Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: September 8, 2014

“Mighty God” Valerie Woodard (2014) www.valeriewoodard.com Melding an ‘80s R&B musical background to a decidedly contemporary melody, much like the Clark Sisters who she cites as an inspiration, Valerie Rogers Woodard expresses her admiration for God with an infectious, shoulder-shaking rhythm. The wordless interjection in the chorus is guaranteed to get audiences singing and dancing along with her. The song is based on Psalm 150, so that is appropriate. The singer-songwriter lives in Wilson, North Carolina, and is currently preparing her sophomore project, Relationship II: Closer.

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B. Chase Williams & ShaBach – Live Again: Bigger, Better, Greater

B. Chase Williams & ShaBach Live Again: Bigger, Better, Greater Dream Gospel / Capitol Christian Distribution (2014) www.bchasewilliams.com By Bob Marovich Organized in Cincinnati more than 20 years ago by singer/songwriter/musician B. Chase Williams, ShaBach is a full-throated choir that performs with zest. They follow their 2010 R3 –Redeemed! Reconciled! Released! with another rhythmically-titled album—Live Again: Bigger, Better, Greater. As with many albums by male-led small choir, the lead vocalists on Live Again add the sparkle that distinguishes this project from others. Several singers shine on Live Again, notably Terrence Cotton on the smooth jazzy and Whitfield-esque “My Everything;” Melodi ...

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Kebra – Under the Influence

Kebra Under the Influence Mokeb Entertainment (2014) www.kebramoore.com By Bob Marovich It is no understatement when, on her new EP Under the Influence, singer-songwriter Kebra Moore sings “I have a testimony.” On Christmas Eve 1999, Kebra, her fiancé, and fourteen-month-old son were heading home to Arkansas from New Orleans, where they were making final wedding preparations, when they were involved in an auto accident. While the fiancé and son escaped without injury, Kebra was left a paraplegic. Turning tragedy into possibility, Kebra became a spokesperson for the disabled. She was named Miss Wheelchair Mississippi 2013 and earlier this year launched ...

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TBGB Pick of the Week: September 1, 2014

“Deep Down” Kendra Smith From the DeVine Records Management CD Something New (2014) www.kendrasmith.org Independent artists fuel the future of gospel music. Without their hunger and desire to be heard, the genre would be in perpetual danger of stagnating. Proof positive: seventeen-year-old Kendra Smith of Florence, South Carolina. The 2012 South Carolina Music Awards Gospel Artist of the Year and Rhythm of Gospel Award nominee, indie artist Smith is a young woman with a commanding voice and confident presence. Her new single, “Deep Down,” has an old soul but a modern beat.  Smith has the love of Jesus “way down, deep down ...

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The Soul of Designer Records

Various Artists The Soul of Designer Records Big Legal Mess (2014) www.biglegalmessrecords.com By Bob Marovich In the days before YouTube and other social media outlets, before mp3s and CDs and music maker software for home computers, gospel artists looking for greater promotion but without a major label deal sought out the expertise of bootstrap entrepreneurs such as Idessa Malone and Style Wooten. While Malone recorded church choirs and radio preachers, Wooten recorded hundreds of black and white gospel artists for his Designer imprint. Wooten’s pitch was simple: for a flat rate, artists could make a studio recording and have copies of ...

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“Everything Must Change” – Dottie Peoples

“Everything Must Change” Dottie Peoples DP Musik Group (2014) www.dottiepeoples.com “Everything Must Change” is Dottie Peoples like you are not used to hearing her. Dottie doffs the traditional pulse for which she is so well known and goes Nina Simone on this slow inspirational ballad about that which is inevitable. Indeed, Simone recorded the song in the 1970s, although the original was waxed by Quincy Jones, featuring the song’s composer, Benard Ighner, on vocals. Dottie does a fine job with this contemplative song.  She transitions from jazzy chanteuse to fiery evangelist when, later in the performance, she uses the lyric, ...

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“More of You” – Canton Jones feat. Darlene McCoy

“More of You” Canton Jones feat. Darlene McCoy From the CD God City USA (2014) Cajo Records By Libra Boyd, Guest Reviewer Gospel Music Fever In one of several collaborations from his newest release, God City USA, singer/writer/producer Canton Jones teams up with songstress and radio personality Darlene McCoy for a moderately-paced Christian hip-hop performance of “More of You.” McCoy kicks off the track’s opening verse with a melodic declaration of adoration and submission before sharing the mic with Jones for a harmonic duet of the chorus: “Just give me all of You and none of me, Lord / Let Your kingdom ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 25, 2014

“A Lil’ Louder (Clap Your Hands)” Rance Allen Group Tyscot Records (2014) www.tyscot.com A gospel trio that was blurring the barriers between the music of Saturday night and Sunday morning in the late 1960s, the Rance Allen Group returns to the funky style that brought them national attention with “A Lil’ Louder (Clap Your Hands).” From the thudding bass line to Rance’s trademark shouts of spiritual ecstasy and sanctified scatting, the song encourages every listener to get on up and worship. Dance, clap your hands, stomp your feet, raise your voice, and scream, sing the group, all to punctuation from the ...

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Sherry Songbird – Made For You

Sherry Songbird Made for You Family First Productions (2014) www.sherrysongbird.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Sherry Songbird’s sophomore release is an EP called Made For You. The six selections are sunny vertical praise songs written by Songbird, and the understated instrumentation, led by acoustic piano and guitar, spotlights her light but passionate soprano. Set to a robust string section, the title track expresses the joy of accepting Christ. Although the rests in the music pause too long for comfort, and the tempo could be quicker, Songbird delivers the lyrics with appropriate drama and stave-jumping notes that earned her stage name. While ...

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Joe Douglass & Spirit of Praise – Redemption

Joe Douglass & Spirit of Praise Redemption Daveshand Productions (2014) www.joedouglassministries.com By Bob Marovich Joe Douglass & Spirit of Praise pulls out all the stops on Redemption. Douglass, a twenty-five-year-old Californian, organized Spirit of Praise a few years ago. The group released a single, “It Belongs to You,” in April 2012 and subsequently recorded Redemption, their debut live CD. It was released in June 2014. A lineup of gospel stars populates the album, although they were not necessary, as SOP is a strong vocal organization in its own right. A better than average “&” group in a galaxy of “&” ...

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