Tag Archives: Mississippi

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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JGM Pick of the Week: November 14, 2017

“Sweet Beulah Land” Eddie Ruth Bradford (release date: September 25, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/eddieruthbradford3 By Bob Marovich The gospel songbird of Clarksdale, Mississippi, is at it again, this time with a mournful hymn about the eternal home. Backed by minimal instrumentation and the producer’s voice multi-tracked to simulate a male quartet (and a good one, too), “Sweet Beulah Land” finds Eddie Ruth Bradford singing longingly about that place “across the river” where there will be no more goodbyes or sadness. The lonely, weary melody and ERB’s bluesy vocals express the fatigue of the soul living in an unforgiving earth, but the lyrics look ...

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Crowns of Joy – Back to the Basics

Crowns of Joy Back to the Basics (private press – 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/thecrownsofjoy By Bob Marovich The Pheba, Mississippi-based Crowns of Joy’s Back to the Basics album promises “old school—new flavor.” It delivers on its promise, largely through its “Trumpology” medley of drive-tempo hits of the past. The Rhythm of Gospel Award-nominated Crowns of Joy was organized in 1980 by the late Reverend Tom Bill Avant, a veteran quartetter who was organizing singers back in the late 1950s when he presented a neighborhood group called the Five Gospel Wonders. Tommy and Victor Avant, Bud Townsend, and primary lead singer Wayne Wooten ...

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Mavis! the Documentary as Effervescent as Its Subject

Mavis! Produced and Directed by Jessica Edwards www.mavisfilm.com Airs Monday, February 29, 8:00 p.m. CT (HBO) By Bob Marovich – Journal of Gospel Music Mavis!, the first full-length film to chronicle the life and artistry of Mavis Staples and the Staple Singers, is one of the most entertaining, moving, and informative music documentaries I have seen in a while. Over the past year, this biopic has crisscrossed the country and the world, screening for film festivals and special gatherings, such as the one I attended last Monday at Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History. The film will finally make its ...

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