Contemporary Gospel

“He Kept Me” – Lamont Sanders

“He Kept Me”Lamont SandersFrom the Bear Tag / DarkChild Gospel EP He’s a Keeper(release date: February 20, 2020)www.lamontsanders.com By Robert M. Marovich On “He Kept Me,” Lamont Sanders expresses his gratitude to God who never left him despite his doubts, mistakes, and lack of focus on the Word. Sanders sings with a confidence and muscularity equaled only by the insistent thumping of a drum that opens the song and ultimately folds itself within the rhythm section. At the end of last month, “He Kept Me” received love from Billboard, where it hit the number one spot on the mag’s Gospel ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 10, 2022

“Fall On Me” A. Samar Biggham A. Samar Biggham Music Group (2021) www.samarbiggham.com By Robert M. Marovich In case you are wondering, A. Samar Biggham indeed is from that Biggham family. His grandfather is the Rev. Dr. Milton Biggham, veteran choir leader and former executive of Savoy Records. His great-grandmother was a member of the Sykes Gospel Singers of Thomasville, Georgia. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, the saying goes. Anthony Samar (A. Samar) has been in the gospel music ministry for about a decade but has been preaching since age 10. Among his accomplishments was appearing in ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 3, 2022

“A Million Dreams” Laila Adele & One Nation feat. Jonas Engstrom Independent (release date: June 17, 2021) www.onenation.se By Robert M. Marovich For decades, songs from the Broadway stage have been anointed with sacred oil through covers by gospel artists. Among these are “Sunrise Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof (Mahalia Jackson), “Without a Song” from Great Day (James Cleveland and the Cleveland Singers), and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel (Five Blind Boys of Alabama). In the hands of Laila Adele and Jonas Engstrom’s One Nation gospel choir from Sweden, “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman becomes an ...

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“Jehovah Jireh” – Zak Williams & 1/Akord

“Jehovah Jireh” Zak Williams & 1/Akord Enon Music Group (release date: September 17, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich “Jehovah Jireh” celebrates God and old-school (’80s) gospel, Philly style. Representing the City of Brotherly Love, Zak Williams & 1/Akord offer a praise song with an agile arrangement noted for full-throated staccato choral singing, evangelistic exhortations from Williams, a flowing melody, and a hard-hitting rhythm section. Williams namechecks GMWA Mass Choir and Wilmington Chester Mass Choir alumnus Kevin Pringle, not only for added Philly cred but because the recording is a cover of Pringle’s composition. I first learned of Zak Williams & ...

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JGM Pick of the Week – December 27, 2021

“Covered” Anisa Fowler RNU Records (release date: November 12, 2021) www.anisafowler.com By Robert M. Marovich “Covered” identifies Long Island’s Anisa Fowler as an emerging gospel singer-songwriter of note. The melodic ballad, which Fowler co-wrote with Joshua Arnoux, reckons with the anxiety of the times by reminding listeners that no matter how close they are to giving up, Jesus is the remedy. The lyrics follow Kenneth Morris’ formula of presenting a problem in the first half of the verse and offering a solution in the second half (I call it the Kenneth Morris “But”). The shift from problem to solution is ...

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“I’m Gonna Say Thank You Lord”

“I’m Gonna Say Thank You Lord” Ricky Paul From the independent CD Just a Country Boy (release date: March 26, 2020) https://www.heavensound.com/artists/rickypaul.htm By Robert M. Marovich Gospel quartet music and country music are not as dissimilar as one might think. Artists from each genre heard one another on the radio and copied the best of what they heard. Their southern roots and branches go back decades. Still, African American gospel soloists who consider their style “country” are few and far between. The last one JGM encountered was Alice McAfee Williams (Al Mac Will). Her 2009 introduction at the Gospel Music ...

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“There is a Time” – Garrick V. Morgan & Valerie V. Gay

“There is a Time” Garrick V. Morgan & Valerie V. Gay Cloud Records (release date: December 20, 2021) www.cloudrecordsllc.com By Robert M. Marovich Garrick V. Morgan and Valerie V. Gay blend their polished and passionate voices on “There is a Time,” which transforms Ecclesiastes 3 (“For everything there is a season”) into a poignant Broadway-style show stopper. To a backdrop of lush strings and a hefty rhythm section, Morgan and Gay remind listeners that God “will make everything beautiful in its time.” It’s what they call in show biz a big number. More importantly, it’s a reminder that this, the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week December 6, 2021

“I’ll Say Yes” Ritchea Hodge Independent (release date: May 17, 2021) https://www.teammade.ca/ritchea-hodge By Robert M. Marovich It’s always a treat to hear fresh new voices in any genre, and Ritchea Hodge is one of them in gospel music. Born and raised in Brampton, Ontario, and a member of the Toronto worship collective MADE Music Group, Hodge delivers her debut, “I’ll Say Yes,” as a powerful declaration of discipleship. She reminds me of a younger Jekalyn Carr, especially when she interjects growls in her vocal runs during the vamp. The song has a drive that says more than “yes” to God’s ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 29, 2021

“I Believe” Fred Jerkins feat. Bishop Paul S. Morton From the DarkChild Gospel album A Project of Healing By Robert M. Marovich Not the 1953 inspirational pop song nor the James Fortune composition, this “I Believe” was written by Fred Jerkins and is the fifth radio single from A Project of Healing, his 2018 various artists concept album. It is a confident anticipation of victory over life’s troubles—in the album’s specific case, the trouble is cancer. The muscular vocal timbre of Jerkins and Bishop Paul S. Morton sets a dramatic tone for what amounts to a litany of affirmations ending ...

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Gene Hoskins – Homecoming (Deluxe Edition)

Download Gene HoskinsHomecoming (Deluxe Edition)Shanachie Entertainment (release date: October 29, 2021)www.shanachie.com By Robert M. Marovich Gene Hoskins, a mental health therapist and gospel singer from North Carolina, combines his passions to provide insight and encouragement on Homecoming (Deluxe Edition). Eliding seamlessly, the first two selections, “Prodigal P.O.V.” and the title track, are the physician healing himself. Hoskins meanders on an introspective electronic R&B path, a sort-of gospel recitative on his journey back to spiritual clarity. The album truly comes alive, however, with “Make It With Jesus,” an explosively churchy piece. The single, which hit #14 on Billboard’s Gospel Singles chart, ...

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