Singles

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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“He Kept Me” – Lamont Sanders

“He Kept Me”Lamont SandersFrom the Bear Tag / DarkChild Gospel EP He’s a Keeper(release date: February 20, 2020)www.lamontsanders.com By Robert M. Marovich On “He Kept Me,” Lamont Sanders expresses his gratitude to God who never left him despite his doubts, mistakes, and lack of focus on the Word. Sanders sings with a confidence and muscularity equaled only by the insistent thumping of a drum that opens the song and ultimately folds itself within the rhythm section. At the end of last month, “He Kept Me” received love from Billboard, where it hit the number one spot on the mag’s Gospel ...

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“Holy” – Maritza Rico

“Holy” Maritza Rico P&L Records (release date: August 28, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Maritza Rico’s “Holy” is quintessential P&W, with its easy-to-learn lyrics, catchy melody, and congregation-inviting chorus. Written and produced by Dee Jones, the song is reminiscent of praise anthems by Michael W. Smith and Chris Tomlin. It’s Rico’s expansive and tuneful voice that sells it. Born in East Los Angeles, Maritza Rico began her music journey participating in talent shows on Latin television and a background singer for Beatriz Solis, daughter of Latin music star Marco Antonio Solis. Rico joined the worship team at Abundant Living Family ...

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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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“I See Heaven” – Janicka

“I See Heaven” Janicka Sonacy Music Group (release date: April 1, 2021) Gospel singer Janicka Newbill delivers her melodic single, “I See Heaven,” an invitation to God to enter the worship service, with confidence, conviction, composure, and clarity. She is ably assisted by sweetly-singing background vocalists and strings for added poignancy. At a time of too many sound-alike worship songs, this one stands out for its honeyed melody and delicacy. “I See Heaven” is written by California-based worship leaders and singing duo Bryan and Katie Torwalt. Producer is Franklin “Bubby” Fann, on whose 2002 album Judah Prayze Janicka distinguished herself ...

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“Can’t Wait” – Red Hands feat. Jonathan McReynolds

“Can’t Wait” Red Hands feat. Jonathan McReynolds Black Suit Music (release date: October 29, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich The six-member Ohio band Red Hands sways and swaggers like The Roots sans brass while Jonathan McReynolds moves and grooves as the featured vocalist on “Can’t Wait.” The funky and optimistic arrangement, amplified by the wide-eyed wonder apparent in McReynolds’ voice, portrays the journey from this life to the next not something to fear but to anticipate as eagerly as summer vacation. Finger popping all the way up the heavenly staircase. Over there is unity, singing, and worship. (I’m hoping also ...

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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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“Truth” – Charles Martin

“Truth” Charles Martin Chuck’s Room (release date: September 2020) By Robert M. Marovich A singer, songwriter, actor, and former member of Deitrick Haddon’s Stellar Award-winning group Voices of Unity, Charles Martin flexes his melodious tenor voice on “Truth,” an atmospheric ballad he co-wrote with Rachard “Chardyroc” Williams. The song is partly a prayer seeking wisdom and guidance, and partly a prayer of gratitude for the freedom of salvation. It’s inspired by Martin’s own struggles as well as those of the nation. The freedom theme can be heard not only in Martin’s unfettered vocals during the vamp, but also in the ...

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“Jehovah Jireh” – Zak Williams & 1/Akord

“Jehovah Jireh” Zak Williams & 1/Akord Enon Music Group (release date: September 17, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich “Jehovah Jireh” celebrates God and old-school (’80s) gospel, Philly style. Representing the City of Brotherly Love, Zak Williams & 1/Akord offer a praise song with an agile arrangement noted for full-throated staccato choral singing, evangelistic exhortations from Williams, a flowing melody, and a hard-hitting rhythm section. Williams namechecks GMWA Mass Choir and Wilmington Chester Mass Choir alumnus Kevin Pringle, not only for added Philly cred but because the recording is a cover of Pringle’s composition. I first learned of Zak Williams & ...

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“Class Clown” – Mandala

“Class Clown”MandalaIndependent (release date: December 17, 2021)https://mandalaraps.com/ By Robert M. Marovich Born in Joliet, Illinois, Mandala is a self-proclaimed “radical” Catholic rapper who uses the fire and brimstone rhymes of Protestant holy hip-hop to wage legit war against the world’s wrongs. As a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (my alma mater), Mandala would have been brought up with the hymnbook and the greatest hits of the St. Louis Jesuits. Instead, he’s done a 180 into hip-hop. His singles include “American Pope,” the title track of his mid-2021 debut album, which combines serious subjects and personal testimony with Catholic ...

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