich What makes Jason Nelson’s The Answer the finest of his five solo albums to date is the quality of the songs. Several of the melodic and biblically-based worship ballads on this live project are not only infectious, but they have a timeless quality. Outstanding songs on The Answer include the current single, “Forever,” as well as the quiescent “In the Room,” which demonstrates that an artist can get a message across—in this instance, that everything one needs can be sought through prayer—without thunder and fury. “Help Me,” which features ...

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Pastor Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny: Stand By Me “Live”

Pastor Terrell Rogers & Men of Destiny Stand By Me “Live” 4 Winds Records / Malaco Music Group (release date: March 2, 2018) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Listening to Pastor Terrell Rogers’ rough-hewn lead vocals meet the smooth harmonies of Men of Destiny is like eating salted caramel: they are delicious together. The 4 Winds release, Stand By Me “Live,” captures the young quartet singing at the Prince of Peace Church in their hometown of Blytheville, Arkansas (the Rogers Family founded the church in 1965). There’s plenty of antiphonal singing between Rogers and the quartet. Rogers, who cut his professional ...

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“Can’t Wait to See Mama” – Prez Blackmon

“Can’t Wait to See Mama” Prez Blackmon Pearl’s Son Music (originally released in 2017) By Bob Marovich Stellar Award-nominee Prez Blackmon may be the biggest fan of holidays. His prior single releases include songs about Christmas, his birthday, and Mother’s Day. The latter, a 2010 JDI Records selection called “Happy Mother’s Day,” finds Blackmon sharing vocals with songstress Renee Spearman. Blackmon’s new release, “Can’t Wait to See Mama,” is another Mother’s Day ballad, this time an a cappella ode to his mother and all she did for him. To a familiar hymn melody, Blackmon improvises as a backing choir of voices supports ...

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Kelontae Gavin – The Higher Experience

Kelontae Gavin The Higher Experience Tyscot Records / Marquis Boone Enterprises (release date: April 27, 2018) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Now in its fifth decade, Tyscot Records has been repaving its road to success by introducing young artists and groups that mix praise and rhythm, often in an attempt to replicate the live worship experience on compact disc. Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy, Ruth LaOntra, Casey J, and Bri Babineaux are just a few examples. The latter two have come to Tyscot through its relationship with starmaker Marquis Boone. Boone, referred to by many as the “Berry Gordy of Gospel,” finds, grooms, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 8, 2018

“Blessing Me” Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir From the City of Peace CD Sure. Focused. Centered (2017) By Bob Marovich Despite the jaunty piano intro and thunderous singing of the NextGeneration Choir, “Blessing Me” belongs to its fiery lead vocalist, Meaghan Williams-McNeal. Her feisty shouts and squalls lead the group on this churchy offering of thanksgiving for blessings bestowed. It is one of those songs that seems to anticipate a praise break.  Not surprisingly, Williams-McNeal is pursuing a solo career. Dr. F. James Clark and the NextGeneration Choir hail from the Shalom Church (City of Peace) of Florissant, Missouri. Their debut album, 2015’s Simply Amazing, ...

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Rev. Elijah Baker Sr. – Palm of His Hand

Rev. Elijah Baker Sr. Palm of His Hand (EP) Ambitious Records (release date: September 9, 2017) By Bob Marovich Anyone who thinks traditional gospel quartet is dead and gone hasn’t heard the Reverend Elijah Baker Sr.’s Palm of His Hand. The octogenarian Baker, together with background vocalists that sound for all the world like a seasoned quartet, deliver material like the Blind Boys of Alabama, complete with antiphonal singing, tight harmonies, and driving musicianship. There are no synthesized sounds here. Propelling the group is the 1970s era combination of grooved-in electric guitar, electric bass, organ, and drums. Baker’s nephew, singer-songwriter ...

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Renee’ Austin – Songbirds & Angels

Renee’ Austin Songbirds & Angels (Release Date: April 7, 2018) www.reneeaustin.org By Bob Marovich In 2005, blue-eyed blues and soul songstress Renee’ Austin was a rising star in the music business. She had signed a record deal with Blind Big Records, shared the stage with top charting artists, and was featured in a PBS special called Blues Divas, hosted by Morgan Freeman. But finding a lump in her throat, Austin underwent surgery. The result left her with a paralyzed left vocal cord and the diagnosis that she would never be able to sing again. Heartbroken, Austin cauterized music from her life but ...

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The Zion Messengers – I’m Ready

The Zion Messengers I’m Ready 1500 GOSPEL (release date: September 1, 2015) By Bob Marovich If you’ve heard Snoop Dogg’s gospel album, Bible of Love, you’ve heard the Zion Messengers. They are the young quartet from Los Angeles that sings on Bible of Love‘s “Going Home.” But you don’t get to appear on Bible of Love without gospel music experience. Indeed, the Zion Messengers released their own album, I’m Ready, back in 2015. The quartet sounds just as confident on this earlier album as they do on Snoop Dogg’s. Although endeavoring to make I’m Ready as contemporary as possible, the ...

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Kendrick Evans – Live Therapy Session

Kendrick Evans Live Therapy Session Rock the Cause Records (release date: September 29, 2017) By Bob Marovich Appearing on the CW docu-drama My Last Days, award-winning gospel singer Kendrick Evans of Quincy, Florida, opened up about his acute sleep apnea that doctors said would give him about three more years to live. Eschewing the surgery that would probably have ruined his voice, Evans chose to find other remedies so he could sing. And sing he does. Evans uses his Live Therapy Session as a musical variant of the mental health counseling the title suggests. He puts all of his stuff out ...

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