Reviews

Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900

Various Artists Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900 Archeophone Records (release date: September 30, 2016) www.archeophone.com By Bob Marovich There is something quite thrilling about hearing voices singing and speaking from more than a century ago. Those crackly, trebly vowels and consonants, like faraway voices over an old telephone, preserved on cylinder and discs like insects in amber, are just as hauntingly fascinating today as they must have been rousing for those who listened to them in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Hearing the voices of historic figures on record brings them back to life. Richard Martin and ...

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Candi Staton – It’s Time to Be Free

Candi Staton It’s Time to Be Free Beracah Records (release date: July 22, 2016) www.candi-staton.com By Bob Marovich Like Mavis Staples, Canzetta “Candi” Staton made her professional music debut in the 1950s as a member of a gospel group, and later broadened her reach into popular music by employing Muscle Shoals rhythm sections. The two women, born less than a year apart, have been recharging their careers with albums that channel a wisdom and experience as evident in the muskiness of their voices as in the song lyrics. It’s Time to Be Free, Staton’s first gospel album since 2008’s I Will ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 24, 2016

“Be Still” Riverside SDA Choir feat. Lecresia Campbell From The Riverside Project: Music & Devotion (2016) www.RiversideNashville.org “Declare Your Name” is the initial single from Riverside Seventh Day Adventist Nashville’s The Riverside Project, a two-CD music and spoken word release. But another selection, “Be Still,” is significant because it may be the final recorded performance by gospel singer Lecresia Campbell. Campbell, who passed away on September 29 of this year, shines on this slow burner, which puts the language of Psalms 46:10 in the vernacular (“stop worrying and struggling, questioning and fretting” instead of “cease striving”). She moans, shouts, flips ...

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Rev. Clay Evans & the Ship – What A Legacy

Rev. Clay Evans & the Ship What a Legacy Rev. Clay Evans Heritage Series (2016) By Bob Marovich “Give me my flowers while I am still here,” the Consolers instructed in 1955, “so I can see the beauty that they bring.” What a Legacy, a collection of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church Choir tracks never before released on CD, is one way a legion of friends and fans are giving their flowers to the Reverend Dr. Clay Evans, who turned 91 this year: by preserving some of the classic musical moments of Fellowship, aka “The Ship,” the church he founded in ...

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Tonya Lewis Taylor – I’ve Got to Win (EP)

Tonya Lewis Taylor I’ve Got to Win (EP) EARS Music Group (release date: August 2, 2016) www.tonyalewistaylor.com By Bob Marovich In 2015, Rhythm of Gospel Award winner Tonya Lewis Taylor landed on the Billboard Top Gospel Singles chart with “Thank You.” She’s done it again just recently with her latest single, “I’m a Winner.” Both selections are on I’ve Got to Win, a five-track EP she released in August. “I know the race has not been won, because I’m still running,” Taylor, a former background singer for pop artists and one-time publicist for Roc-a-Fella Records, announced to the audience on ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 17, 2016

“Give Thanks” Doe Jones (release date: October 20, 2016) www.doeforeverjones.com Listeners will be familiar with Dominique “Doe” Jones from the family band foreverJONES, for whom she co-wrote and sang the hit single, “He Wants It All.” There’s much more to this singer-songwriter and musician, and if listeners didn’t figure it out with her outstanding power pop-inspirational “Most of All” (from foreverJONES’ Musical Revival), her latest solo single, “Give Thanks,” provides ample demonstration of her unfiltered, untampered-with talent. The song’s self-confident expression of gratitude for victory through God is buoyed by an acoustic funky soul evocative of Corinne Bailey Rae and ...

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Dawn Turner – God’s Thoughts

Dawn Turner God’s Thoughts (EP) Story Book Music, Inc. (2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/dawnturner By Bob Marovich Buffalo, New York, native Dawn Turner is a fine church singer. She’s not a shouter, squaller, or melismatic artisan but, as she demonstrates on “God’s Name,” one of the five cuts on her God’s Thoughts EP, she can sure enough deliver blue notes while singing flatfooted. Turner is also a songwriter, and all but one of the tracks on God’s Thoughts are her own compositions. One, “Giving is a Ministry,” is an ode to the importance of tithing and the blessings that come from grateful giving. It ...

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Charles Jenkins – Think About These Things

Charles Jenkins Think About These Things Inspired People LLC / EMPIRE (release date: September 2, 2016) http://inspiredpeoplemusic.com By Bob Marovich I have followed Pastor Charles Jenkins since his Fellowship Chicago debut and Stellar Award-winning The Best of Both Worlds, which offered pew-burning odes to the church’s traditional gospel legacy and gave us the gospel smash and spiritual earworm, “Awesome.” The follow-up, Any Given Sunday, tamped down the high-charged gospel of Worlds with more helpings of P&W, save for the single, “War,” but it still contained songs to teach the church choir. So trust me when I tell you that Pastor Jenkins’s solo ...

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Trisha Alicia – Pieces

Trisha Alicia Pieces New Day Christian Distributors (2016) www.trishalicia.com By Bob Marovich Martrisha Atkins (aka Trisha Alicia) is a singer-songwriter and spoken word artist whose album, Pieces, is a string of selections designed to tell a story—her story—not so much to achieve personal catharsis, though I’m sure it does, but more so to help others better understand their own story. With the notable exception of the title track, one of the album’s lyrical high points, don’t expect Trisha to hand her story to you on a silver platter. Instead, she offers droplets of truths throughout the album, which on its ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 10, 2016

“Walking in Victory” Angela “Missy” Billups E’Mazin Entertainment (2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/angelamissybillups6 New York-based singer Missy Billups returns to her traditional roots on her latest single, “Walking in Victory.” This uptempo call-and-response piece, which Billups introduced at gospel conventions this summer, contains a calypso-sounding chorus that offers a vivid image of Billups strutting across the platform in a victory walk. Traditional soul notwithstanding, the song wears a contemporary vibe as Billups exuberantly celebrates spiritual release and declares victory over her family and her future.  I personally enjoy when Missy puts the P&W aside and gets her old school on, as she does ...

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