Tag Archives: Mississippi

RIP: Pastor Steve Hawkins

By Robert M. Marovich A. Jeffrey LaValley informed JGM of the passing of his friend, gospel singer and pastor Steve Hawkins. Born in Waco, Texas, on Valentine’s Day, 1953 (“That’s why I’m such a sweetheart!” he chuckled during our 2014 interview), Hawkins was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where his father was pastor of the Jerusalem Church of God in Christ. As a youngster, Hawkins learned the finer points of singing from his mother. His uncle and aunt, Dorothy and Lawrence Abrams, took him on the road to open for the Original Five Blind Boys, in which Lawrence was a member ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 2, 2020

“Hallelujah Anyhow” Canton Spirituals feat. Al Green Malaco Music Group www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Highway 51 links Canton, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee. So does the single “Hallelujah Anyhow,” as it links the Canton Spirituals and the Reverend Al Green. The combo works. Keep in mind that Green came from gospel and, after entering the ministry, went back to gospel, earning GRAMMY Awards for his gospel albums. A conventional quartet song written by the Canton Spirituals’ Harvey Watkins Jr. and producer Stan Jones, “Hallelujah Anyhow” finds Watkins and Green, elder statesmen of church and church music, sharing nonspecific testimonies about illness ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 3, 2020

“God’s Power” Minister John Taylor Jr. John Jr. Gospel Productions, Inc. By Bob Marovich Minister John Taylor Jr. recorded this song in 2016, but it sounds as if it was recorded 50 years earlier. “God’s Power” is a reassurance to all those who are sick, especially Taylor’s mother, whose illness inspired Taylor to write the song. The sweet country melody comes from the southern gospel tradition, but Taylor’s expressive vocals and the background singers have gospel quartet stamped all over them. Born in Peoria, Illinois, adopted through Catholic Charities, and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Taylor is the founder of John ...

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Gulf Coast Gospel Music Awards Slated for September 28

From a press release: Gospel music–a term that is sure to remind the listener of how one can come from tests to testimonies, from tragedies to tranquility, and from trials to triumph. Imagine an event that encompasses story telling, laughter, tears, music, and more. The Gulf Coast Gospel Music Awards, birthed by gospel recording artist and praise and worship leader LeKeisha Cotten, will leave the event goer fulfilled. This year, the event has more than 330 nominees from fifteen states. Many of those nominees have stories of going from pain to peace. For example, Deneice Glasker of Graniteville, SC, a ...

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Tim Rogers “Fella-rized” James Cleveland for New Single

By Bob Marovich The collaboration between Stellar Award-winning Arkansas gospel quartet Tim Rogers and the Fellas and the Grammy-nominated R&B sensation Calvin Richardson that resulted in the Fellas’ latest single, “Hold Out,” began in the unlikeliest of places: an airport. Rogers and Richardson ran into one another while moving through the Memphis International Airport. Rogers told the Journal of Gospel Music that although the two men had never met face-to-face, “his family knew me and of course I knew him. We vowed to do something together, and we made sure we kept our word.” The result of their collaboration, “Hold Out” ...

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Doug Williams Retires as President of Blackberry Records

Jackson, MS (March 15, 2019): After twenty-eight years of heading the label, Doug Williams is officially retiring from his role as President and CEO of Blackberry Records as of April 1, 2019. Williams was instrumental in signing such artists as Bishop Paul S. Morton, the Canton Spirituals, the Williams Brothers and many others. Williams says: “We’ve had an incredible 28 years and made some history along the way. However, God is leading me in other directions at this time in my life.” Doug Williams will continue his involvement in the music industry, sharing that “music is my first love, therefore, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 3, 2018

“Working for My Good” Brandon Mitchell & S.W.A.P. feat. Lisa Knowles-Smith From the BAMSWAP Music album Amazing By Bob Marovich Once again, an AyRon Lewis production makes our list: “Working For My Good,” by Brandon Mitchell & S.W.A.P. (Singers With A Purpose). This selection, rendered in the 12/8 “rocking chair” time signature, belongs as much to the effervescent Lisa Knowles-Smith as to the Mitchell group. Like Dorinda Clark-Cole, Lisa turns the temperature up anytime she is a featured vocalist. She doesn’t just recommend faith in God as the ultimate balm, she demands it. When Mitchell shouts, “Let’s take it to Mississippi,” ...

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“Silent Night” – Eddie Ruth Bradford

“Silent Night” Eddie Ruth Bradford Eddie Ruth Bradford Music (2018) By Bob Marovich Eddie Ruth Bradford could sing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and it would sound carved out of the Mississippi hills. So it’s no surprise that the Clarksdale, Mississippi, native turns the Christmas classic “Silent Night” into a slice of southern soul as sticky as peach cobbler and just as tasty. She’s assisted by a vocal harmony group and a band with an organ that peeks out of the rhythm section to toss warbled notes like pixie dust. Another win for the “Delta Breeze.”

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 5, 2018

“Waiting on Jesus” True Believers 4 Winds Records (release date: October 23, 2018) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich On “Waiting on Jesus,” Castro Coleman and the True Believers exude gobs of enthusiasm about the coming of the Lord. Using the tried-and-true call-and-response format, the group sings about fasting and praying until the great day comes. The song moves with that slow-strutting tempo and the crashing drum backbeat characteristic of deep southern soul gospel quartet singing. The lyrics and music are ready-made for extroverted physical movement by audience and quartet alike. Coleman is no stranger to gospel music. He traces his roots back ...

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The Golden Bells – Thank You

The Golden Bells Thank You www.TheGoldenBells.com By Bob Marovich Much of Thank You, the latest full-length CD release by the Golden Bells of Lexington, Mississippi, is a refashioning of traditional gospel staples into the modern quartet style. Even when the songs are newly-composed and the music meets today’s gospel quartet standards, they retain the old church character in their lyric content. For example, on “Say Something Good,” the Golden Bells prefer to turn the other cheek to their haters, but by reviving some of grandma’s well-worn words of wisdom (“What goes around comes back again”), the group confirms the wisdom ...

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