5 Stars

Brian Courtney Wilson – Transitions

Brian Courtney Wilson Transitions Motown Gospel (release date: October 22, 2022) www.motowngospel.com By Robert M. Marovich On Transitions, gospel singer-songwriter Brian Courtney Wilson wraps his honeyed baritone around mostly new selections in an atmosphere set up to simulate a live impromptu jam session. Whether intentional or not, much of Transitions feels like a musical kin of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 What’s Going On, but with the aid of modern production techniques. Not only does Wilson’s vocal delivery evoke Gaye’s earnest crooning, but the loping rhythm of “All I Can Say” and the bongo-like percussion at the opening of “Monday’s Pain” and ...

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Soweto Gospel Choir – Hope

Soweto Gospel Choir Hope Shanachie Entertainment (release date: September 23, 2022) www.shanachie.com By Robert M. Marovich Those who haven’t been swept away by the passion and the power of South African choral harmonies are missing something special. The opportunity is available on Hope, the latest release by the award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir. The troupe celebrates twenty years with this collection of songs sung in South African languages such as Sotho, Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, and Tswana. For Western audiences, there is more familiar English language fare. Given the shared experiences of discrimination and violence by African Americans and South African Blacks, ...

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The Caravans – Where Gospel Meets Soul

The Caravans Where Gospel Meets Soul: 1952-1962 Acrobat Music (release date: September 9, 2022) www.acrobatmusic.net By Robert M. Marovich Despite their massive popularity over three decades, the Caravans have lacked a proper CD retrospective. Selections have been reissued here and there, and Savoy put out a two-album set featuring most of their hits, but there has been nothing approaching a serious survey of their musical canon. That’s why it was a delight to learn about Acrobat’s Where Gospel Meets Soul, a two-disc, 49-track exploration of one of gospel’s greatest groups. The Acrobat collection provides nearly all the singles, both the ...

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Ross & Eli – Signs & Seasons

Ross & Eli Signs & Seasons Independent (released July 15, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Signs & Seasons is the prodigious product of musicians Ross Martinie Eiler and Eli Schille-Hudson and a band of equally gifted singers and musicians from Bloomington, Indiana. A group with a Catholic connection, they create multidenominational music seasoned with folk, soul, soft rock, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, and R&B. I had the fortune of reviewing the 49-minute album as a two-disc vinyl set, which—as quality vinyl does—bestows a special warmth to the proceedings. The collection opens and closes with delicate and liturgical flourishes from guitar ...

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Angie & Friends Live at Daywind Studios: I Feel Like Singing

Angie Primm Angie & Friends Live at Daywind Studios: I Feel Like Singing New Day Entertainment (release date: August 26, 2022) www.angelaprimm.com By Robert M. Marovich Certain records capture the unconstrained joy of traditional gospel and hymn singing better than others. One that captures it precisely is singer Angie Primm’s Live at Daywind Studios: I Feel Like Singing. Gathered in the famous Hendersonville, Tennessee, Daywind Studios, the Angie & Friends troupe establish the theme of the album from the start, on the lead (and title) track. They namecheck gospel songs and spirituals in an informal group sing reminiscent of the ...

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Hood Memorial AME Zion Church Celebration Choir – I’m In His Plans

Hood Memorial AME Zion Church Celebration Choir I‘m In His Plans Bison Disc (release date: February 23, 2021) https://hoodmemorialamez.com/ By Robert M. Marovich Time was, you would have looked long and hard in the AME Zion church writ large and found neither gospel music nor gospel singers anywhere within the four walls. Hymns, yes. Anthems, yes. Spirituals, check. Gospel songs, not so much. Then you hear “It’s About Time to Praise Him” by the joyously full-throated Celebration Choir from the Hood Memorial AME Zion Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and you realize those days are passed and gone. Complete with ...

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William Murphy – Worship & Justice

William Murphy Worship & Justice RCA Inspiration (release date: July 15, 2022) www.rcainspiration.com By Robert M. Marovich Do gospel artists have a responsibility to speak truth to power through their songs? Isn’t all gospel music message music, or should it be more explicit when it comes to the social gospel? Answers vary from artist to artist. For his part, Bishop William Murphy embraces the responsibility of social leadership through music ministry on Worship & Justice, his seventh album and first since 2019’s GRAMMYⓇ-nominated Settle Here. Recorded live in December 2021, at dReam Center Church in Atlanta, the album finds Murphy ...

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Maverick City x Kirk Franklin – Kingdom Book One

Maverick City x Kirk Franklin Kingdom Book One Tribl Records / Fo Yo Soul / RCA Inspiration (release date: June 17, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Maverick City Music, gospel’s current “it” group, joined with the venerable Kirk Franklin, no stranger to special event gospel projects, to bring music and ministry to 1,300 Florida inmates. Kingdom Book One is the result. Recorded at the Everglades Correctional Institution in Miami, the album showcases MCM / Chandler Moore compositions and Franklin classics, a weary-sounding Franklin punctuating the communal singing and worship with exhortations, preaching moments, and Biblical lessons. Talented vocalists like Naomi ...

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Gospel, Vol. 6: Female Gospel Groups 1940 – 1962

Various Artists Gospel, Vol. 6: Female Gospel Groups 1940-1962 Fremeaux & Associes (2022) http://www.fremeaux.com By Robert M. Marovich If it weren’t for women, there might not be gospel music as we know it today. A gutsy statement, but accurate. For every Thomas Dorsey, Theodore Frye, and James Cleveland, there were dozens of women who, denied access to the pulpit through denominational fiat, made sacred music their evangelistic outlet. Two of gospel’s first superstars, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mahalia Jackson, were women. The history books brim with the names of female pioneers in gospel music, among them Sallie Martin, Roberta Martin ...

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Various Artists – Malaco 50th Celebration

Various Artists Malaco 50th Celebration Malaco Music Group (release date: February 25, 2022) www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich The nearly two-hour Malaco 50th Celebration two CD set (and companion DVD) is one of the best releases thus far this year. Recorded live on July 12, 2018, at the record company’s golden anniversary gala at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, Mississippi, the package pairs current gospel stars with classic songs from Malaco’s gospel archives. Since the label owns the licensing rights to gospel music from such iconic labels as Apollo, Savoy, Atlanta International Records, Muscle Shoals Sound, GosPearl, and Onyx, it ...

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