Reviews

“Thank You Lord” – Pastor Mack Mason

“Thank You Lord” Pastor Mack Mason Independent (release date: October 17, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Fronting a team of smooth female vocalists, Pastor Mack Mason doesn’t hold back as he testifies with gushes of gratitude on “Thank You Lord.” The robust-voiced Mason sings at the upper edge of his baritone range, revving up in the song’s vamp, which apexes in the song’s finest moment—an ad libbed shout of joy and relief: “You’re the best friend that I’ve ever had – whoooo!” A veteran radio announcer, author, and publisher, Pastor Mason now helms his grandfather’s church, Greater Prayer Garden Church ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 9, 2020

“9 Makes Us 1” Legacy Five & the Wardlaw Brothers Daywind Records (release date: October 16, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Sung by a combination of two quartets, one representing southern gospel and the other gospel music, the smooth ballad “9 Makes Us 1” underscores the significance and necessity of racial amity. The nine singers meet in the musical middle, blending the best of their respective styles into one meaty mélange that evokes a 1990s pop ballad. Despite music marketing categories based on race, white and black quartets have historically emulated one another. Groups like the Jordanaires and Blackwood Brothers ...

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“Help Them Out” – Charles Jerkins

“Help Them Out”Charles Jerkinswww.charlesjerkinsmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich Charles Jerkins’ “Help Them Out” is an R&B-infused ballad about extending compassion to the ones who need it most. But the aid goes beyond basic human needs, Charles sings, because extending a helping hand or words of encouragement—“showing the love of Jesus”—can also lead to that person’s soul salvation. By the song’s vamp, Charles abandons balladeering for pulpiteering, extemporizing in a blue tonality as the BGVs coo “help them out” behind him. Charles is uncle to producers and songwriters Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins and “Uncle Freddie” Jerkins III. In fact, Freddie co-wrote “Help ...

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Bishop Bobby Ingram & the Legendary Trenton Allstars

Bishop Bobby Ingram & the Legendary Trenton AllstarsBlessings Keep Coming1 Sound Music Group (release date: September 11, 2018) By Bob Marovich With five tracks and a bonus selection, Blessings Keep Coming by Bishop Bobby Ingram and the Legendary Trenton Allstars is technically an EP, but the North Carolina-based male quartet ekes out as much utility as it can from the limited disc time. The title track is a hard-charging celebration of continual blessings for not just basic necessities but also the grander goodness of peace and happiness. “Praise His Name” sets the Biblical Gospel Singers’ classic congregation favorite “I Came ...

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DOE – DOE (EP)

DOE DOE (EP) Life Room / RCA Inspiration (release date: October 30, 2020) www.rcainspiration.com By Robert M. Marovich Gospel music enthusiasts first heard DOE (Dominique Jones) as lead singer and composer of “He Wants It All,” the debut single by twice GRAMMY-nominated forever JONES, her family’s gospel music ensemble. Since then, the winsome singer has gone solo, earning a third GRAMMY nomination for her collaboration with Jonathan McReynolds on the single, “Cycles.” Not surprisingly, as their musical styles are similar, DOE’s first solo EP is on McReynolds’ newly-formed label, Life Room, in partnership with RCA Inspiration. Like McReynolds, DOE is ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 26, 2020

“Never Give Up” Tasha Cobbs Leonard From the Motown Gospel CD Royalty: Live at the Ryman www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Although the gospel-meets-country selections on Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s new album, Royalty: Live at the Ryman, are the most fascinating, none of them surpasses the beautiful ballad, “Never Give Up.” Leonard moves from poignant to passionate, from vulnerable to victorious, as she relates how she had her doubts with “the walls closing in” and  while “so many others gave up on me,” but “you waited for me with your arms wide open.” “Never Give Up” offers some of Leonard’s most expansive singing ...

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Shirley Caesar – “Take Your Knee Off My Neck”

By Bob Marovich Give it up for Pastor Shirley Caesar. She stands once again, unafraid, and speaks her mind through music. Caesar, whose heart-wrenching “Mother Emanuel” honored the nine who lost their lives in the 2015 shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, is back with another protest anthem called “Take Your Knee Off My Neck.” The new song attacks the literal and figurative asphyxiation of African Americans at the hands of police and by the violence and apathy of white America. Declaring “Black Lives Matter,” she speaks their names, including George Floyd (“a lynching in broad daylight”), ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 19, 2020

“One More Time” Cynthia Adams Sound of Chayil (release date: June 19, 2020) By Bob Marovich From the countrified guitar intro and the hand clapping rhythm to the spirited vamp, Cynthia Adams’ “One More Time” takes listeners to church, and not just any church, but the little wooden church on the hill. Adams rejoices about the simple things, like being given another day of life to “be in the service.” She takes nothing for granted, singing and occasionally squalling as the background vocalists answer her like a congregation. Produced by Willie Thomas and Ron Rawls, “One More Time” is the ...

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Shirley McNeil & Singers of Faith – You Can Count on Me

Shirley McNeil & Singers of Faith You Can Count on Me Independent (2020) By Bob Marovich Originally issued in 2018, I’m All You See by the female quartet Shirley McNeil & Singers of Faith has received a makeover and is angling for national attention under a new title, You Can Count on Me. Buoyed by Ray Braswell Jr’s crisp production, the album features contemporary gospel quartet singing just like one hears in the Carolinas, from whence the group hails. Songs with conventional church messages benefit from standard modern instrumentation, mid-range harmonies, and call-and-response work between the quartet and lead singer ...

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Jekalyn Carr – Changing Your Story Live!

Jekalyn Carr Changing Your Story Live! Lunjeal/The Orchard (release date: October 23, 2020) www.iamjekalyncarr.com By Bob Marovich Jekalyn Carr has achieved more by age 23 than most people will accomplish in a lifetime. With six Top 10 gospel singles under her belt, four hitting number one, plus several albums, a book, an e-course, acting credentials, Dove and Stellar awards, a GRAMMY nomination, and an endless stream of singing and speaking appearances, Carr is living proof of the power of her life-affirming messages. Recorded at Atlanta’s Praise in the Park event last October, Changing Your Story Live! is full of essentially ...

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