Reviews

Deon Kipping – A Place Called Victory (EP)

Deon Kipping A Place Called Victory EP RCA Inspiration (January 8, 2016) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Connecticut’s Deon Kipping stepped into the gospel music spotlight first as a songwriter (with JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise’s “Incredible God, Incredible Praise”) and as a featured vocalist almost immediately thereafter (on “Incredible God, Incredible Praise”). From there, his music and singing took him to the Billboard charts. A Place Called Victory is Kipping’s latest release and as an EP, it is a foretaste of a full album soon to follow. The four selections are well chosen because they are all effervescently sung by ...

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Kassandra McGhee – Heavenscape: A Call to Worship

Kassandra McGhee Heavenscape: A Call to Worship (release date: August 28, 2015) www.mypower4living.com By Bob Marovich Ten tension-taming tracks comprise Evangelist Kassandra McGhee’s latest album, Heavenscape: A Call to Worship. True to its title, and in keeping with McGhee’s work as a praise and worship singer in and around Chicago, the songs in lyric and arrangement are all about vertical praise. It is clear from the opening selection, “Prelude of Worship,” that McGhee’s songwriting and voice have matured greatly since her 2009 release, Completely. First off, she is a more confident soprano, showing greater strength and support, but not to the ...

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“Jesus” – Rodriquez Linson & Ministry

“Jesus” Rodriquez Linson & Ministry Linson Enterprise & BigBoyMusicGroup www.cdbaby.com/Artist/RodriquezLinsonMinistry Detroit organist Rod Linson & Ministry’s single, “Jesus,” is an intense call-and-response invocation of the Lord’s name and goodness. With flourishes of thunderous harmony, the ensemble sings in a minor key but resolves the motives in a major key. Nominated for four 2016 Rhythm of Gospel Awards, the group released its debut album, Oh Lord, Hear My Cry (Psalms 141) in late 2014. Fellow Detroiter Dr. E. LaQuint Weaver contributes two lead solos on the album.

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New Friendship Anointed Voices – Legacy Fulfilled

Pastor Royce F. Thompson Sr. Presents New Friendship Anointed Voices A Long Time Coming: Legacy Fulfilled (released December 12, 2015) www.nfmbcofgary.org By Bob Marovich A Long Time Coming: Legacy Fulfilled may be the first gospel CD to recommend itself solely on the basis of its praise break alone. Not that the other tracks on the Gary, Indiana, church’s debut album aren’t quality—they certainly are—but the nine minute praise break that follows Anthony Hardin’s hand-clapper “Just Like You” represents the exuberant Holy Ghost experience better than any project has in a long time. The listener feels as exhausted as those who ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 18, 2016

“Trust and Depend” Voncile Belcher From the CD Phenomenal www.ladyvoncile.com Taken at pulse-racing praise break tempo, “Trust and Depend” finds traditional gospel singer Lady Voncile Belcher clad in her shouting shoes, evangelizing to the congregation about the importance of leaning on the Lord during the toughest of times. If your “life’s in despair” or your “bills are due and all your money’s gone,” the Alabama native sings, trust Him. You can imagine her walking the full length of the aisle teaching this time-honored lesson. Meanwhile, the synth imitates brass as the drums bear down with a vengeance. Quick and effective.

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Dr. Karry D. Wesley Presents the Antioch Fellowship Church Voices of Praise: Speak to My Heart

Dr. Karry D. Wesley Presents the Antioch Fellowship Church Voices of Praise Speak to My Heart Antioch Fellowship MBC (release date: January 15, 2016) www.afmbc.org By Bob Marovich Big churches need big choirs, and big choirs need a big sound to fill a big church. The Voices of Praise choir envelops the 54,000 square-foot Worship Center of the Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas—a state where big is boss—with its thunderous timbre. That, and a contemporary flourish with no small amount of traditional flair. The choir’s self-produced debut album, Speak to My Heart, offers up examples of their ...

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Conrad Miller – Thankful

Conrad Miller Thankful Millcon Music Ministries (release date: January 15, 2016) www.conradmillermusic.com By Bob Marovich If you don’t know Conrad Miller from his relatively newfound career in the sacred music field, you may remember him as a member of 1970s smooth soul groups the Soulful Seven or the Softones. Miller’s throaty croon that helped to float the Softones’ “Carla, My Love” onto the airwaves can be heard on his latest gospel album, Thankful. Like his previous release, Keep Pressing, Thankful rides in a musically conventional lane.  True to the album’s title, most of the songs contain straightforward lyrics of praise and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 11, 2016

“Make a Way” Shanta Gray From her CD The Blood (2014) www.shantagraymusic.com On her new single, “Make a Way,” Alisa “Shanta” Gray doesn’t stray one iota from her roots as a member of the tradition-keeping Chicago Mass Choir, New Direction (founded by her husband, Jeral V. Gray), and other Chicago-based gospel choral ensembles. In fact, the single has a distinctly Cosmopolitan Warriors vibe with the frenetic pace, handclapping choir, churchy vocals, charging musicians, crowd-grabbing vamp, and Gray’s shouting vocals topping it all. “Make a Way” couldn’t be more Chicago if it wore a Bears cap and called every bridge a ...

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Trinity Dawson – With All I Am

Trinity Dawson With All I Am New Day (2015) www.trinitydawsonmusic.com By Bob Marovich Flexibility is a critical asset for a running back. It certainly helped Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Trinity Dawson. When he was a running back for the University of Toledo, flexibility helped him to enter the school record book for rushing yards. Dawson’s beguiling tenor voice is just as flexible. It is, in fact, the ideal vehicle for the easy, ambient religious music that he has embraced and showcases on his debut album, With All I Am. Dawson’s sound falls somewhere between Jonathan McReynolds and John Legend, the latter an acknowledged ...

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Jon Plair – Can You Imagine

Jon Plair Can You Imagine (self-released) www.jonplair.com By Bob Marovich Jon Plair surrounded himself with talented musicians and singers for his latest album, Can You Imagine, and it’s telling in the quality of the project. Plair, a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who now calls Detroit home, functions on the album as a master of ceremonies, a bandleader, or even a preacher, for that matter.  His authoritative interaction with his background vocalists, as well as the messages of hope and encouragement in his songs, evoke James Fortune & FIYA. In fact, Plair’s music is so evocative of Fortune & FIYA that ...

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