Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: April 17, 2017

“Touch Me” Ronica & the Blazing Stars MoDa Records (2017) RonicaTheBlazingStars@gmail.com By Bob Marovich “Touch Me” by Ronica & the Blazing Stars has the relentless up-tempo quartet backbeat and chugging guitars that recall the days when standard musical accompaniment and Holy Ghost-inspired singing were all you needed to move a congregation and shout the glory down. From Mooresville, North Carolina, lead singer Ronica Bowers evokes gospel stompers Evelyn Turrentine-Agee and Dottie Peoples. During the vamp, she cries out for anointing “in this mean old world” so she is healed and can sing and shout right (she does a pretty good ...

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Bishop J. D. Means Sr. Presents A Tribute to Sunday Morning Gospel, Volume 1, Part 1

Bishop J. D. Means Sr. Presents A Tribute to Sunday Morning Gospel, Volume 1, Part 1 Mean Means Music Group http://bishopjdmeanssr.com/ By Bob Marovich In his introductory remarks on A Tribute to Sunday Morning Gospel, Volume 1, Part 1, Dr. R. L. White Jr. says that we have greatness all around us but we fail to recognize it. He is speaking specifically of the greatness of Bishop J. D. Means Sr., but his words also ring true about the venerable hymns and gospels of the church. In our quest for the newest and hottest, we leave some of the most ...

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Montel Dorsey & MUniversity – Love Over Hate

Montel Dorsey & MUniversity Love Over Hate MUniversity Records / eOne (release date: March 17, 2017) www.MUCampusLife.com By Bob Marovich The gospel group Montel Dorsey & MUniversity sets the thematic tone of its Love Over Hate CD by opening with a montage of radio and TV newscasts covering last year’s deadly shooting in Orlando, Florida. Overdubbing his anguished declarations that nobody has the right to decide who lives or dies, that we are not God, that God is love, and that love conquers hate, Dorsey expresses his extreme distress over today’s violent world. But don’t expect an album-long head shake ...

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“My Life Has Been Changed” – Virginia Aires

“My Life Has Been Changed” Virginia Aires Dove Records (2017) www.virginiaaires.com The latest single by the Virginia Aires features lead singer Charles Stanley evoking the vocal playfulness of Rance Allen by shifting abruptly from falsetto to bass and from legato to staccato. “My Life Has Been Changed” describes the mental, physical, and spiritual changes brought about by salvation. It benefits from a traditional rocking chair tempo, Roberta Martin-esque transitions, and a live audience. Stanley really rustles the audience when he shouts, “I’m so glad God gives second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth chances!”

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“The Blood” – Charles Butler & Trinity

“The Blood” Charles Butler & Trinity From the Anointed Sounds Records album Make It (release date of single: February 2017) Charles Butler & Trinity heightens the tension dramatically and in short order on “The Blood,” a Mandel Copeland composition. Taking for its theme the redemptive power of Jesus’s death on the cross—a salient subject during this time in the liturgical year—“The Blood” begins with soft harmonies and contemporary chords but concludes with full-on preacher’s shouts and Trinity as a spiritually unshackled congregation. Mandel’s brother Josh Copeland leads, employing the same verve he had when he sang this song with the Copeland ...

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“You Are” – Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir

“You Are” Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir From the forthcoming album Sure. Focused. Centered. (release date: summer 2017) www.nextgenchoir.com By Bob Marovich Plaudits to the Most High are lifted with nimble vocalizing, a brisk tempo, and pleasantly startling punctuations of high notes by the NextGeneration Choir of the Shalom Church (City of Peace) of Florissant, Missouri. On the song’s hook, the music fades as the choir runs rapidly through a litany of names for God.  It was such an attention grabber, they could have kept on going. NextGeneration Choir, Dr. F. James Clark’s young adult chorus, hopes to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 27, 2017

“Joy!” Warren Dean Flandez, feat. Top Line Vocal Collective From the CD Eternally Grateful www.wdfworld.com On his new project, Eternally Grateful, Vancouver gospel sensation Warren Dean Flandez reprises the five-star material from his EP What the World Needs Now, adding additional tracks to round the package out. “Joy!,” featuring the talented 50-member choir known as Top Line Vocal Collective, is one of the songs brought forward from the EP. This paean to God’s goodness blends old and new seamlessly, capturing the celebratory mood found in both traditional and contemporary gospel music. Reviewing What the World Needs Now last March, I had ...

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Boo Deezy – Positive Ratchetness Vol. 1

Boo Deezy Positive Ratchetness Vol. 1 3L Records (2016) www.reverbnation.com/boodeezy904 By Bob Marovich I’ve said before that Christian hip hop artists are modern day manifestations of the early twentieth century street evangelists who took the Word out of the church and into the highways, byways, and street corners. Listening to Jacksonville, Florida, hip hop artist Boo Deezy’s mixtape, Positive Ratchetness Vol. 1, it occurs to me that some are also modern day manifestations of the Biblical prophet. Like Boo Deezy, who has the passion, the platform, the punctiliousness, and the personal experience to speak the truth about what’s happening and ...

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Favour – Fisherman

Favour Fisherman Sharlat Records (2016) www.sharpradiogospelsuperfest.com By Bob Marovich On Fisherman, their six-track EP, Detroit quartet Favour is all about getting you ready…for your blessings, for a miracle, and for the day Jesus returns. Favour is a sweet-singing quartet with the smoothness of Atlantic Starr and the Manhattans, though Shawn Upshaw’s lead vocal incorporates traditional gospel techniques. So do the lyrics, which fit squarely in the quartet mode of preaching, teaching, and in Favour’s case, preparing. Indeed, two songs telegraph preparation in their titles: “Better Be Ready” and “Things are Gonna Happen.” And in “How I Know,” the group sings that ...

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Sandra McCracken – God’s Highway

Sandra McCracken God’s Highway Independent release (release date: September 9, 2016) www.sandramccracken.com By Bob Marovich Modern day hymnist Sandra McCracken’s latest CD, God’s Highway (also available on vinyl), continues where her 2015 Psalms left off: new songs based on Biblical texts and that sound as if they came from the Primitive Baptist Church hymnbook. McCracken’s beguiling voice combines the cry of Beth Nielsen Chapman and the world-weariness of Emmylou Harris. Her lonesome singing combined with an understated combo and songs with heavy chords but bright melodies give listeners a sense of eavesdropping on the prayers of someone emerging, victorious but ...

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