Reviews

Mahalia Jackson – Moving On Up a Little Higher

Mahalia Jackson Moving On Up a Little Higher Shanachie / Spirit Feel (release date: September 30, 2016) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Moving On Up a Little Higher may well be the finest collection of Mahalia Jackson selections ever released, and ranks among Anthony Heilbut’s best produced music projects to date. It’s certainly the most historic gathering of Mahalia’s work. When I say this CD of 22 previously unreleased tracks covers 1946 to 1957, hardcore traditional gospel music fans will know what I mean. This is the Queen of Gospel Music in her prime—no Mitch Miller, no Percy Faith. Better yet, the ...

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Rev. Luther Barnes & the Restoration Worship Center Choir – The Favor of God

Rev. Luther Barnes and the Restoration Worship Center Choir The Favor of God Shanachie Entertainment (release date: September 9, 2016) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Decades ago, Luther Barnes breathed the Red Budd Gospel Choir into life at the church his father, the late Reverend F. C. Barnes, founded in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Today, Luther has a new choir, a new church, and has followed his father’s footsteps into the ministry: he is now the Reverend Luther Barnes. As Founder and Pastor of Restoration Worship Center in Rocky Mount, Barnes proudly showcases the singing of his church choir on The ...

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Best of Proverb & Gospel Corner Records: 1959-1969

Various Artists Best of Proverb & Gospel Corner Records: 1959-1969 NarroWay Records (2016) www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Gospel music has had many multi-taskers, chief among them the late Brother Henderson of Los Angeles, California. In the late 1950s, Sylvester C. “Duke” Henderson forsook his R&B singing career, hung up his rock and roll shoes, and plunged headlong into sacred music. He ran the popular All Gospel Record Store in L.A., hosted his own gospel music radio show on 50,000 watt XERB, wrote and published songs, promoted concerts, and headed up two record labels: Proverb and Gospel Corner. Despite Henderson’s prolific ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 26, 2016

“Keep on Praising” Jewell & Converted Independent; release date: September 23, 2016 www.cdbaby.com/cd/jewellconverted The fiery female quartet Jewell & Converted score their second JGM Pick of the Week with “Keep On Praising.” To a handclapping tempo, lead singer Jewell Taylor offers hypothetical personal challenges as Converted responds by chanting “What do you do?” The collective reminds the listener of how the Scriptures answer this and puts it in the vernacular: “lift up your head,” “wear a smile,” and praise your way through. “Keep On Praising” is a traditional shouter near impossible to listen to sitting down, especially during the vamp, when ...

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Christopher Williams – Stepping Out

Christopher Williams Stepping Out (private release, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/christopherwilliams24 By Bob Marovich Stepping Out by Christopher Williams, a Jacksonville, Florida, singer, songwriter, worship leader, and Rhythm of Gospel Award nominee, showcases a contemporary gospel stylist with more than a dash of smooth jazz in his veins. Most of the album’s ten songs contain pop melodies that ride along on a smooth jazz accompaniment. Not to be confused with the R&B singer of the same name, Williams is a religious vocalist with a bright, optimistic tenor not unlike other young gospel industry stars such as Jonathan McReynolds, Maurice Griffin, and Todd Dulaney. Williams interjects exquisite falsetto notes whenever he wishes ...

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Northern Delaware Chapter GMWA Recording Choir: God Be Glorified

Northern Delaware Chapter GMWA Recording Choir God Be Glorified (self-produced; release date: May 14, 2016) www.ndcgmwa.com By Bob Marovich Gospel choirs trained under the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) umbrella possess a certain style that non-GMWA choirs do not necessarily have. It’s spit-polish combined with passion, thunderous voices that can sing at a whisper, lively leads, and contemporary arrangements anchored in tradition. If GMWA was handing out seals of approval to choirs that met these standards, the Northern Delaware Chapter’s Recording Choir would get one. On the choir’s debut effort, God Be Glorified, it demonstrates a consistent command of hymns, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 19, 2016

“I Give You Praise, Lord” Chicago Mass Choir From the New Haven Records CD I Give You Praise (2016) www.chicagomasschoir.com On their latest single, “I Give You Praise, Lord,” the celebrated Chicago Mass Choir delivers P&W with P&D (power and drama). The song begins with the sopranos singing delicately, like a praise team, and opens like a flower when the key changes.  From there, the song builds to a sonorous strength. All the while, longtime Chicago Mass songwriter and producer Percy Gray lifts each line for the choir’s response and assent.  The semi-a cappella segment at the end rounds up any ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 12, 2016

“God’s Got My Back” TaMyya J MM Music Group (release date: September 2016) www.tamyyaj.com Set to an urban AC arrangement, “God’s Got My Back,” the thought-provoking single from radio host and gospel singer TaMyya J of New Jersey, is about flipping one’s thinking from negative to positive. It’s a call to develop the confidence to ignore that needling inner voice that tries to diminish you. TaMyya once thought “I’m not strong enough, wise enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough.”  Now, with God in her life, she sings “I’m fine just by being me.” “God’s Got My Back” falls lyrically ...

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Puchi Colon – Forever I Will Worship (EP)

Puchi Colon Forever I Will Worship EP Jovi Music (2016) www.puchicolon.com By Bob Marovich To my ears, Puchi (pronounced POO-chee) Colon is the reigning king of Latin Praise & Worship music. He established this position in the P&W field 20 years ago with his Spanish-language Christian albums and Salsa Worship CDs, which followed the intent of Psalm 150 by featuring congas, timbale, bongos, maracas, and a hot brass section. Released this year, Colon’s Forever I Will Worship EP continues the Puerto Rican descendant’s spicy blend of simple vertical praise songs overlaid with polyrhythm and bright instrumentation. “You Are” and “I ...

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Lift Me Up: Chicago Gospel Keyboard Masters

Various Artists Lift Me Up: Chicago Gospel Keyboard Masters The Sirens (release date: July 11, 2016) www.thesirensrecords.com By Bob Marovich Those who think traditional gospel music is dead, hapless victim of today’s P&W and urban AC influences in sacred music, The Sirens’ new release, Lift Me Up: Chicago Gospel Keyboard Masters, is proof that the music of Thomas Dorsey and Roberta Martin is as alive and bracing as ever. On August 20, 2015, The Sirens Records owner Steven B. Dolins brought together a battery of the city’s leading keyboard artists and singers: Pastor Bryant Jones, Richard Gibbs, Elsa Harris, Lavelle Lacy, ...

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