Reviews

“We Call” – Grant Allison IV

“We Call” Grant Allison IV One Nation Under God Records (Release date: April 14, 2020) www.grantallisoniv.com By Robert M. Marovich Though worship pastor Grant Allison IV has a new single (“Here”) and “We Call” has been around a while, I’m nevertheless struck by the loveliness and power of the latter song. “We Call” is orchestrated dramatically to fit its message of a community calling on Jesus during times of confusion. The chorus is deliberately hypnotic to capture the hushed vibe of a worship moment. It’s well-sung P&W with a pop flavor, courtesy of the thumping drums and recurrent electric guitar ...

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JGM Pick of the Week:  August 1, 2022

“With Joy We Draw Water” The Bishop’s Choir feat. Kyle Sanders Enon Music Group (release date: April 15, 2022) www.enonmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich The Bishop’s Choir gives the original John Howard Caravan classic, “With Joy We Draw Water,” a full-throated rendering, complete with impassioned lead by Min. Kyle Sanders. From the Sim Wilson Jr. and John Howard Caravan album If You Need a Blessing (Savoy 1981), “With Joy We Draw Water” takes its text from Isaiah 12:3. With introductions from a chirpy church organ, the Bishop’s Choir layers its harmonies section-by-section as the members sing the title line like ...

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“Worship Him” – Donnell Russell

“Worship Him” Donnell Russell Independent (release date: May 30, 2022) www.donnellrussell.com By Robert M. Marovich “Worship Him” is a blast of extroverted praise by New Orleans’ own Elder Donnell Russell. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the late Bruce Ballinger’s classic hymn given a hyper-rhythmic arrangement. While the background singers get bluesy on the vamp, Russell flexes his preacher’s voice to declare his praise by lining out the many names for Jesus. His use of a portion of the Lord’s Prayer in call-and-response with his singers is another time-honored gospel singing technique. Altogether, “Worship Him” packs a wallop. No ...

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“Lord of All” – Carolyn Wright

“Lord of All” Carolyn Wright Independent (release date: April 3, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Ms. Carolyn Wright lit up the Rhythm of Gospel Awards in Jacksonville, Florida, last month with her lead vocals for one of the many talented church choirs that were in attendance. I wasn’t alone in my plaudits—many present at the event singled her out for the poised, polished, and passionate singing you hear on her single, “Lord of All.” Written and produced by Courtney Franklin, “Lord of All” has the musical majesty of a contemporized hymn. Just as importantly as the song’s message and noble ...

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Hood Memorial AME Zion Church Celebration Choir – I’m In His Plans

Hood Memorial AME Zion Church Celebration Choir I‘m In His Plans Bison Disc (release date: February 23, 2021) https://hoodmemorialamez.com/ By Robert M. Marovich Time was, you would have looked long and hard in the AME Zion church writ large and found neither gospel music nor gospel singers anywhere within the four walls. Hymns, yes. Anthems, yes. Spirituals, check. Gospel songs, not so much. Then you hear “It’s About Time to Praise Him” by the joyously full-throated Celebration Choir from the Hood Memorial AME Zion Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and you realize those days are passed and gone. Complete with ...

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JGM Pick of the Week – July 18, 2022

“Proud of Me” Treva Chezmusique (release date: June 18, 2022) www.trevajones.com By Robert M. Marovich Treva Jones is no stranger to gospel music or to the Journal of Gospel Music. Written by the premier songwriter V. Michael McKay, “Proud of Me” is Jones’s latest single. Her warm, resonant alto curls around a lyric that expresses the challenges as well as the joys of being a disciple of Christ. “When you look in my direction,” she sings upward, “I pray that my reflection will make you put a smile on your face.” Produced by Sanchez Harley and co-produced by Paul Richards, ...

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William Murphy – Worship & Justice

William Murphy Worship & Justice RCA Inspiration (release date: July 15, 2022) www.rcainspiration.com By Robert M. Marovich Do gospel artists have a responsibility to speak truth to power through their songs? Isn’t all gospel music message music, or should it be more explicit when it comes to the social gospel? Answers vary from artist to artist. For his part, Bishop William Murphy embraces the responsibility of social leadership through music ministry on Worship & Justice, his seventh album and first since 2019’s GRAMMYⓇ-nominated Settle Here. Recorded live in December 2021, at dReam Center Church in Atlanta, the album finds Murphy ...

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Bro. Glenn – Childlike Faith

Bro. Glenn Childlike Faith WayMakker Music (release date: December 22, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich “Will you be ready when Jesus comes?” asks Christian hip hop artist Bro. Michael Glenn, aka Bro. Glenn, at the outset of his album Childlike Faith. I don’t know about you, but from the sounds of it, Glenn is ready. Although there’s neither a melodic nor specific lyrical theme that ties Childlike Faith together, there are plenty of recommendations here on how to live the kind of life that will prepare you successfully for the final days. The Christian hip hop artist mostly sings but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week – July 12, 2022

“Grace Over Me” Mike Geo Independent (release date: July 8, 2022) www.MikeGeoMusic.com By Robert M. Marovich What Staten Island CCM artist Michael Giordano, aka Mike Geo, offers in “Grace Over Me” is a fizzy, energetic outpouring of gratitude for salvation. When the walls are closing in, Geo closes his eyes and remembers that God’s grace covers him. His charming tenor and acoustic guitar work deliver a cheery enthusiasm, a Jonathan McReynolds-meets-Jamie Grace vibe. The song is simple, short, and to the point.

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JGM Pick of the Week – July 5, 2022

“Take Me to the River” VAA’DAM KJ Productions (release date: March 8, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich The last time JGM heard from Dallas, Texas-based female duo VAA’DAM, they were featured on Kisha Grandy’s 2021 album Epitome. Trina and Quita are back with “Take Me to the River,” a laidback and soulful paean to the power of redemption through baptism. It’s not a redux of the spiritual sometimes called “None but the Righteous,” but a new song written by Kelton Je’Von. The group’s nod to folk spirituals continues in its reference to going “down to the riverside / to study ...

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