Reviews

The Showers – (self titled)

The Showers The Showers A&P Records/Habakkuk Music/INgrooves (release date: April 21, 2015) www.theshowers.org By Bob Marovich The Showers is the national debut album for the Showers Family of Hammond, Louisiana, siblings who have been singing together since knee pants and recording since 2009. The octet pulled out all the stops, too, inking a distribution deal with Habakkuk Records and signing an all-star lineup of producers, notably Bruce Robinson, Deon Kipping, Myron Butler, and Dave Geeter. Robinson and Kipping also contributed many of the album’s songs, as did gospel singer Regina Skeeters. Butler assists with vocal production on the punchy “Praise ...

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Funk Justice: 15 Fixes for Your Ministry Funks (Tami Rowbotham)

Funk Justice: 15 Fixes for Your Ministry Funks Tami Rowbotham Ministry Entrepreneur Press (2014) 251 pages Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Confession time: I was once a burned out music minister. Years of organizing the music for a local church, Sunday after Sunday, had taken its toll. Music ministry had gone from being fun to so demanding I could no longer enjoy the worship experience. That seemed unfair, and I quit. I could have used a dose of Funk Justice. In her book, Funk Justice: 15 Fixes for Your Ministry Funks, former CCM singer Tami Rowbotham uses the legal ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 12, 2015

“All My Help” Pharis Evans Jr. & Loved Ones From the Fountain of Life CD Due Season www.facebook.com/fountainofliferecords Grammy- and Stellar-nominated singer, songwriter, and producer Pharis Evans Jr. comes from great musical stock—his uncle is Rev. Dr. Clay Evans and his father is Rev. Pharis Evans Sr. ‘Nuff said. Not surprisingly, “All My Help” is a churchy offering. It has a bouncy rhythm, simple lyrics, a playful call and response between Pharis and the choir, a quartet-worthy vamp, and a cameo by Rev. Dr. Clay Evans. It’s all part of the family tradition and part of Pharis’s own commitment to ...

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Tracey McFadden – I Still Believe

Tracey McFadden I Still Believe www.traceymcfadden.org By Bob Marovich Chicagoan Tracey McFadden’s debut album, I Still Believe, was recorded live at her home church, Bread of Life Missionary Baptist Church. An intimate gathering of friends and congregants support their home girl as she moves through eight selections. The best thing McFadden did for the album was assemble a solid choir of background vocalists who support her thoroughly throughout. The musicians also offer powerful assistance without overpowering the vocals. While the album contains a mix of uptempo praisers and balladic works, the latter seem to be McFadden’s sweet spot. “There’s No ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 5, 2015

“I Need U” Criss Righteous Rank 1 Entertainment Mention the name Criss “Righteous” Johnson to those in the know, and they will tell you he is a skillful accompanist who has worked with gospel quartets for decades.  He even served as the longtime guitarist for Pastor Shirley Caesar. With “I Need U,” Criss Righteous breaks with tradition by stepping up to the mike as a solo artist. Well, not a total break with tradition—the song bleeds quartet soul, even if the beat is contemporary. Soloist or not, Criss growls that he needs Jesus, because “I can’t make it all by ...

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Boyz of Triumph – Praise His Name

Boyz of Triumph Praise His Name Sharp Records (2015) www.reverbnation.com/theboyzoftriumph By Bob Marovich The Boyz of Triumph from Sycamore, Alabama, is a seven-member gospel quartet that blends the close harmony tradition with the contemporary gospel style. The harmonies are front and center on Praise His Name, the quartet’s nine-track disc for Sharp Records. With its medium tempo and falsetto flights from the lead singer, the bouncy title track is as good an example as any of the group’s aural fingerprint. The harmonies are especially robust whenever the musicians pause and the group sings a cappella, which doesn’t happen nearly as ...

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Murk – P31

Murk P31 Dedicated Music Group (release date: March 31, 2015) www.murkp31.com By Bob Marovich Christian hip hop artist Murk is a P31 girl. On her sophomore EP, P31, Murk employs rhymes and beats to encourage other women to join her in the movement. “P31” is a reference to Psalms 31, which sets forth the importance of salvation and calls on the Lord to “keep me free from the trap that is set for me.” Among those traps, we learn from selections such as “So Beautiful” and “All I Ever Wanted,” are low self-esteem, self-doubt, abusive relationships, and poor choices. On “All I ...

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The Gospel Angels – Turn It Around

The Gospel Angels Turn It Around (2012) www.thegospelangels.com By Bob Marovich The Gospel Angels of Washington, DC, have traveled the country and the world for more than three decades, serving up heaping helpings of church wisdom with a savory traditional gospel quartet flavor. Some of the songs on the group’s current album, Turn It Around, are newly composed, but all have an old school vibe. The whole CD rolls along like a live performance without an audience. Opening with the hip-slapping “Let Me Lean on You,” the quartet blends bright tempo numbers with songs that stretch out for several minutes—just as the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 27, 2015

“Just Jesus” Bishop Jonathan Greer Released February 3, 2015 Now when is the last time you heard “Just Jesus” sung as a single? Thank God for Bishop Jonathan Greer II and his choir. They righteously reprise the good old Zion song, which Greer did originally with the Cathedral of Faith Choirs in 1994. The new version comes complete with shouting vamp and rocking chair 12/8 meter. Raised in Chicago, Bishop Jonathan Greer was called to ministry, first in Nashville, then Atlanta, where he is currently Presiding Bishop of Divine Love Fellowship Church. While at Cathedral of Faith, Greer and the Cathedral ...

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Casey J – The Truth

Casey J The Truth Marquis Boone Enterprises/Tyscot Records (released April 21, 2015) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich The next best thing to a live gospel music program is listening to a live gospel music program on a recording. That’s why it was smart for Casey J to release her debut album, The Truth, as a live worship experience.  And on home turf: the recording took place on January 30, 2015, at Fresh Start Church in Duluth, Georgia, where Casey is morning worship leader. Casey J. Hobbs, known as Casey J, is the newest rising star in gospel music. Her debut single, ...

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