Urban AC Gospel

“Liar” – Keyondra Lockett

“Liar” Keyondra Lockett IndieBlu Music (release date: July 22, 2022) www.keyondralockett.com By Robert M. Marovich With a touch of a Jamaican patois, Keyondra Lockett gleefully disrespects the devil on “Liar.” Put on the armor of God and the “Holy Ghost fire,” Lockett sings, and nothing the devil can throw at you will hit its target. These include shots fired, lying haters, and general stress. The penetrating electronica that surrounds Lockett all but leaps out of the speakers. It’s an attention-grabbing single from an original member of Zie’l, whom JGM first heard singing a cappella at the 2006 Gospel Music Workshop ...

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JGM Pick of the Week:  May 30, 2022

“Never Give Up” Del Harrison Independent (release date: March 1, 2022) www.iamdelharrison.com By Robert M. Marovich In achingly soulful tones, Del Harrison wants you to never forget that sunshine comes after the rain. Even if your prayers don’t seem to be getting through, “the Holy Spirit heard you / It’s gonna be alright.” Yes, this is the same Del Harrison who is well-regarded as a comedian. The song has come out of her testimony of life’s ebbs and flows, and very likely sounds like your testimony, too. “Never Give Up” eschews conventional contemporary urban gospel structure for an injection of ...

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JGM Pick of the Week – May 16, 2022

“Shake ‘Em Off” David E. Johnson Jr. feat. 1K Phew Trucast Music Digital (release date: March 25, 2022) www.DavidEJohnsonJr.com By Robert M. Marovich On “Shake ‘Em Off,” Memphis native David E. Johnson Jr. summons the percussive go-go sound of Washington, DC,  to bid good riddance to the devil. Johnson launched his gospel career in October 2021 with the original version of “Shake ‘Em Off,” co-written with Makeba Riddick-Woods. The extended version features a double-time rap interlude from Christian hip-hop artist Isaac “1K Phew” Gordon. The dynamic refrain is ready-made for full-body congregational participation. Plenty of kinetic energy in this piece.

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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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“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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JGM Pick of the Week August 23, 2021

“Redeemed” Denita Gibbs IndieBlu / eOne Music (release date: June 25, 2021) www.denitagibbs.com By Robert M. Marovich Denita Gibbs of Birmingham, Alabama (now living in Nashville), is an excellent gospel artist who has not gotten an even break since her 2013 project, the five-star Without You (Audiostate 55 Entertainment). For “Redeemed,” a jumping celebration of salvation, Gibbs employs the talented producer Sean D. Scales, who injects the arrangement with gallons of urban AC swagger. Perhaps this selection will not only express her joy at redemption but be redemptive for her career. She certainly deserves it. This woman can sing!

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Pastor Mike Jr. – I Got It: Singles Ministry

Pastor Mike Jr. I Got It: Singles Ministry Blacksmoke Music Worldwide (release date: August 13, 2021) www.pastormikejr.com By Robert M. Marovich Marriage as the ultimate culmination of a love relationship has been a mainstay of artistic expression for longer than anyone can remember. It’s the happy ending in Broadway and Hollywood musicals. Jukeboxes are packed with songs sung by men and women with marriage on their mind. Pastor Mike Jr. has something to say about that. His personal and ministerial experience suggests that the talk about coupling as the be-all and end-all to life can give singles an undeserved case ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 21, 2021

“Heavenly”TaMyya JFrom the MM Music Group CD Love for Your Namehttps://tamyya-j.com/ By Robert M. Marovich “Heavenly” is the type of contemporary gospel song you swear you’ve heard before, which means it’s a solid record. Former Mary Mary background singer TaMyya J, who has already posted some singles on the Billboard gospel charts, likely has another one. Written by Fred Jerkins III and Delisha Thomas Johnson, “Heavenly” is about the journey from brokenness to completion through the blessings of the Most High. “I take credit for nothing / ‘Cause I know where they come from,” the Willingboro, New Jersey, native sings ...

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Koryn Hawthorne – I Am

Koryn Hawthorne I Am RCA Inspiration (release date: September 18, 2020) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich I Am, the new album by Koryn Hawthorne, the award-winning gospel singer and finalist on The Voice, is as contemporary as this minute. The musical mission of her best-selling 2018 debut Unstoppable, to bathe Christian messages in an ocean of contemporary soul and R&B sounds, continues on I Am. Her vocals are just as sassy on the current single, a love song to the Most High called “Speak to Me,” as on her breakthrough hit, “Won’t He Do It.” But much of the lyrical mood ...

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