CDs

Various Artists – Kerry Douglas Gospel Mix Christmas

Various Artists Kerry Douglas Gospel Mix Christmas Blacksmoke Music Worldwide (release date: November 5, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich It’s that time again—Christmas songs and albums are hitting music reviewers’ inboxes. Among the earliest is a Kerry Douglas holiday celebration, an extension of his popular and longstanding Gospel Mix franchise into the Yuletide trade. Co-produced by Chicago’s own Gregory Gay, the project offers up new and familiar Christmas songs by artists signed to Douglas’s Blacksmoke Music Worldwide. The album’s best tracks are gospel arrangements of classic Christmas carols and songs. For example, powerhouse vocalist Monica Lisa Stevenson renders “Have Yourself ...

Read More »

Quinten Simon – God Did Just What He Said

Quinten Simon God Did Just What He Said Independent (release date: August 22, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb in proposing that Quinten Simon is a fan of the 1980s mass choir sound. His album, God Did Just What He Said, sounds like a Savoy Records release during the 1980s, the golden era of the gospel choir. Simon and eleven background vocalists that sing with the authority of a workshop choir blend contemporary and traditional styles on this ten-selection album. That bold mass choir sound is especially evident on the ...

Read More »

God’s Children – It’s So Amazing

God’s Children It’s So Amazing Independent (2018) https://www.facebook.com/godschildrenmemphis By Robert M. Marovich On It’s So Amazing, the Memphis, Tennessee-based Shirika “Re Re” Flowers and God’s Children (and also Re Re’s eldest children), run through a battery of gospel quartet-style songs, rendered with a churchy vibe and with frequent vamps for evangelical emphasis. Although the album notes do not include the names of specific lead singers for each of the album’s ten tracks, aurally it appears as if every member of the troupe has a chance to solo at least once. Young solo voices are particularly audible on “It Was Jesus,” ...

Read More »

Various Artists – Quartet is in My DNA

Various Artists Quartet is in My DNA 4 Winds / Malaco Music Group (release date: September 10, 2021) www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich On Quartet is in My DNA, the brainchild of Roy Ladson of Roy and Revelation, Paul Porter hosts a passel of current-day gospel singers who dust off classic songs by Ladson’s favorite gospel artists for a down-home, spirit-filled quartet program. All but Porter and Joseph Wooden lead an A and B selection on this project. Nevertheless, Wooden gets to lead off, and he does so with aplomb on the Soul Stirrers’ “Resting Easy,” complete with dynamic repetitive ...

Read More »

Various Artists – Sacred Soul of North Carolina

Various ArtistsSacred Soul of North CarolinaMusic Maker Foundation / Bible & Tire (release date: October 15, 2021)https://biglegalmessrecords.com/collections/bible-tire By Robert M. Marovich Just before the pandemic shut down the world, Alice Vines of the Glorifying Vines Sisters of Farmville, North Carolina (crate diggers will know their singles on Pinewood and Sound Hut), gathered ten other local artists in the small town of Fountain, northwest of Greenville. Reminiscent of record producer Ralph Peer’s 1927 Bristol, Tennessee, sessions, the groups came to Fountain prepared to record. In this case, it was Tim Duffy’s Music Maker Foundation and Bruce Watson’s Bible & Tire, not ...

Read More »

Christina Bell – Still Faithful

Christina Bell Still Faithful Malaco Music Group (release date: July 30, 2021) www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich There’s no place like home. So that’s just where Christina Bell went, to her hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, to record a live worship service and package it as Still Faithful. Bell’s star has risen from her days in the youth choir at Shreveport’s Bright Star Baptist Church, to membership in the popular female gospel group Zie’l, to solo artist, and then actress, playing Twinkie Clark in Lifetime’s Clark Sisters biopic. Although Bell demonstrates dramatic flair on Still Faithful, it’s all about the singing. ...

Read More »

Johnny Ruffin Jr. – I’m Gonna Praise the Lord

Johnny Ruffin Jr. I’m Gonna Praise the Lord JBP Music (release date: June 19, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Like Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson, Johnny Ruffin Jr. of North Carolina celebrates old-school quartet singing. That’s the feeling you get from his independently-released album, I’m Gonna Praise the Lord. While most songs have contemporary arrangements, Ruffin sings like a veteran quartet lead singer. He is most effective on covers of gospel classics like the Dixie Hummingbirds’ “So Much to Shout About” and the Jackson Southernaires’ “I Need You to Hold My Hand.” Notwithstanding the unnecessary blasts of synth, Ruffin and Stanley “Li’l ...

Read More »

Ruth Black and the Harmonettes – He Woke Me

Ruth Black and the Harmonettes He Woke Me Raymarkable Music, Inc. (release date: August 13, 2021) www.raymarkablemusic.net By Robert M. Marovich Production by Ray Braswell Jr. at his Raymarkable Studios in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, is a seal of quality for any quartet project, as it for the latest Braswell-produced CD, Ruth Black and the Harmonettes’ He Woke Me. The five-member female quartet from Alexander City, Alabama, offer ten quintessentially deep southern soul quartet selections. The album toggles between high-energy songs like “Weeping May Endure” (where the group bears an aural resemblance to the Ingramettes) and “I Know I’m Blessed;” ...

Read More »

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers – Somewhere Beyond the Blue

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers Somewhere Beyond the Blue Billy Blue Records (release date: May 7, 2021) www.radioramblers.com By Robert M. Marovich On the eleven-track Somewhere Beyond the Blue, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers offer southern gospel singing bluegrass style in the tradition of the Louvin Brothers, Carl Story, and the Lewis Family. Tight harmonies, dynamic banjo solos, and keening fiddle runs support southern gospel songs from the pens of such stalwart songwriters as Vep Ellis, Bill Anderson, and Marty Stuart. In general, the songs are sermonettes on the virtues of a good life and the promise of ...

Read More »

Pastor David Wright & NY Fellowship Mass Choir – Miracles

Pastor David Wright & NY Fellowship Mass Choir Miracles Godfather Records (release date: July 15, 2021) www.gracetabernacle.info By Robert M. Marovich For fans of contemporary gospel choirs, and especially for those who wonder where the choir went (it hasn’t gone anywhere) Pastor David Wright & NY Fellowship Mass Choir’s new release, Miracles, will delight. Although the audience is mostly inaudible, Miracles was recorded live in Brooklyn’s Christ Fellowship Baptist Church. The husky-voiced Wright, son of the late Reverend Timothy and Betty Wright, has loaded his new album with feature vocalists. For example, the opener, “Justified,” written and led by David ...

Read More »