Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: November 25, 2014

“Real” BeWill www.bewillmusic.com Virginia singer, songwriter, rapper, and producer Will Stewart (aka BeWill) offers a brisk, refreshing ode to faith. It’s about the power of a God who he can’t see but nevertheless knows guides him throughout his day and provides beautiful gifts “from up above.” The inspirational message is fortified by a pulsing pop-urban AC arrangement and strong background vocalists. BeWill’s new EP, Praying for a Miracle, features Grace Gilliam and can be heard and purchased here: (prayingforamiracle.bandcamp.com/album/praying-for-a-miracle). The title track is a semifinalist in The International Songwriting Competition and also song of the month winner in The Songwriters ...

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“Are You Ready” – J. Maddox

“Are You Ready” J. Maddox Jadox Music Group (2014) www.IAmJMaddox.com On “Are You Ready,” urban AC gospel artist William Jermaine Maddox (aka J. Maddox) knows what to do to prepare, should Jesus come “like a thief in the night.” Later in the song, he turns the question outward, to the listener. Are you ready should Jesus come? The simplicity of the question is augmented by the minimal instrumentation (mostly keys) and a dramatic melody, which seems to float in space. In addition to his solo career, J. Maddox is a member of Kevin Lemons & Higher Calling and sings with ...

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JGM Christmas Pick of the Week: November 19, 2014

“Christ Is Born” Maurice Griffin From the CD My Holiday (2014) www.MauriceGriffinOnline.com Maurice Griffin’s new single, “Christ Is Born,” is a Christmas hymn and Praise & Worship song all in one gift-wrapped package (though I have a friend who thinks all P&W songs sound like Christmas songs). A finalist on the second season of BET’s Sunday Best, Stellar Award nominee, and an entertaining program emcee, Griffin is in great tenor voice on this selection. He and the background vocalists lift hallelujahs and announce Christ’s natal day like a choir of angels. Griffin, who keeps getting better and better vocally, will take his ...

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“Fix My Choir” Helps Gospel Group Find Its Soul

“Fix My Choir” With Deitrick Haddon and Michelle Williams Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – 10 p.m. ET/PT Oxygen www.nbcunv.com By Bob Marovich To borrow the main conceit from The Wizard of Oz, Deitrick Haddon and Michelle Williams helped the Harmonistic Praise Crusade of New Orleans find its courage on the premiere episode of “Fix My Choir.” On the series’s latest episode, to air on Oxygen this evening, the choir-mending duo visit the beautiful oceanside community of Hermosa Beach, California, to help the Coast Music Gospel Choir find its soul. Directed by singer and voice teacher Raffia Ford, the Coast Music Gospel Choir is mostly Caucasian—“white people who live ...

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Bessie Jones with the Georgia Sea Island Singers and Others: Get In Union

Bessie Jones with the Georgia Sea Island Singers and Others Get In Union: Recordings by Alan Lomax 1959-1966 Tompkins Square (released, October 28, 2014) www.tompkinssquare.com By Bob Marovich Students of ethnomusicology and folk music enthusiasts fortunate enough to hear the two or three LPs of Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers can tell you the thrill of hearing the group’s music for the first time. The singers’ dedication to preserving a music with roots that run all the way back to West Africa has enabled generations to hear something of the foundation of spirituals, the blues, jazz, gospel, and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 17, 2014

“I Got the Victory” Signature From the Birmingham Entertainment/Epic Entity Music Group album Bigger Than All (2014) www.WeAreSignatureMusic.com “I Got the Victory,” the latest single from Birmingham, Alabama female trio Signature, pulls its extroverted beats and holy swagger from the musical playbooks of Mary Mary and Trin-i-tee 5:7. Signature sings several triumphal chants of joy for having favor, all prefaced by a dramatic movie-intro flourish. Comprised of Kristie Robinson, Bonnie Lett, and Michelle Lett, Signature garnered public attention after their single, “Bigger Than All,” bubbled under in Billboard. If dissimilar in melody, “Bigger” and “Victory” share a bold vocal sound, ...

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KSE Sunshine Band – Children in Perfected Praise: Live From Kansas City

KSE Sunshine Band Children in Perfected Praise: Live from Kansas City (2013) Available from digital music retailers By Bob Marovich Early in Church of God in Christ history, founder Bishop Charles Harrison Mason tasked the denomination’s Women’s Division to establish sunshine bands, or choral groups, to provide COGIC children with a musical outlet steeped in religion. For the past century or so, tens of thousands of saints—from everyday people to sacred and secular music superstars—have come up through a sunshine band. The forty-member Kansas East Jurisdictional Sunshine Band Recording Choir, under the direction of Sis. Jean Henderson, is one of these ensembles. In addition ...

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Kim Dexter – Reaching

Kim Dexter Reaching (released June 2014) www.kimdexter.com By Bob Marovich Completed thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, Reaching is the sophomore effort of singer-songwriter Kim Dexter, the Phoenix-born former lead singer of the Christian rock band, Mayfair Laundry. Reaching is a melodically lovely, atmospheric set of praise songs that pulls from a musical palette of rock, pop, new age, folk, and CCM. Dexter intended the album to be a worship project, and she has succeeded. The praise is vertically directed and gushes from an overflowing soul. When on the airy “Freedom, ” she sings,  “This is my living in the happy ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 11, 2014

“Sanctified Circle” Roy Tyler & Raphael Saadiq www.reverbnation.com/roytyler (510) 839-2884 – call between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time Former Gospel Hummingbird Roy Tyler and former Tony! Toni! Toné! member Raphael Saadiq have been teaming up recently to keep the standard of R&B-flavored gospel uplifted. This includes a recently released single, “Sanctified Circle.” Evoking the ring shout tradition in spirit if not technically in rhythm, “Sanctified Circle” is an uptempo piece about “crossing the separating line,” entering “the sanctified circle,” and getting a new walk and new dance. In between verses, the musicians break into a ’60s twist riff ...

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