Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: November 9, 2015

“Yes Lord Yes” Pastor Paul Ruffin & the Forge Temple COGIC Sanctuary Choir From the Heavenly Spirit Music CD Yes Lord (2014) www.cdbaby.com/cd/pastorpaulruffinpresents Using the Church of God in Christ’s signature “Yes Lord” chant as its springboard, Pastor Paul Ruffin and the Forge Temple COGIC Sanctuary Choir of Birmingham, Alabama, construct a gospel piece out of a staccato declaration to serve the Lord. Vetrea Slack Ruffin, of the singing Ruffin Family, directs the Forge Temple choir and wrote this song, which features enough bluesy spots and classic chord progressions to pierce the heart of any traditionalist. Yes, Virginia, old school gospel ...

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Deitrick Haddon – Masterpiece

Deitrick Haddon Masterpiece eOne/DH Visions/Releve’ Entertainment (release date: November 6, 2015) www.eonemusic.com By Bob Marovich We are blank canvasses that God, the ultimate artist, fashions into beautiful works of art, declares Deitrick Haddon on the title track of his new album, Masterpiece, released yesterday. But it’s the blank canvas or, more accurately, the damaged canvas, not the finished painting, which captures Haddon’s interest. Observing from the rarefied air of a man “who ain’t got nothing to prove or lose,” he warns humanity to clean its canvas by getting right with itself and with God. Why? Because this is his story, too, ...

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Derrick “Doc” Pearson – No Greater Love (CD/DVD)

Derrick “Doc” Pearson No Greater Love IAM Music (2015) By Bob Marovich No Greater Love, a CD/DVD retrospective of the IAM Music Company of Clinton, Maryland, is a celebration of the company’s ten years of existence and a greatest hits package for IAM Music’s co-founder, Derrick “Doc” Pearson, who participates in one way or another on all of the Scripture-based music selections. A versatile bass player, singer, songwriter, and producer, Pearson (“Doc” stands for Disciple of Christ), cut his musical teeth on 1970s and 1980s soft soul and funk while working with the likes of the O’Jays and Whispers. The songs ...

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Bridgett Kern – No One Greater

Bridgett Kern No One Greater Dream Label Group (release date: August 7, 2015) www.bridgettkern.com By Bob Marovich Although not advertised explicitly as such, Bridgett Kern’s new Praise & Worship project, No One Greater, is a live recording. That’s a good thing, as P&W comes off best live. After all, the style was created to enliven the live worship experience. I would argue that almost all gospel music sounds better live, but that’s a discussion for another time. Back to No One Greater. The first portion of Kern’s CD features the energetic and effusive P&W singing and hard-hitting musicianship heard in ...

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Apostle Dr. Ross D. Garrison Jr. – We Will Worship, Volume 1

Apostle Dr. Ross D. Garrison Jr. We Will Worship – Volume One Lions Roar Productions (2011) By Bob Marovich It makes sense that Apostle Dr. Ross D. Garrison Jr.’s first live Praise & Worship CD was recorded at Love Center Ministries in Oakland, California, on July 11, 2011, exactly one year to the day after the passing of Bishop Walter Hawkins. The album, We Will Worship – Volume One, has more in common with the Hawkins Family’s choral outings than with today’s definition of Praise & Worship music. In fact, the album features so many delightfully traditional gospel elements that ...

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“Heaven Belongs to You” – The Alabama Gurlz

“Heaven Belongs to You” The Alabama Gurlz From 4 Winds Records CD “The Gurlz” Live (2014) www.malaco.com “Y’all ready to go to church?” Stephania Johnson asks the church audience kindly. Not receiving a proper response, she growls in frustration: “Y’all don’t want to go to no church with me!” That does the trick, and the congregation connects with the Alabama Gurlz as they commence with “Heaven Belongs To You,” an evangelistic call-and-response with a jaunty tempo and led by Johnson with demonstrative insistence. The premise is simple: Heaven is yours to lose. It is a singular example of the ladies’ ...

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Howard Ziwa – Dawn

Howard Ziwa Dawn – Volume 1 www.ziwamusic.com By Bob Marovich Howard Ziwa’s Dawn—I’m tempted to call it an EP because it has eight tracks and weighs in at under thirty minutes—has its high points and low points. Let’s start with the high points. The EP’s finest selections, “Alele” and “Let It Be,” are fueled by the brisk polyrhythms, vertical praise lyrics, and instrumental sensibilities of the gospel music from Ziwa’s native Africa (he was born in Kampala, Uganda). Those familiar with African gospel music know that it is often ignited by insistent drums and an ostinato riff on keyboard or ...

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Bishop Samuel R. Blakes – I Survived

Bishop Samuel R. Blakes I Survived Top Music Group/Fountain of Life Records/ Central South Distribution (release date: July 31, 2015) By Bob Marovich The African American church is blessed with many pastors who can sing. I mean really sing. Bishop Samuel R. Blakes is one of them. Senior Pastor of New Orleans- and Baton Rouge-based New Home Ministries, Bishop Blakes possesses those classic gravelly, pulpit-worn gospel pipes that communicate an I’ve-been-there-so-I-know honesty. His voice, which runs the gamut from shout to meaty croon, is ideal for the material on his album, I Survived, a selection of neo-traditional songs filled with wooden-church ...

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Yardley Griffin – Hear Me Now

Yardley Griffin Hear Me Now Black Market Blue (release date: September 11, 2015) www.blackmarket.blue By Bob Marovich Yardley Griffin knew from age seven that he wanted to serve God. At sixteen he began writing songs and turned his interest in music into a job as worship leader at Destiny Church, the Sacramento, California, church founded by his grandfather in 1963. Griffin is now executive pastor of Destiny Church, but more responsibility has not stalled his singing pursuit. In September, he released Hear Me Now, a mostly live recording of original songs. During Hear Me Now, we discover that the wiry Griffin is ...

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“Hold On” – Debbie Orange

“Hold On” Debbie Orange Debbie Orange Publishing Company (2015) www.DebbieOrange.com Chicago-based Debbie Orange’s new single, “Hold On,” is an inadvertent but ideal herald of the coming year. I doubt she intended it to be so, but her mid-tempo hand-clapper, produced by Montage Pheloan, is the kind of optimistic gospel song that, while effective year-round, is especially suited for radio play during the New Year holidays. Whereas the Cotton Brothers’ “Another New Year”—the gospel bluesy New Year’s Day radio favorite—showers appreciation on the Lord for navigating us safely through the trials of the previous year, Orange declares that we look ahead to ...

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