Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: May 8, 2018

“Blessing Me” Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir From the City of Peace CD Sure. Focused. Centered (2017) By Bob Marovich Despite the jaunty piano intro and thunderous singing of the NextGeneration Choir, “Blessing Me” belongs to its fiery lead vocalist, Meaghan Williams-McNeal. Her feisty shouts and squalls lead the group on this churchy offering of thanksgiving for blessings bestowed. It is one of those songs that seems to anticipate a praise break.  Not surprisingly, Williams-McNeal is pursuing a solo career. Dr. F. James Clark and the NextGeneration Choir hail from the Shalom Church (City of Peace) of Florissant, Missouri. Their debut album, 2015’s Simply Amazing, ...

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Rev. Elijah Baker Sr. – Palm of His Hand

Rev. Elijah Baker Sr. Palm of His Hand (EP) Ambitious Records (release date: September 9, 2017) By Bob Marovich Anyone who thinks traditional gospel quartet is dead and gone hasn’t heard the Reverend Elijah Baker Sr.’s Palm of His Hand. The octogenarian Baker, together with background vocalists that sound for all the world like a seasoned quartet, deliver material like the Blind Boys of Alabama, complete with antiphonal singing, tight harmonies, and driving musicianship. There are no synthesized sounds here. Propelling the group is the 1970s era combination of grooved-in electric guitar, electric bass, organ, and drums. Baker’s nephew, singer-songwriter ...

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Renee’ Austin – Songbirds & Angels

Renee’ Austin Songbirds & Angels (Release Date: April 7, 2018) www.reneeaustin.org By Bob Marovich In 2005, blue-eyed blues and soul songstress Renee’ Austin was a rising star in the music business. She had signed a record deal with Blind Big Records, shared the stage with top charting artists, and was featured in a PBS special called Blues Divas, hosted by Morgan Freeman. But finding a lump in her throat, Austin underwent surgery. The result left her with a paralyzed left vocal cord and the diagnosis that she would never be able to sing again. Heartbroken, Austin cauterized music from her life but ...

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The Zion Messengers – I’m Ready

The Zion Messengers I’m Ready 1500 GOSPEL (release date: September 1, 2015) By Bob Marovich If you’ve heard Snoop Dogg’s gospel album, Bible of Love, you’ve heard the Zion Messengers. They are the young quartet from Los Angeles that sings on Bible of Love‘s “Going Home.” But you don’t get to appear on Bible of Love without gospel music experience. Indeed, the Zion Messengers released their own album, I’m Ready, back in 2015. The quartet sounds just as confident on this earlier album as they do on Snoop Dogg’s. Although endeavoring to make I’m Ready as contemporary as possible, the ...

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Kendrick Evans – Live Therapy Session

Kendrick Evans Live Therapy Session Rock the Cause Records (release date: September 29, 2017) By Bob Marovich Appearing on the CW docu-drama My Last Days, award-winning gospel singer Kendrick Evans of Quincy, Florida, opened up about his acute sleep apnea that doctors said would give him about three more years to live. Eschewing the surgery that would probably have ruined his voice, Evans chose to find other remedies so he could sing. And sing he does. Evans uses his Live Therapy Session as a musical variant of the mental health counseling the title suggests. He puts all of his stuff out ...

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Various Artists: JDI Classics – Gospel Music for All Occasions

Various Artists JDI Classics: Gospel Music for All Occasions JDI Records (release date: April 6, 2018) By Bob Marovich JDI Records founder and CEO James Roberson has been doing some spring cleaning. In the case of The Essential Beverly Crawford, Vol. 2 as well as with this new JDI Classics release, Robertson has been reissuing items from the company’s estimable catalog. JDI Classics: Gospel Music for All Occasions is a clever repackaging conceit and something of a greatest hits collection for the Los Angeles-based label. Some of the songs are older. For example, Norman Hutchins’ “Emmanuel” (the Christmas choice) is ...

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The Essential Beverly Crawford, Volume 2

Beverly Crawford The Essential – Vol. 2 JDI Records (release date: February 2, 2018) By Bob Marovich Gainesville, Florida, gospel singer Beverly Crawford is a steadfast traditionalist, and God bless her for it. She is among the most popular of those singers who perpetuate the audience-rousing squalling and shouting characteristic of old time evangelism, and who still sings songs packed with church aphorisms and mother wit. As was the case with the first volume of The Essential Beverly Crawford (2005), neither “It’s About Time for a Miracle” nor “Sweeping Through the City” are included on The Essential – Volume 2, despite ...

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The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down

The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down Put Together Music (release date: February 16, 2018) www.shawnamos.com By Bob Marovich The Reverend Shawn Amos might just be the most righteous preacher who’s not a preacher. Amos, whose mother was nightclub singer Shirl-ee May and whose father was a William Morris Agency executive and founder of Famous Amos cookies, is not a licensed ordained minister. Nevertheless, he uses his platform to speak truth to power, and pulls on a lifetime spent in the music business to accentuate the urgency of his message with fistfuls of biting blues guitar and harmonica. “21st Century Freedom ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 9, 2018

“Believe” Ese-Osa April Sound https://www.facebook.com/eseosamusic/ By Bob Marovich The gospel artist formerly known as Liosa offers “Believe,” a lovely ballad of personal encouragement sung as part prayer and part soaring affirmation. To a lilting piano, Ese-Osa’s beguiling alto delivers her hopeful message with dead-on conviction and apexes with a range-extending shout. Ese-Osa, christened Osasuyi Deborah Esosa, hails from Edo State in southern Nigeria. After joining the Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical Students choir, she helped the troupe record its first album by writing most of the selections. By 2008, she launched her solo career and since then has garnered two South-South ...

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“We Livin'” – Tina Campbell

“We Livin’” Tina Campbell From the Gee Tee Creative / Malaco Records album It’s Still Personal (release date: September 29, 2017) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Tina Campbell is “livin’ that blessed life” but, as you’ll hear, there’s two interpretations of that statement. On her latest single, “We Livin’,” Tina, one-half of the Mary Mary gospel duo, sings that your high life isn’t so high if God isn’t a part of it. She acknowledges that people want to live big, garnering material wealth and respect, and she doesn’t disparage it.  She herself has reaped rich rewards in her singing career.  But at ...

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