Reviews

“It’s Gonna Happen” – Jekalyn Carr

“It’s Gonna Happen” Jekalyn Carr Lunjeal Music Group/Malaco Music Group (available on iTunes August 12) www.myjekalyncarr.net “It’s Gonna Happen” is the latest single from the seventeen-year-old from the Mid-South who brought you “Greater is Coming” and “They Said, But God Said.” In a chirpy vibrato that evokes the pre-teen Tanya Tucker, Jekalyn delivers a ballad of faith that good things will happen because God said they will. It’s the wisdom not of the aged but of youthful optimism and a steadfast belief in the substance of things not seen. Jekalyn first came to national attention when she sang “Amazing Grace” in the ...

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Pick of the Week: August 5, 2014

“Forever Mine Lord” The New Gospel Saints From the NGS Records CD Forever Mine Lord (2012) www.newgospelsaints.com On “Forever Mine Lord,” the doo-woppy title track of their 2012 CD, the New Gospel Saints of Chicago demonstrate why they are called the “Temptations of Gospel Music” Possessing a silky smoothness reminiscent of ‘70s soul vocal groups, the New Gospel Saints took home Quartet of the Year at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards. Last month, they performed “Forever Mine Lord,” a love song to Jesus, at the Awards’ main event in Birmingham, Alabama. Their choreography, harmonies, and well-timed pauses elicited more than ...

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Mark Yandris – A Sound for God’s House

Mark Yandris A Sound for God’s House Released June 16, 2014 Available at Amazon, iTunes, etc. By Bob Marovich Mark Yandris is a brother from another mother. Like me, he has Slavic roots and family ties to the Calumet Region south of Chicago. Whereas our family remained in Da Region, Yandris’s family moved to the Bay Area.  He grew up in the Gospel Music Workshop of America and his father’s First Apostolic United Pentecostal Church.  While other fifteen-year-olds and I were trying desperately to learn a few chords on the guitar, Yandris had already formed his first gospel choir. His ...

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Bryan Andrew Wilson – The One Percent

Bryan Andrew Wilson The One Percent Bryan’s Songs Records / EchoPark JDI www.bryanwilson.com By Bob Marovich Rarely do we have a chance to hear child singers grow up on record. There are exceptions, most notably Michael Jackson, who got better with age, and Judy Garland, whose voice seemed to have matured prior to puberty. We first heard Bryan Andrew Wilson in 1994 as a pre-teen leading “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” with the Mississippi Children’s Choir.  His voice has matured steadily since then and it has come to full flower on “Show Me Your Glory/Set a Fire,” a CCM inspired ...

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James Fortune & Friends Offer One Energetic Performance After Another

“James Fortune & FIYA and Friends” Gospel Music Workshop of America Centennial Ballroom – Hyatt Regency Atlanta, GA Tuesday, July 29, 2014 By Bob Marovich Photo: Alexis Spight (center) with James Fortune (right) The Gospel Music Workshop of America.  Your mind conjures up images of delegations of robed choirs singing traditional songs with contemporary flair, gospel announcers learning best practices, quartets performing in the Quartet Quest competition, the GMWA Mass Choir, new songs to take back home, and classes on everything from keyboard basics to choral directing. But that doesn’t mean the nation’s top-selling gospel artists don’t make appearances.  They do, and ...

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“I Gotta Do Better” – Jon Plair

“I Gotta Do Better” Jon Plair www.jonplair.com With “I Gotta Do Better,” singer-songwriter, producer, musician, and COGIC PK Jonathan Plair admonishes those “slacking in their praise” to do better.  Do better, he exhorts, and you will change your life. The song is conventional in melody and arrangement, but Plair and his female background singers, who do most of the vocal heavy lifting, give “Better” an energetic reading.  And do I hear real honest-to-God brass in the background? Plair, who at age 25 founded Plair’s Music Institute of Performing Arts, also serves as vice president of Agape Jurisdictional Music Department under Bishop ...

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The Heart of Nancey Jackson Johnson

Nancey Jackson Johnson The Heart of Nancey Jackson Johnson Camdon Music 2014 www.CamdonMusic.com By Bob Marovich I have enjoyed listening to Nancey Jackson Johnson solo on several projects over the past few years, beginning with “Lead Me to the Rock,” from Rev. Stef & Jubilation’s 2006 The Launch Out Project.   Nancey’s powerfully expressive voice adds luster to just about any song. Naturally, therefore, I was quite eager to hear her debut solo CD, The Heart of Nancey Jackson Johnson, released on Donnie McClurkin’s Camdon Music imprint. The album, released last month, contains songs with worship lyrics set to contemporary gospel with ...

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Chanel – Trin-i-tee 5:7 According to Chanel

Chanel Trin-i-tee 5:7 According to Chanel Obsidian Records (release date: June 17, 2014) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Chanel’s solo debut, Trin-i-tee 5:7 According to Chanel, deserves the superlative “CD Most Likely to Be Released as Vinyl.”  The art design by Shamael Lataillade focuses on paisley-bracketed images of Chanel Haynes Schwartz and a record player so old it still bears the 16 speed.  The CD is deigned to look like a 45 rpm record, and indeed the songs, all with one word titles, are radio-sized and have the punchy drive of 1970s and 1980s soul hits.  So ...

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Andrea McClurkin-Mellini – Higher

Andrea McClurkin-Mellini Higher Camdon Music (June 17, 2014) www.camdonmusic.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Sister of gospel star Pastor Donnie McClurkin, singer-songwriter Andrea McClurkin-Mellini is no newcomer to gospel music.  She was a member of the McClurkin Singers and a charter member of the New York Restoration Mass Choir.  She penned the title track to the family’s 2007 Gospocentric album, We Praise You.  Still, Higher represents her first full-length solo album, and it is an accomplished debut.  “God Can,” written by Pastor Donnie, is the album’s radio-friendly single, a song of faith and encouragement with plenty of ...

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Mr. Del & Rod G. Newman – Geeks & Gangstas

Mr. Del & Rod G. Newman Geeks & Gangstas Holy South/Geek World Entertainment/DMG (released April 1, 2014) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Although Mr. Del’s Hope Dealer just hit the streets, not long ago the Grammy and Dove-nominated Christian rapper from Memphis joined forces with Rod G. Newman of Birmingham, Alabama, to create Geeks & Gangstas.  The album, available at online music stores but also via free download from Noisetrade (tips welcome), plays the two artists’ styles off one another.  Newman is a bowtie-wearing self-described “Jesus Geek” and Del is the gruff-voiced, street-savvy former gangsta rapper.  Despite ...

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