Reviews

“Calvary’s Cross” – Min. David A. Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions

“Calvary’s Cross” Minister David A. Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions (release date: September 29, 2017) http://dawhitfieldproductions.webs.com/ By Bob Marovich On their latest single, “Calvary’s Cross,” Minister David Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions raise aloft the standard of expansive contemporary choir singing established in part by David’s uncle, the late Maestro Thomas Whitfield. This call-and-response piece on the cleansing power of Jesus’s death on the cross is produced by Pastor Rudolph Stanfield Jr., another towering giant of Detroit gospel. Thunderous singing, thick harmonies, and melancholy instrumentation rise toward the conclusion like the ascent to Calvary. Whitfield Productions can trace its founding to a May 18, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 25, 2017

“Enter In” Chrystal Rucker HBK Media (2017) By Bob Marovich Chrystal Rucker is one of the finest voices in gospel music today. Her vocal talent is on ample display on “Enter In,” the follow up to her Top 30 single, “Excuse Me.” The finer of the two singles, “Enter In” is a prayerful, uncomplicated worship ballad that allows Rucker sufficient space to improvise. Supported by powerful background voices, she builds from soft to sanctified, tossing in growls, shouts, and skyrocketing flights of soprano to convince the saved and sinner alike that when we come to the end of ourselves, when we can ...

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“My Faith is Working” – The New Christianaires

“My Faith is Working” The New Christianaires Carter Classic Records (2017) www.thenewchristianaires.com By Bob Marovich According to the New Christianaires, and many others, the impact of problems on your life can be improved greatly by the way you handle it. That’s the premise of the quartet’s latest single, “My Faith is Working.” Viewing personal and societal problems through the lens of “what my God can do” can make dealing with life’s challenges infinitely easier to swallow. And, shouts lead singer Elvis Brumfield Jr., “I can’t let Satan take my blessing from me.” The arrangement has the meaty mid-tempo quartet strut characteristic of the New Christianaires. Minister George N. ...

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“Believe” – Marnae Greenhill

“Believe” Marnae Greenhill GStar Entertainment (release date: January 27, 2017) www.marnaegreenhill.org By Bob Marovich Biblical references about Jesus’s miracles abound in this up-tempo selection, especially his raising up of Lazarus, whose emergence from the darkness of death into the light of life is a metaphor for singer Marnae Greenhill’s personal rescue “from a dark place.” The Baltimore native gives the song a decent, energetic reading, as befits the subject matter.  The recording would have been better without the over-caffeinated electronic burbles and a more strategic use of the background vocalists, all of which enthuse over Greenhill’s overcoming but too often overshadow the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 18, 2017

“I Thank You Lord” Terri McConnell Royal T Records (release date: August 29, 2017) www.terrimcconnell.com By Bob Marovich From its southern-fried funky beat to Terri McConnell’s wizened alto, “I Thank You Lord” is as traditional and delicious as sweet tea. McConnell gushes with gratitude to God for creating a path for her, but her blessings are not over yet. Quoting 1 Corinthians 2:9, she sings that “eyes have not seen nor ears heard” what God has in store for her. When she moves into “makes me wanna moan sometimes,” she has us. A two-time Rhythm of Gospel Award winner, Terri ...

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World Church Unites – Maker of the Heavens

World Church Unites Maker of the Heavens Third World Vision (2017) www.worldchurchunites.org By Bob Marovich Gospel music has a higher purpose, and in the case of Maker of the Heavens, the purpose is more than spiritual. It’s about the very sustenance of life itself: water. World Church Unites, the Lincolnton, North Carolina-based music ministry team for Third World Vision, released a CD of original music as a fundraiser to provide clean water technologies to parts of the world that suffer from a lack of clean water. Anyone who donates to the cause gets a copy of the CD in gratitude ...

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“Jesus” – Tracy Neal

“Jesus” Tracy Neal Holy Ground Music Group (released July 25, 2017) Available on iTunes and from CD Baby By Bob Marovich A worship song written in the 1990s by Minister J. David Bratton (“Every Praise”), “Jesus” is a hypnotic litany of adjectives and characteristics that Tracy Neal sings to describe the Son of God. Electric guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards steadily pick up the energy behind Neal until the musicians and background vocalists drop into an insistent groove during the vamp. Neal uses the vamp to improvise on the many names of Jesus and what he has been to her. ...

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Jennifer McGill – Unbreakable

Jennifer McGill Unbreakable Lifetime Impact Music (release date: August 11, 2017) www.jennifermcgill.com By Bob Marovich If the original Mickey Mouse Club gave us Annette Funicello (okay, and Jimmy Dodd), the All-New Mickey Mouse Club produced a passing parade of pop singers. Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Ryan Gosling, are just a few. Jennifer McGill is another Mouseketeer alumna who has broken out on her own. But rather than try to top the pop charts, McGill set her sights as high as Heaven: she is a worship leader and Christian singer. She released her debut solo album, Unbreakable, last month. ...

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“Nobody But You” – Chaddrick Wood feat. Lowell Pye

“Nobody But You” Chaddrick Wood feat. Lowell Pye Rebirth Soul Entertainment (2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/chaddrickwood By Bob Marovich The husky-voiced Lowell Pye, formerly of Men of Standard, is an ideal duet partner for the equally throaty Chaddrick Wood. On Wood’s single, “Nobody But You,” the two men argue against DIY as a way to solve one’s problems. It only causes stress. Instead, call on Jesus. He’ll relieve your burdens, fix your problems on the job, and heal you. No stress. To a Williams Brothers-esque funky, loping accompaniment, the duo weave improvisational vocal lines and interjections until they conclude with a hymn-like delicacy. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 5, 2017

“Never Give Up on You” Dennis Yancey http://www.igaraa.com/dennis-yancey.html By Bob Marovich Indie gospel artist Dennis Yancey’s “Never Give Up on You” is a simple, effective, and tunefully smooth ballad about maintaining complete trust in God, especially during the tough times, because God has never given up on us. Yancey’s relaxed vocals make his singing sound effortless. Sparkling production by Suga Mike Allen ensures that the message is undeniably clear. It’s reminiscent of their earlier collaboration on the equally compelling ballad of faith, “Though You Slay Me.” From Queens, New York, Dennis Yancey just celebrated his 40th birthday last month. A full ...

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