Reviews

Karen Clark Sheard – Destined to Win

Karen Clark Sheard Destined to Win Karew Records (2015) www.karewrecords.com By Bob Marovich “Can I take some time to talk to you? / To share a message to encourage you?” Karen Clark Sheard asks in “The Who Doesn’t Matter,” the opening of her new CD, Destined to Win, and a selection featuring fellow songstress Faith Evans. Sheard’s simple request sets the thematic tone for a live album that is chock-a-block with airs of encouragement and reassurance that no matter what happens in life, God will be there to make things right. Just believe and don’t give up. Bolstered by the deft ...

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Jason Alvarez – Time for Miracles

Jason Alvarez Time for Miracles (release date: March 23, 2015) www.jamm.org By Bob Marovich Ever wonder what happened to the bearded guy who sang alongside Sylvia Robinson on the 1975 proto-disco hit “Shame Shame Shame?” The guy who “got my sun roof down, got my diamond in the back” and implored you in a high-pitched shout to “put on your shaky wig, baby?” Jason Alvarez became a music star, but with that came an unfortunate addiction to drugs. With the help of his wife, Gale, Alvarez got clean, got saved, signed a record deal with Light Records, but then forsook ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 20, 2015

“Back to Basics 2.0 – The Remix” Mel Holder feat. Gerald Alston Psalmist Music Group (2015) www.melholder.com There’s a first time for everything, and saxophonist Mel Holder’s single, “Back to Basics,” may be the first gospel song to include a slithery klezmer riff. A chugging beat doubles the tempo of the original “Back to Basics” as guest vocalist Gerald Alston of the Manhattans reflects back on the power and the glory of old school church. He implores listeners to “get back to the rudiments: prayer, praise, worship, and the Word.” Born in Queens, New York, of Panamanian descent, the Grammy- and ...

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“Healer” – Lady Renee

“Healer” Lady Renee www.LadyRenee.org To a conventional CCM melody penned by Australian artist Michael Guglielmucci, Lady Renee sings praises to the Lord with rising passion and gusto that can only come from the wellspring of personal conviction. Towards the end of the song, Lady Renee lines out a litany of issues, including depression, oppression, cancer, and AIDS, but the battle she fought was infertility, which resulted in several miscarriages. Yet and still (as the old folks would say), she and her husband finally conceived a child, which no doubt fueled her emotional outpouring on the single. Lady Renee is Chief ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 13, 2015

“The Promise” Tiff Joy Tyscot Records/Walkway Music Group/VMan Entertainment Chicagoan Tiffany Joy McGhee, known as Tiff Joy, wrote and was featured on “Amazing,” the title track of Ricky Dillard & New G’s latest, and arguably most popular, album. “Amazing” earned her a Stellar Award for Song of the Year. We hear Tiff Joy again on “The Promise.” This smoothly-produced, radio-ready single is a declaration to remain steadfast in faith and hope, because when “God said it, that settles it.” She carries the song in her sandy alto until the vamp, when she shouts the song’s explicit and final declaration: “It ...

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AsOne – s/t

AsOne AsOne 360 MusicWorx/Capitol Christian Distribution/Universal Music Group (release date: June 23, 2015) www.AsOneOfficial.com By Bob Marovich Interracial gospel/sacred singing groups go back more than a century—from the days of Polk Miller & the Old South Quartette at the turn of the twentieth century to Homer Rodeheaver’s singing with the African American Wiseman Sextette; and from Gene Viale (of Puerto Rican heritage) in the Cleveland Singers, Elizabeth Meagher in the Exodus Singers, and the multicultural Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. The color of the skin counts less than the color of the voice, and there are rich hues in the voices and ...

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“My Everything” – The Selvys

“My Everything” The Selvys Lunjeal Music Group/Malaco Music Group www.malaco.com With the Showers, foreverJONES, the Jones Family Singers, and the Murrills, you’d think that family gospel groups are the latest music fad. In truth, family gospel groups have been around since the beginning. The Ward Singers, Brown Sisters, Davis Sisters, Gay Sisters, Ingramettes, Hightower Brothers, and Pilgrim Jubilees are just a few who spring immediately to mind.  There are scores more. The Selvys of Earle, Arkansas, have been singing the glory down as a professional gospel group for 25 years. Organized by Reverend Jesse Selvy Jr. and Johnnie Selvy, the ...

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Mike Lee – All I Need (EP)

Mike Lee All I Need Mike Lee Music (release date: June 16, 2015) www.mikeleemusic.com By Bob Marovich Fort Wayne, Indiana. worship leader and mixed martial arts gym owner Mike Lee follows up his full-length national debut LP Awakening Hearts with a seven-track acoustic EP called All I Need. With a final push, courtesy of crowdfunding, the EP was released to the public on June 16. Despite juggling several challenges, notably a father in chemotherapy for lung cancer and a brand new baby, Lee makes the world sound bright and breezy on the EP with his simple melodies, introspective lyrics, and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 6, 2015

“He Touched Me” Dr. LouDella Evans-Reid and the Traditional Gospel Choir www.loudellaevansreid.com If you like that aggressive, churchy gospel choir sound that came straight outta Chicago, false coda and all, you will love “He Touched Me.” This Thurston Frazier chestnut is given a full-throttle reading by the Traditional Gospel Choir, presented by Rev. Bryant Jones and directed by Dr. LouDella Evans-Reid. Both Jones and Reid have plenty of trad cred. Jones is a pastor and the son of gospel singer Jeannette Robinson Jones and the late Rev. Billy Jones. Reid is the longstanding and aerobic directress of the Fellowship Missionary ...

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E. L. Williams – Where Sin Met the Blood

E. L. Williams Where Sin Met the Blood Tate Music Group (2015) www.tatemusicgroup.com By Bob Marovich There was a time when bass singers were compulsory for any self-respecting quartet, but today they are as rare as hen’s teeth, save for classical music and opera, where the basso profundo remains the voice of maturity and wisdom, and retro doo-wop groups. Gospel quartet was once notably gifted with such legendary bottom-supporters as George McCurn (Pilgrim Travelers), Jimmy Jones (Harmonizing Four), Dickie Freeman (Fairfield Four, Skylarks), and Thomas Spann (Brooklyn All Stars), the latter being among the last of his breed still on ...

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