Reviews

Purpose of Ministry, Fate of Detroit Subjects of “Preachers of Detroit”

“Preachers of Detroit” Friday, February 20, 2015 8:00 p.m. ET/PT Oxygen By Bob Marovich Pastor David Bullock is my new hero. God’s gadfly, Bullock evokes the brusque, in-your-face, unfiltered honesty of Deitrick Haddon as he calls out the complacency of prosperity pastors who he feels are more interested in collecting wealth than serving the city’s neediest. An activist at heart, Bullock steals the show on the first episode of Oxygen’s new “Preachers of Detroit.” This unscripted drama follows the “Preachers of L.A.” formula of chronicling the comings and goings of church leaders who represent varying points of view and lifestyles. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 16, 2015

“Jesus is Real” The Volunteer State Mass Choir (radio release: February 24, 2015) www.facebook.com/TheVolunteerStateMassChoir The Volunteer State Mass Choir gets gospel bluesy and traditional on “Jesus is Real.” The organ warbles, the piano offers dramatic chording, drums emphasize the beat, and the choir participates in a call and response with the lead singers. The lyrics hearken back to old fashioned devotionals and personal testimonies of Jesus’s goodness and saving power. As its name indicates, the Volunteer State Mass Choir hails from Tennessee. Founded in April 2006 by Jeffery Wilford of Nashville, the choir has been nominated in three Rhythm of Gospel ...

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Liz Vice – There’s a Light

Liz Vice There’s A Light Deeper Well Records (2014) http://deeper-well.com/artists/liz-vice/ By Bob Marovich Liz Vice may not sound like your average gospel singer, but then again, she’s not your average gospel singer. On her CD, There’s a Light, the Portland, Oregon-based singer delivers personal inspirational messages to God and to the listener with the raw intensity of Mavis Staples and the soulful confidence of Norah Jones. The album’s ten songs are fresh and inviting, the lyrics poetic, the small band tight and suited to Vice’s voice like bacon to eggs, and the trimmed-down arrangements are like long lost tapes straight ...

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Yancy and Friends – Little Praise Party: Taste and See

Yancy and Friends Little Praise Party: Taste and See Elevate Entertainment (release date: February 10, 2015) www.yancynotnancy.com By Bob Marovich Yancy’s Taste and See is the fourth in the Christian singer-songwriter’s series of Little Praise Party CDs, a series that offers children fun and educational religious music that does not sound childish. The songs work well with Yancy’s key demographic because they employ sugary melodies and infectious rhythms.  They contain messages that are both easy to follow and to sing. Eschewing the Barney-esque electronic rhythms that assume children have undeveloped musical taste, Yancy and her friends get their points across by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 9, 2015

“Take Your Burdens” Juan Santiago & Uninhibited Praise www.jsuplive.com The group that in 2011 offered one of the most inspirational and uplifting arrangements of the spiritual “Were You There” I have ever heard is back with “Take Your Burdens.” The choir’s new single, led by Jeneal Johnson, is a straight-up traditional choir shouter with a rocking chair tempo and cascading parts evocative of Ricky Dillard, Keith Pringle, or the golden days of Gospel Music Workshop of America.  Righteous!

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DeWayne Woods – Life Lessons

DeWayne Woods Life Lessons Soul Therapy Music Group (release date: February 3, 2015) dewaynewoods.rocks By Bob Marovich Excellent songwriting, compelling melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and powerful singing combine to make Life Lessons DeWayne Woods’s best project to date. The album is fueled by a team of top-shelf songwriters, such as PJ Morton (son of Bishop Paul S. Morton), Donald Lawrence, Gerald and Tammi Haddon, and Estee Bullock, a founding member of Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir. Some of Woods’s most cogent life lessons on this, his first album in four years, can be found on “They Said…” and ...

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The New Christianaires – “Remember Me” – Live in Concert

The New Christianaires “Remember Me” – Live in Concert Carter Classic Records (2014) www.thenewchristianaires.com By Bob Marovich “Put your sanctified hands together,” shouts the announcer who welcomes the New Christianaires to the stage for their live recording, “Remember Me” – Live in Concert. The audience complies. In fact, the audience claps for, and along with, the quartet for much of the album’s 68-minute running time. In 2010, Minister George N. Carter Sr., a member of the original Christianaires of Sontag, Mississippi, which featured Paul and Tyrone Porter, reorganized the group in Florida by adding Apostle Jarmain Hawthorne, Elvis Brumfield Jr., Anthony Seay, and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 2, 2015

“He Steps In” Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Mass Choir From the CD Oh To Be Kept By Jesus (Anniversary Edition) If you like gospel choir singing like it was done in the 1980s, you will love the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Mass Choir’s new single, “He Steps In.” This Houston church, where Dr. Marcus Cosby is pastor and the late Hanq Neal was music minister, channels the super-charged, hand-clapping effervescence of classic late twentieth-century gospel choruses such as the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church Choir, the Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir, Christian Tabernacle Concert Choir, Keith Pringle’s ensembles, and a whole handful ...

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Katherine Burton – The Lord is On My Side

Katherine Burton The Lord is On My Side New Dawn Music (2014) www.KatherineBurton.com By Bob Marovich The violin has had a dalliance with gospel music throughout the genre’s history, although more so as of late, due to the cross-pollination of musical styles in the inspirational/gospel category. Brooke “Viosocalist” Alford and Kersten Stevens are two musicians who have recorded gospel jazz projects recently with violin as the main instrument. Katherine Burton is another. A graduate of Temple University College of Music and instrumentalist at a variety of gospel conventions, including the Gospel Workshop of America, Burton rosins up the bow to ...

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L. Spenser Smith – Unstoppable

L. Spenser Smith Unstoppable Smithworx/eOne (2014) www.lspensersmith.com By Bob Marovich Recorded live on September 21, 2012, to an aurally appreciative audience at Northview Christian Church in Montgomery, Alabama, Unstoppable is singer-songwriter Bishop L. Spenser Smith’s debut as a solo artist.  It’s a strong debut, too. Smith is among the new generation of gospel male crooners, a group that includes Earnest Pugh, Brian Courtney Wilson, Micah Stampley, Keith Williams, and Jonathan Nelson. His tenor is as flexible as a gymnast.  Given such vocal elasticity, it is no surprise that the ballads and hymns on Unstoppable best showcase Smith’s skills. His falsetto flights, ...

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