Reviews

Crowns of Joy – Back to the Basics

Crowns of Joy Back to the Basics (private press – 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/thecrownsofjoy By Bob Marovich The Pheba, Mississippi-based Crowns of Joy’s Back to the Basics album promises “old school—new flavor.” It delivers on its promise, largely through its “Trumpology” medley of drive-tempo hits of the past. The Rhythm of Gospel Award-nominated Crowns of Joy was organized in 1980 by the late Reverend Tom Bill Avant, a veteran quartetter who was organizing singers back in the late 1950s when he presented a neighborhood group called the Five Gospel Wonders. Tommy and Victor Avant, Bud Townsend, and primary lead singer Wayne Wooten ...

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Denise Josiah – Songs For the Heart

Denise Josiah Songs For the Heart JoDah Ministries, LLC (2016) www.jodahministries.org By Bob Marovich Denise Josiah titled her debut album Songs For the Heart, but it could easily have been titled Songs From the Heart. The ten lovingly intimate sacred selections on the CD were penned or arranged over a period of more than twenty years by the singer, her husband Dr. Donnell Josiah, or written together. Born on the beautiful island of Saint Maarten but now residing in Maryland, Denise is a worship singer whose light soprano is thickened with resonant echoes of alto, no doubt the result of ...

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“Favor of God” – K’metris Hunt

“Favor of God” K’metris Hunt Available from digital media outlets www.kmetrishuntmusic.com The debut single of Chicago’s K’metris Hunt showcases a controlled, confident voice delivering a lovely and melodic P&W ballad with deliberation but without unnecessary embellishment. Her sound has that unimpeachable genuineness that you hear in singers such as Janice Gaines and Dominique Jones. Reminiscent of a JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise piece but with soft BGVs in place of a thundering choir, “Favor of God” will appeal particularly to P&W enthusiasts and is likely to be covered by other singers. Drawn to singing at an early age and a ...

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Gretchen Keskeys – Walking in the Spirit

Gretchen Keskeys Walking in the Spirit Creative Soul Records (released June 27, 2016) www.gretchenkeskeys.com By Bob Marovich For singer-songwriter Gretchen Keskeys, her debut album Walking in the Spirit is not only a vehicle for sharing her religious commitment, it is also a vehicle for personal catharsis. As a teen, Keskeys, the daughter of a famous psychiatrist, was suffering from anxiety, fear, and depression. A rededication to Christ was the way she relieved her insecurities. Seeking to share her good fortune with others, Keskeys began serving as a worship leader in Northern California churches. Her reputation for singing and songwriting spread outward ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 22, 2016

“I Am Blessed” Kevan Peabody and Dayanna Griffin Twinkem Productions www.twinkemp.com Leave it to veteran Bay Area gospel artist Kevan Peabody to keep the traditional style alive. Teaming with Lady Dayanna Griffin, Peabody extols the wonderfulness of being blessed and highly favored with a cornucopia of blue notes, while Griffin follows suit with melismatic runs that evoke Kim Burrell or a Clark Sister. The BGVs and musicians, especially the tinkling piano and chortling organ, hold down the rocking chair rhythm, confirming the song’s trad cred even further. Still, the ensemble doesn’t overdo it, giving the single an intimacy that recalls ...

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Dayna Caddell – Push

Dayna Caddell Push Forty Entertainment / eOne www.daynacaddell.com By Bob Marovich Without knowing Dayna Caddell’s story, a listener can pick up some truisms just from listening to her debut full-length album, Push. First, the music has such a sunny, breezy disposition, it must have been crafted in Southern California. Indeed, Push, produced by the talented Warryn Campbell and Vann Clayton, was made and recorded in Los Angeles. The songs ooze with exuberance as they extol the greatness of God from a personal perspective: as friend (“You Got a Friend”), as true love (“Crazy,” “My One”), and as waymaker (“What He’s Done”). Second, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 8, 2016

“He Chose Me” Chadwick (released March 4, 2016) www.therealchadwick.com Chadwick Johnson, known simply as Chadwick, is an indie gospel artist from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His single, “He Chose Me,” is a balladic declaration of gratitude for forgiveness. Speaking as a former Prodigal Son, Chadwick sings in his high tenor that “out of everyone in the world” and after “all the wrong I’ve done. . . .He chose me.” The song’s pop melody and intense beat, which forever increases the tension, give “He Chose Me” a Top 40 feel. An EP is expected this summer.

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Eloho – Unrestrained

Eloho Unrestrained (self released, 2016) www.elohoefemuai.co.uk By Bob Marovich Americans might be surprised to learn that there is a vibrant gospel music community in the UK. Given the way in which the music was introduced there, and when, the UK style—indeed the mode of gospel music throughout Europe and Scandinavia—has more in common with CCM and Andrae Crouch-style jazz-pop gospel than the churchy clap-and-stomp sounds of traditionalism. At the same time, it stands in refreshing contemporary contrast to the staid hymns of the Anglican Church. Case in point is Eloho Efemuai, better known simply as Eloho. The Nigerian-born worship leader ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 1, 2016

“The Master’s Calling” Deborah Joy Winans Malaco Records www.malaco.com “The Master’s Calling” by singer and actor Deborah Joy Winans is at turns haunting, electrifying, and inspiring, and quite possibly one of the best gospel songs of the year. Written by Thad Cockrell, the song opens with a solemn piano and organ and features an earnest and delicate Winans answered by a commanding gospel choir. “Listen while you still can hear / The Master’s calling.” The daughter of contemporary gospel pioneer Carvin Winans, Deborah plays Charity Greenleaf-Satterlee on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) drama, Greenleaf, from whence the song comes. Although most know ...

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“Such a Time as This” – Bryan Popin

“Such a Time as This” Bryan Popin Little Boy Wonder Music (rel. March 2016) www.bryanpopin.com Bryan Popin, the singer who Stevie Wonder once dubbed “Little Boy Wonder,” made his national debut as a gospel singer with 2013’s You Can Make It (eOne Music). The album’s message of encouragement and hope through Jesus resurfaces on Popin’s new single, “Such a Time as This.” Backed by a vocal ensemble, Popin figuratively rests his elbows on the table to empathize with the listener. “I know you hurt,” he sings, but with Jesus on your side, you will win, because “this is your time, ...

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