Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week: January 17, 2022

“Well Done” Timothy “T.J.” Bouknight Higher Praise Records (2021) By Robert M. Marovich Elder Timothy “T.J.” Bouknight renders the pew-walker “Well Done” like the quartet veteran he is. The song is about the effort it takes to enter the gates of paradise. Bouknight opens “Well Done” with the classic couplet, “One of these days, won’t be very long…” Later, he sings about how he’s faithfully sending up his timber to get inside those gates. “When my so-called friends stabbed me in my back,” he offers, “I didn’t worry about nothing, I just stayed on track.” Bouknight’s staid-to-shouting lead vocal, especially ...

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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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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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JGM Pick of the Week: December 13, 2021

“Troubles Don’t Last Always” Mona Fenner From the forthcoming EMG Alliance album I’m Still Here www.monafenner.com By Robert M. Marovich Encouraging people to keep the faith in the midst of trials and tribulations is something gospel music does better than any other music genre. In many ways, it’s what makes gospel gospel. Thus it is on Madontrenique (what a beautiful name!) “Mona” Fenner’s debut single, “Trouble Don’t Last Always.” She sets the timeless message to a contemporary arrangement and instrumentation. Her voice, which shifts from sweet to shout as the song progresses, is straight outta church. Singing her troubles over ...

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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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JGM Pick of the Week: November 22, 2021

“Waves” Strong Tower Church feat. Maurette Brown Clark From the album Fresh Wind – New Waves (release date: October 22, 2021) www.strongtowerlive.com By Robert M. Marovich Strong Tower Church went big on their debut album, recruiting veteran musicians and the likes of Maurette Brown Clark and Charlin Neal as featured vocalists on its live project. The current single, “Waves,” features the effervescent Maurette waxing on the elements as symbols of God’s blessings, miracles, wonders, and new beginnings. “When a fresh wind blows, the unusual begins to happen,” she sings. It’s an expansive P&W piece with CCM and gospel ingredients, and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week November 15, 2021

“Wonderful” Kim Person KLP Music Enterprise (release date: October 2021) www.kimpersontheartist.com By Robert M. Marovich Kim Person gives the Reverend F. C. Barnes’ classic “So Many Wonderful Things” a loping, shoulder-shaking treatment. Slowing the tempo ever so slightly, Person offers a litany of the many wonderful things about Jesus. Although she gives no specific examples, Person makes it plain that her praise comes from blessings received. “When I call, you’re right on time.” She closes with a flowering of melisma. It’s gratifying when an artist recycles a favorite song in the gospel music canon, and also gratifying to see an ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 8, 2021

“God Kept Me”Beau Williams feat. the HamiltonesFrom the album Timeless (release date: September 24, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich “God Kept Me” by longtime vocalist Beau Williams, is a joyous gospel song about the constancy of the Most High. The rhythm guitar drives a handclapping tempo while popular vocal group the Hamiltones answer Williams’ declarations with percussive harmonizing. Lively and enchanting. And Williams can sure enough sing, his high yodel on the refrain evokes Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers. Gaining exposure on the television show Star Search in the mid-1980s, the Houston-born Williams had an R&B career on Capitol ...

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