Reviews

“I’m Gonna Say Thank You Lord”

“I’m Gonna Say Thank You Lord” Ricky Paul From the independent CD Just a Country Boy (release date: March 26, 2020) https://www.heavensound.com/artists/rickypaul.htm By Robert M. Marovich Gospel quartet music and country music are not as dissimilar as one might think. Artists from each genre heard one another on the radio and copied the best of what they heard. Their southern roots and branches go back decades. Still, African American gospel soloists who consider their style “country” are few and far between. The last one JGM encountered was Alice McAfee Williams (Al Mac Will). Her 2009 introduction at the Gospel Music ...

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1K Phew & Lecrae – No Church in a While

1K Phew & Lecrae No Church in a While Reach Records (release date: December 3, 2021) www.reachrecords.com By Robert M. Marovich Christian hip hop artists don’t need the four walls of a church to spread the good news and save souls. They never have. Quite the opposite – they do their best work ministering along humanity’s highways and byways. Nevertheless, that didn’t keep 1K Phew and Lecrae from wondering about those who haven’t been to church in a while, because of the pandemic, because of church hurt, or both. On their ten-track No Church in a While, the Reach Records ...

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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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“There is a Time” – Garrick V. Morgan & Valerie V. Gay

“There is a Time” Garrick V. Morgan & Valerie V. Gay Cloud Records (release date: December 20, 2021) www.cloudrecordsllc.com By Robert M. Marovich Garrick V. Morgan and Valerie V. Gay blend their polished and passionate voices on “There is a Time,” which transforms Ecclesiastes 3 (“For everything there is a season”) into a poignant Broadway-style show stopper. To a backdrop of lush strings and a hefty rhythm section, Morgan and Gay remind listeners that God “will make everything beautiful in its time.” It’s what they call in show biz a big number. More importantly, it’s a reminder that this, the ...

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“He Brought Joy” – Bryan Andrew Wilson feat. the Wilsonettes

“He Brought Joy” Bryan Andrew Wilson feat. the Wilsonettes Bryan’s Songs / CE Music By Robert M. Marovich On the super up-tempo “He Brought Joy,” gospel stylist and Danville, Illinois, native Bryan Andrew Wilson contemporizes “I Can Tell the World,” a song first recorded about a century ago by the Taskiana Four and, as sung by Bertha Wise and the Wise Singers, is said to have inspired Roberta Martin to form the Roberta Martin Singers. Along with his wife Tiffany and mother Sheila as the Wilsonettes, Wilson injects plenty of Pentecostal fervor (and his band plenty of percussion) into this ...

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“Go Tell It on the Mountain” – Maverick City Music

“Go Tell It on the Mountain” Maverick City Music feat. Melvin Crispell III, Chandler Moore, and Mav City Gospel Choir From the Tribl Records album A Very Maverick Christmas (release date: November 30, 2021) www.maverickcitymusic.com By Robert M. Marovich Maverick City Music has taken the gospel music world by storm. Now the GRAMMY® Award-nominated and Stellar and Dove Award-winning collective tackles classic yuletide and other congregational singalong fare on A Very Maverick Christmas. Their version of the spiritual “Go Tell It on the Mountain” has the right mix of whirring organ, outsized choral harmonies, compelling contemporary rhythm, call-and-response work, and ...

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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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“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 ...

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Darius Droc Jackson – The Great Commission

Darius Droc Jackson The Great Commission Independent (release date: July 17, 2020) www.youtube.com/mrdroc2010 By Robert M. Marovich I’ve heard plenty of independently-produced holy hip hop projects that leave me feeling meh. Whether it’s the hasty production, derivative beats, or humdrum rhymes, they fall short of their promise. Not so The Great Commission. Darius Droc (pron. D-Rock) Jackson and his featured vocalists and producers offer ten measured, melodic meditations on the power of global discipleship. The opening track, a hook-laden, melodic, and radio-friendly “Kingdom Business,” serves up the album’s main premise: the Great Commission to preach the word of God to ...

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