Pick of the Week

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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JGM Pick of the Week November 1, 2021

“So Much to Thank God For” New Macedonia M.B. Church Mass Choir feat. Betty Griffin Keller From the CD Faithful (release date: September 4, 2020) https://mynmmbc.org/ By Robert M. Marovich “So Much to Thank God For” is more than a vibrant throwback choral piece from the New Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Mass Choir. It’s also a testimony for featured vocalist Betty Griffin Keller. Keller, a member of the Cleveland Singers, a soloist with the Southern California Community Choir, and a solo gospel recording artist, celebrates fifteen years of being cancer free. The abundant joy of life is evident in her ...

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JGM Pick of the Week October 25, 2021

“Open Up the Windows of Heaven” Lucinda Marie Independent (release date: August 10, 2021) www.LucindaMarieMusic.com By Robert M. Marovich Lucinda Marie, the self-described “former pastor’s wife,” puts on her stylish shouting shoes, lifts the hem of her long dress ever so slightly, and holy dances through this up-tempo piece. The lyrics, which quote from Malachi 3:10, provide Lucinda and her background vocalists plenty of room for call-and-response. She starts the long vamp with “Fill my cup” and it leads to plaudits abundant. A real stomper in the finest perspiration-drenched church-wrecking tradition. From Austin, Texas, Lucinda Marie (Taylor) has a Ph.D. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 18, 2021

“There Will Be a Light Again” Kali Joy From the CD Real Life (release date: September 24, 2021) www.kalijoy.com By Robert M. Marovich Christian singer Kali Joy’s “There Will Be a Light Again” may not be the single from her album Real Life, but it certainly ought to be. It’s a gorgeous song of hope that, in its graceful delicacy and empty spaces, exudes the wistfulness of the autumn season, when it’s “time to die, time to let go of what you’ve known and journey on into the dark of the winter.” Kali delivers the life-sustaining optimism in the refrain, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 4, 2021

“You Fight On” Apostle James Pinckney Jr. & Voices of Faith From The Sound of Holiness (release date: November 6, 2020) https://faithtabernaclechurchofzion.com/ By Robert M. Marovich From South Carolina, the Voices of Faith choir, under the direction of Apostle James Pinckney Jr., was one of the darlings of the 2021 Rhythm of Gospel Awards weekend, winning in four categories, including Song of the Year for “You Fight On.” The up-tempo song about persistence and endurance has the soul of a wooden-church congregational hymn supported by tambourines, washboard, cowbell, and a House of God-style steel guitar. The choir sings with verve ...

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