Tag Archives: chicago

Leland Philpot – Psalms in the Midst (EP)

Leland Philpot Psalms in the Midst (EP) BabelScattered Productions (release date: October 5, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Chicago avant-garde gospel hip-hop artist Leland Philpot draws on hip-hop, jazz, gospel, and techno wizardry for his EP Psalms in the Midst. Billed as Philpot’s testimony set to music, the EP opens with the title track, a mini-sermon that serves as a general introduction. An aggressive rapper but a disinterested singer, Philpot rhymes rapid fire, near to breathlessly, on “The Gift,” as the beats beep and burble behind him like arcade games. Minimalist beats and gushes of quick rhyming also propel “Break ...

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“Thank You Lord” – Pastor Mack Mason

“Thank You Lord” Pastor Mack Mason Independent (release date: October 17, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Fronting a team of smooth female vocalists, Pastor Mack Mason doesn’t hold back as he testifies with gushes of gratitude on “Thank You Lord.” The robust-voiced Mason sings at the upper edge of his baritone range, revving up in the song’s vamp, which apexes in the song’s finest moment—an ad libbed shout of joy and relief: “You’re the best friend that I’ve ever had – whoooo!” A veteran radio announcer, author, and publisher, Pastor Mason now helms his grandfather’s church, Greater Prayer Garden Church ...

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Chicagoan Lonnie Norwood Jr. Teaches “The Gospel Essentials” to Youth Nationwide

By Bob Marovich Earlier this year, the Chicago Children’s Choir was busy coordinating some 5,000 youth meeting in various in-school and after-school ensembles throughout the region. The sound of song was in the air everywhere. Then COVID-19 happened. Choirs became potential virus spreaders. Everything moved to virtual learning. CCC launched the online Arts Enrichment Sessions to keep its youth engaged during the pandemic and to impact young people ages 8 to 18 nationwide. “The Gospel Essentials” is among fourteen different arts enrichment courses from which students can choose. Taught by Chicago musician and educator Lonnie Norwood Jr., “The Gospel Essentials” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 7, 2020

“Alright” Bishop Larry Trotter & Sweet Holy Spirit Choir From the forthcoming album Restored By Bob Marovich Bishop Larry Trotter and the choir of his Sweet Holy Spirit Church on Chicago’s Southeast side offer encouragement in the full-throated, hand-clapping, church-wrecking style emblematic of the Windy City gospel choir sound. In a sandpaper-rough baritone, Trotter sings about “heartaches and pains,” as the choir answers him with a reassuring “alright, it’s gonna be alright.” But it’s the fiery vocalist Betty Lott who sells the song. She works the audience and duets with Trotter as, with the choir, they interpolate a bit of ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 31, 2020

“Happy in Jesus” Exciting Holy Sons From the album Finally Live in Chicago Independent (release date: August 7, 2020) By Bob Marovich If you are a fan of Chicago’s Victory Travelers, you’ll enjoy Chicago’s Exciting Holy Sons. Both groups offer up meaty traditional gospel quartet fare, complete with pulpit-honed messages, squalling lead singers, and the kind of music that lifts congregants to their feet. Even their name hearkens back to when quartets prefaced their names with superlatives, the verbal equivalent of bubble lights on a Wurlitzer jukebox. Sounding very much like the Exciting Holy Sons’ exit song at a gospel ...

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All Nations Music – Come Alive (EP)

All Nations Music Come Alive EP RCA Inspiration (release date: July 3, 2020) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Dr. Matthew L. Stevenson III needn’t worry about his sacred music bona fides. Stevenson’s great-grandfather was the Reverend Elijah Thurston, founder of Chicago’s historic 44th Street Baptist Church, which produced many pioneering gospel singers and musicians. Thurston was also one of Mahalia Jackson’s favorite preachers. Stevenson’s great-grandmother, commanding gospel vocalist Ora Lee Hopkins, was a member of the Willie Webb Singers, the original Caravans, and director of the city’s New Nazareth Missionary Baptist Church choir. While acknowledging and respecting his family’s roots in ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 20, 2020

“Waiting On You” Dominique Johnson feat. Ernest J. Lee David’s Dance Music (release date: June 16, 2020) By Bob Marovich Chicago’s Dominique Johnson is a singer, songwriter, and musician whose online videos have garnered more than four million views. Dominique’s debut single, “Waiting On You,” is her affirmation that brokenness is over—“so many bad decisions that people thought I was blind”—and that she is no longer moving on her own time but in God’s time. She takes her cue from Isaiah 40:31: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 15, 2020

“Be Alright”Dexter Walker & Zion MovementIntersound (release date: May 29, 2020) By Bob Marovich It’s hard to believe, but on “Be Alright,” the award-winning Chicago gospel choir Dexter Walker & Zion Movement moved the needle on its effervescence-o-meter, already at fever pitch, further to the right. The song’s message is appropriate for all times, but especially for this time: keep the faith, trust in God, and everything will be all right. Lead vocalist Jazmine Jones shouts, squalls, and otherwise wrecks the church on this frenetic and relentless musical cousin of a praise break. The choir responds with full-throated section work ...

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“Heal Our Land” – Kassandra McGhee

“Heal Our Land” Kassandra McGhee (release date: April 2020) http://www.kassandramcghee.com By Bob Marovich On her new single, “Heal Our Land,” Chicagoland-based singer-songwriter Kassandra McGhee takes for her text 2 Chronicles 7:14. Without mentioning the pandemic once, you know instinctively that this gentle, acoustic ballad is a prayer for global healing during COVID-19. In many ways, it doubles as a mantra for such a time as this. Despite being written and recorded during the pandemic, with all of the stay-at-home measures to accommodate, this is McGhee’s best song to date. John King at Manifested Works gave the song its final touches. ...

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RIP: Bobby McDougle, former member of the Pilgrim Jubilees

Bobby McDougle, the guitarist for gospel quartets such as the Pilgrim Jubilees, passed away on March 26, 2020. Known as “Thumper,” McDougle was born on April 26, 1944, in Valdosta, Georgia. His influence in music came from his father, Mr. Ananias McDougle, also a musician. Following in his father’s footsteps, McDougle began playing guitar for his sister’s group as well as for other groups and churches in the area. At age fourteen, and with the permission of his mother, McDougle joined Tommy Ellison and the Five Singing Stars. He remained with the group for two years. At the age of ...

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