Tag Archives: north carolina

Jerrell Golden: J Rocks the Mic…for Jesus

By Bob Marovich Anyone who witnessed Tappahannock, Virginia, rapper J Rock during freestyle battles heard a young, hungry, and confident artist who didn’t just want to emulate Jay-Z: he wanted to be better than Jay-Z. But behind the scenes, the story looked different. “I was hooked on drugs and did a lot of bad stuff,” Christian hip hop artist Jerrell Golden told the Journal of Gospel Music. “Me and my mom, we weren’t seeing eye to eye, so she kicked me out,” he said. “And honestly, I deserved it. I went through a spell of being homeless, going from friend ...

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Phil Cook – People Are My Drug

Phil Cook People Are My Drug Psychic Hotline / Thirty Tigers (release date: June 1, 2018) www.philcookmusic.com By Bob Marovich Rootsy gospel vibes abound on Phil Cook’s second solo album, People Are My Drug. A native of from Wisconsin now living in Durham, North Carolina, Cook counts among his inspirations such classic gospel artists as the Staple Singers, the Sensational Nightingales, Margaret Allison, Shirley Caesar, and Brother Joe May. It’s evident, too, in the album’s sound, its lyrics, and even in the quartet-like vamp on two tracks (“Steampowered Blues” and “Every Mother’s Son”). “Tide of Life,” which Cook and his ensemble cover, was written by ...

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Genesis of a Gospel Song: “You Deserve It”

By Bob Marovich This year’s Stellar Awards Song of the Year went to “You Deserve It.” Written by David Bloom and co-authored by Bishop Cortez Vaughn, Demond Reed, and JJ Hairston, the song also received a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Performance/Song. Bloom explained to the Journal of Gospel Music how the song was birthed. *      *      * I was first exposed to gospel music as a child. My parents were pastors, so as soon as I was born and we left the hospital, we went straight to church! My mom was a musician and a praise and worship singer. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 19, 2018

“Prayer Room” Jarell Smalls & Co. From the CD A New Season Southern Wave Music Group / Get Ready Music Group (release date: May 19, 2017) http://jarellsmalls.com/ By Bob Marovich By evoking Grandma at the outset, Jarell Smalls gives the appropriate old-school pedigree to “Prayer Room.” Then, to a rockabilly-guitar-meets-Pentecostal-beat, he and his group jump into the congregational classic, “Come in the Prayer Room.” The Charleston, South Carolina-born Smalls scats, vamps, chants, and shouts like a quartet singer. With about two minutes remaining on the recording, the Company moves from the back to the front. The singers shift the melody, but ...

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Various Artists: Make It Gospel – Chapter One

Various Artists Make It Gospel: Chapter One (release date: October 18, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/makeitgospelchapterone By Bob Marovich Make It Gospel: Chapter One is an independently-produced EP that showcases three “hidden jewel” gospel quartets: one male (Men of Fellowship), one female (New Stars of Faith), and one young group (Psalm 100). All three quartets are quite good, demonstrating that for every gospel superstar, there are thousands of gifted artists throughout the country, trying to be noticed. The meaty vocals and even harmonizing of Men of Fellowship make for enjoyable listening, while the edgy-voiced lead singer of the New Stars of Faith of Durham, North Carolina, sounds ...

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RIP: Dr. James C. McLean of the Bethlehem Gospel Singers

Angelo Breeden and Archie Swindell Jr. informed JGM that Dr. James C. McLean, a founding member of the Bethlehem Gospel Singers, passed away in a Charlotte, North Carolina, hospital yesterday evening, February 5, 2018. Hailing from Laurinburg, North Carolina, the Bethlehem Gospel Singers were organized in the late 1950s by Dr. McLean and Archie Swindell Sr. The group enjoyed recording success on Hoyt Sullivan’s HSE label starting in 1969, making noise in 1972 with their two-part “My Bible is Right.” Listen to the track below and please keep Dr. McLean’s family, friends, and fans in prayer.

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Norris Garner – Don’t Stop the Praise

Norris Garner Don’t Stop the Praise Norris Garner Music (2015) By Bob Marovich A North Carolinan by birth but a resident of California’s Bay Area, Norris Garner is a choir man. He has written, sung with, accompanied, directed, and taught choirs at the Gospel Music Workshop of America, the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, and in Europe. So while Garner’s 2015 Don’t Stop the Praise is billed as a solo album, it features a talented background vocal ensemble that supports Garner and his guest soloists with plenty of polish. The ensemble consists of Tony and Toni McFarland with Blessed Union from ...

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Ruth La’Ontra – I Got You

Ruth La’Ontra I Got You ALJR Music Group/Tyscot Records (release date: September 22, 2017) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich To the best of my recollection, the last time a Ruth Jones was in gospel music, she was a teenager singing with Sallie Martin. Finding it difficult to keep boy-crazy Ruth in check, Sallie returned her to her mother. Ruth later resurfaced as a solo artist, better known as the Queen of the Blues Dinah Washington. The new Ruth Jones goes by Ruth La’Ontra. On I Got You, the live follow-up to her debut release, So Good, Ruth showcases an instantly appealing gospel voice that ...

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Mighty Gospel Inspirations – In Black and White

The Mighty Gospel Inspirations In Black and White Independent Release (2009) http://theboguesound.com/mgi.html By Bob Marovich A cappella quartet singing may not be nearly as widespread in today’s gospel music market as it once was, but it hasn’t gone away completely. For nearly half a century, the Mighty Gospel Inspirations of Durham, North Carolina, have kept the tradition alive. The biracial group’s 2009 release, In Black and White, is a sampling of their harmonistic approach. Representing the quartet on the album are brothers Mike and Ken Sanders, Larry Perry, James Bailey, and Robert Waldrop. In Black and White sounds like someone turned ...

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