Pick of the Week

JGM Pick of the Week:  March 7, 2022

“The Glory” Mama Tee feat. Awipi & Rume Independent (release date: October 9, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich “The Glory” is the product of an international collaboration between Canada-based songwriter Tolu Adeosun (Mama Tee), Nigerian-based music director and producer Awipi Emmanuel, and singers Rume and Jojo Vocals. Modern gospel singers in or from Africa tend to focus on songs of vertical praise more often than their U.S. counterparts, and this song is no exception. At the same time, Mama Tee penned “The Glory” out of a personal challenge. To a haunting melody, the lovely-voiced Rume as lead and Jojo Vocals ...

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JGM Pick of the Week:  February 21, 2022

“Jesus”Yael HiltonLight Records / MNRK Music Group (release date: February 11, 2022)www.yaelhilton.com By Robert M. Marovich “Jesus,” the new single by the young North Carolina gospel singer Yael Hilton, expresses the confidence of a believer that there are no problems in life that Jesus cannot fix. She even weaves in John 3:16 for extra emphasis. At times, Hilton sings along with the simple melody, at other times improvises around it like a gymnast circles around the bar. The song gets downright churchy at the vamp. The organ chirps and Hilton shifts into an evangelist’s fervor while she tosses out blue ...

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JGM Pick of the Week:  February 14, 2022

“I See a King” The Wood Drake Sessions feat. Liz Vice Independent (release date: January 21, 2022) www.thewooddrakesessions.com By Robert M. Marovich As Christian group The Wood Drake Sessions, Paul Ranheim and Kirk Sauers keep pumping out fine singles. The duo’s latest, “I See a King,” featuring lead vocalist Liz Vice, may be their best release to date. To a retro-soul foundation buoyed by a chirping organ, Vice and the ensemble reveal the true nature of Jesus, not the one morally disfigured by the far-right. The Jesus of this song is the one we know, the one who welcomes refugees, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week:  February 7, 2022

“The Garden” E. Daniels From the Presence Records CD The Garden (release date: May 2020) www.EDanielsministries.com By Robert M. Marovich While “The Garden” has been out for a while, it is deserving of a second listen, especially in preparation for Easter season. The song defies categorization. While Pastor Ernest E. (“E.”) Daniels delivers the ballad with robust gospel chops, the delicate melody and sparse arrangement evoke CCM when it isn’t trying to sound like country music. In an era of too many sound-alike songs, “The Garden” is distinctive for its heartfelt message about longing to return to that secret sacred ...

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JGM Pick of the Week – January 31, 2022

“Let God” Eloise https://www.facebook.com/eloise.skief By Robert M. Marovich With “Let God,” Tyler, Texas, gospel singer Eloise Skief, who goes by Eloise, delivers a lovely meditation on the familiar “let go and let God” trope. The sparse piano accompaniment allows Eloise to improvise vocally, though she doesn’t go overboard. In fact, it’s her controlled ornamentation that sells the song. She takes a repetitive melody line and endows it with sufficient variety to keep the listener engaged. Though she plays it cool here, there’s an underlying energy that suggests she can offer up an explosion of musicality if a song calls for ...

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JGM Pick of the Week – January 24, 2022

“On and On” The Collective UG From the C19 Music album The Sound of Revival (release date: December 3, 2021) www.thecollectiveug.com By Robert M. Marovich Though “On and On” is a lovely praise song by the Ugandan worship band Collective UG, it is clearly influenced by American Christian pop music. The delicate arrangement is crowned with simple lyrics and a singalong chorus sweetly sung by a female lead vocalist. Toward the end, the group seamlessly interpolates the 19th century hymn “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” to such a degree that the songs sound like they are second cousins. ...

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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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