Praise & Worship

“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 ...

Read More »

“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 ...

Read More »

“El Shaddai” – Marjane’

“El Shaddai” Marjane Independent (release date: November 12, 2021) www.marjanemusic.com By Robert M. Marovich Who knew that the Hebrew words for Almighty God could sound so sinuous when lifted in a quiet storm jam? BET Sunday Best finalist Marjane’ (pron. Mar-ja-nay) proves it in her latest single, “El Shaddai.” The California-based vocalist of 2019’s similarly breezy “I Choose You” is known for combining praise and worship lyrics with chill music much closer to smooth jazz than gospel. “El Shaddai” expresses many names for God in a way that evokes calm winds and water. “I Choose You” remains Marjane’s finest single ...

Read More »

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 ...

Read More »

Christina Bell – Still Faithful

Christina Bell Still Faithful Malaco Music Group (release date: July 30, 2021) www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich There’s no place like home. So that’s just where Christina Bell went, to her hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, to record a live worship service and package it as Still Faithful. Bell’s star has risen from her days in the youth choir at Shreveport’s Bright Star Baptist Church, to membership in the popular female gospel group Zie’l, to solo artist, and then actress, playing Twinkie Clark in Lifetime’s Clark Sisters biopic. Although Bell demonstrates dramatic flair on Still Faithful, it’s all about the singing. ...

Read More »

“You Are” – Byron Cage

“You Are” Byron Cage AIR / Malaco Music Group www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich Stellar Award-winning “Prince of Praise” Byron Cage delivers his latest single, “You Are,” a conventional mid-tempo P&W. Cage alternates between singing and incrementally thunderous exhorting as the background singers keep the song moving forward. While the melody and lyrics are consistent with other contemporary P&W fare, including Cage’s own catalog, the chorus, with its call-and-response litany of adjectives to describe God, is what’s most compelling. The song is from Cage’s September 2019 Atlanta International Records album Isolation (a prophetic title considering the past sixteen months).

Read More »

“Into This Place” – Bradie Frink & Ordinary People

“Into This Place” Bradie Frink & Ordinary People www.bfop.vision By Robert M. Marovich “Into This Place” is an antidote for the sameness of much P&W music. This lovely, liquid praise ballad, set in a minor key, benefits from a tender lead feature from Terrell Carter and sumptuous harmonies from Bradie Frink & Ordinary People, their singing anything but ordinary. The song has character, the production has crispness, and the musicians accompany the singers rather than compete with them. Originally from Washington, DC, and now living in North Carolina, Bradie Frink Jr. has served as the minister of music at numerous ...

Read More »

Kelontae Gavin – The N.O.W. Experience

Kelontae Gavin The N.O.W. Experience RCA Inspiration / Marquis Boone Enterprises (release date: March 5, 2021) www.rcainspiration.com By Robert M. Marovich Some gospel artists you meet outside of the church environment startle you when you witness their artistic presence in the spotlight. One is Jekalyn Carr—quiet and measured in informal conversation and a marvel of evangelistic motive force when ministering in music. Another is Kelontae Gavin. A Marquis Boone client, Gavin is a humble and amiable soul, a young man who conquered dark moments with healthy doses of sunny optimism and faith. But when he enters the spirit realm, Gavin ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: February 1, 2021

“Alpha and Omega” Jude Philips https://www.facebook.com/jude.akamien.9 By Robert M. Marovich On his gorgeous new single, “Alpha and Omega,” Nigerian medical doctor and gospel music minister Jude Philips expresses what he declares is “the unusual greatness and supremacy of God which makes all things possible through Him.” The mystical opening strains introduce a very simple major key melody characteristic of African gospel writ large. Philips sings lyrics of praise and adoration in two languages while his background vocalists offer a silky curtain of sound and a saxophone punctuates the atmosphere. As Philips and his team illustrate, less can be more. Dr. ...

Read More »

“Bow Down” – Christina Bell

“Bow Down” Christina Bell From the Malaco CD For His Glory www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich It’s not easy being the psalm to follow the popular Psalm 23 (“The Lord is My Shepherd”). Nevertheless, Psalm 24 has plenty of wonderful imagery to offer and Christina Bell must agree. The former Z’iel member sets its opening lines to a bracing P&W rhythm on her new single, “Bow Down.” From Bell’s September 2019 debut album for Malaco Music Group, “Bow Down” is the kind of aerobic selection frequently employed today to open worship services. Though Bell’s contralto has plenty of depth and shading, ...

Read More »