Reviews

“I Need You” – Jermane C. Milton

“I Need You” Jermane C. Milton Harmony House Ministries (release date: April 14, 2017) Available on Amazon By Bob Marovich It may be that Jermane C. Milton’s cover of Shirley Caesar’s “This Joy,” made over with slamming funk bass runs courtesy of James Coleman, is the artist’s single and what earned him a 2018 Rhythm of Gospel Award for Urban Contemporary Male Vocalist, but for my money, it’s his “I Need You” that deserves the attention. A simple, light, piano-led melodic praise ballad whose only fault is a more-than-five-minute length, “I Need You” starts undistinguished enough, but Milton and his ...

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The Golden Gate Quartet – Music Is ? ? ?

The Golden Gate Quartet Music Is ? ? ? Cristal Groupe 2019 www.artisticprod.com By Bob Marovich From the open-ended question that is the title of their new album to the opening track, “Change,” it’s clear that the Golden Gate Quartet is preparing the listener for a different experience. And that’s what the listener gets on the baker’s dozen of selections that comprise Music Is ? ? ?—from traditional quartet to smooth soul/R&B to vocal group harmony. Organized in 1934, the Golden Gate Quartet helped popularize the rhythmic jubilee quartet sound through its many recordings, national radio broadcasts, appearances in films, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 4, 2019

“It’s All About You” Rev. Stef & Jubilation (independent, 2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/RevStefandJubilation By Bob Marovich The Reverend Dr. Stefanie Minatee, aka Rev. Stef, is back doing what she loves—directing Jubilation, the gospel choir that, among other achievements, backed Queen Latifah on the title track of the GRAMMY Award-winning various artists gospel compilation, Oh Happy Day (EMI, 2009). After recovering from an April 2015 stroke that severely impacted her mobility, Rev. Stef is now preparing the choir for a 20th anniversary performance in June at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  It was there that the ensemble formed initially to accompany Evangelist ...

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“A Carol for All Children” – His Love Singers

“A Carol for All Children”His Love SingersOpus One Studios (2018)www.opusonestudios.com By Bob Marovich Alan Salisbury and Whitney Parnell’s “A Carol for All Children” celebrates the religious differences that too often threaten to divide countries.  We are all God’s children, the song reminds, regardless of race or creed. Though the lyrics reference how cultures celebrate holidays differently, this simple, charming carol is not just for the holidays.  The four-track EP includes a gospel and choral version, directed and arranged by Charles Brown and rendered by the full-throated His Love Singers, an austere reading by the Harmony Interfaith Choir recorded live; and ...

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Phillip Carter – Live in Suwalki, Poland

Phillip Carter Featuring the Suwalki Workshop Choir and the Sounds of Victory Live in Suwalki, Poland SOV, Inc. (release date: January 25, 2019) www.phillipcartermusic.com By Bob Marovich The international popularity of gospel music has provided American choir directors and clinicians with opportunities to teach gospel vocal techniques to choirs in Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, and elsewhere around the world. Directors Norris Garner and Phillip Carter have found working in Poland, and specifically with talented conductor Szymon Markiewicz, to be particularly fruitful. Indeed, Carter’s collaboration with Markiewicz and the Suwalki Workshop Choir is the subject of his CD, Live in Suwalki, Poland. ...

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Jarred AllStar – Water and Wine

Jarred AllStar Water and Wine Independent (release date: December 25, 2018) www.jarredallstar.com By Bob Marovich What I find particularly interesting about Christian hip hop is that, like any type of poetry, the more you listen, the more you are rewarded with new insights. Of course, not every song or poem is deep, but enough are to warrant closer investigation. This is certainly the case with Jarred AllStar Haynes’ Water and Wine. While some selections gush with the unbridled joy of salvation, others have more incisive messages. Peppering his rhymes with humorous references to popular culture, Jarred, a licensed minister, finds meaning ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 19, 2019

“Anchored”God’s PosseIndependent (release date: January 30, 2019) By Bob Marovich Acknowledging at the outset that “Anchored” is actually an old song with a new twist, God’s Posse of Chicago proceeds to provide an up-tempo reading of said old song, complete with soft harmonies, a lead-trading vamp, and contemporary arrangement. The metaphoric “Anchored” teaches that, in the midst of life’s storms, it’s best to hitch one’s line to the Lord. The single is yet another reason why God’s Posse is among the city’s top gospel quartets. God’s Posse, itself anchored by the music tutelage of the Windy City Four’s Nelson Larkins, ...

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The Tommies Reunion (Live)

The Tommies Reunion Seven Legend Group / JMG Entertainment / Tyscot Records (release date: February 22, 2019) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich At their apex, Chicago’s Thompson Community Singers—known affectionately as the Tommies—were one of the most emulated gospel choirs in the country. Music ministers couldn’t wait for the next Tommies album to hit record stores so they could buy it and glean new gems to teach their own choirs. Having just surpassed the seventieth anniversary of their formation by the late Reverend Milton Brunson, the Tommies are back with their first new album in a decade. The Tommies Reunion choir ...

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“Safe” – Ruth La’Ontra

“Safe” Ruth La’Ontra Tyscot Records www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Gospel songstress Ruth La’Ontra gushes over the protection available in God’s arms during “Safe,” a boldly arranged worship song that beats with the heart of a modern hymn. Ruth waits for the vamp to let loose with a string of melismatic runs and intense call-and-response with her BGVs. Penned by Anthony Brown (leader of Group TherAPy) and Justin L. Savage, “Safe” debuted on Ruth’s 2017 Tyscot album, I Got You (Live). The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. Ruth is the daughter of veteran radio announcer Pastor Arvetra Jones Jr. and the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 4, 2019

“He Has Been Good” Bernice Brown Gregory From the EP Faithful (EP release date: July 28, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/bernicebrowngregory By Bob Marovich The opening track of Bernice Brown Gregory’s Faithful, an EP of relaxed contemporary praise songs and a digitally orchestrated version of “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” is an up-tempo churchy tune called “He Has Been Good.” Evoking the exuberance of the Chicago Mass Choir, Bernice and her background choir raise the roof on this declaration of God’s marvelous work within their lives. It’s Bernice’s first commercial recording since 2008’s God’s Been Good to Me, whose title track is similar in ...

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