Reviews

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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“Do You Believe” – PJ Morton feat. Yolanda Adams

“Do You Believe” PJ Morton feat. Yolanda Adams From the Morton Records CD Christmas with PJ Morton – Deluxe Edition (release date: November 20, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Some songs sound as if you’ve heard them your whole life. “Do You Believe” is one of them. PJ Morton’s Christmas song has a buoyancy that is evocative of Donny Hathaway. Effervescent singing by Morton and Adams makes it sizzle. This is the version for others to emulate. Why it is not included among the holiday songs currently on pop radio’s Yuletide rotation is anyone’s guess. “Do You Believe” can be ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 7, 2020

“Born to Die” Angela Moss Poole 141st Lane Media (release date: 2014) www.AngelaMossPoole.com By Robert M. Marovich Not the Glenn Burleigh cantata, this “Born to Die” is a song written and performed by Dr. Angela Moss Poole of Miami, Florida. A bittersweet ballad, “Born to Die” reminds us of the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Poole sets the song on that “special night” in Bethlehem, but she also references Christ’s ultimate sacrifice at the cross as the true gift that keeps on giving. An exceptional production and arrangement, coupled with Poole’s lithe soprano reading, sell this holiday treat, a re-release ...

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Shalom Church & Friends – Victorious (Live)

Dr. F. James Clark Presents Shalom Church & Friends Victorious (Live) EP City of Peace Music (release date: September 4, 2020) www.shalomandfriends.com By Robert M. Marovich The six-track Victorious (Live) is the latest release and the first of two new EPs by Dr. F. James Clark and Shalom Church (City of Peace) in Florissant, Missouri, a town situated north of St. Louis and near the conflux of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The megachurch choir’s five-star debut album, 2015’s Simply Amazing, lived up to its title. Dello Thedford, that album’s composer and conductor, is at the helm on Victorious. Thedford once ...

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“Trust in the Lord” – Danielle Sunny Bryant

“Trust in the Lord” Danielle Sunny Bryant Ndamix Music Group (release date: November 13, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich On “Trust in the Lord,” Danielle Sunny Bryant encourages the discouraged by setting Proverbs 3: 5-6 to a meaty contemporary arrangement. Bryant’s attractive vocalizing toggles between modern and traditional, demonstrating her comfort with both styles. Starting out even-keeled, she moves the song toward the vamp, where the background vocalists do the melodic lifting so she can turn up the temperature and deliver a bluesy evangelism. The preferred extended version gives listeners a larger dose of Bryant’s vocal proclivities, including falsetto whoops ...

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“Come Praise the Lord” – Sounds of Imani

“Come Praise the Lord”Sounds of ImaniHeaven-Wings Records (release date: September 26, 2020)www.soundsofimani.com By Robert M. Marovich There have been husband-and-wife singing duos in gospel music since the beginning of the genre. For nearly 25 years, Pastor Gerald and Lady Carol Irvin have maintained the tradition, with “Come Praise the Lord” their latest single. Unlike the duo’s breezy, Hawkins-esque “Because of Who You Are,” the new song is a disco-driven piece that encourages everyone to dance while praising. “Move your feet to the beat,” the background vocalists chime, as Gerald and Carol weave their vocals together like a gospelized Yarborough and ...

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