Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week – March 21, 2022

“You’ve Been Good to Me”Zacardi CortezBlacksmoke Music Worldwide (release date: January 27, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich “You’ve Been Good to Me” is a song with simple lyrics and a singable melody—essentially a chorus and pounding vamp—but it’s the aggressive, hard-charging way in which Zacardi Cortez and his background singers render it that brings the live recording audience within a hair’s breadth of a praise break. Among the blessings Cortez identifies are those that rescued him from depression and from suicide ideation. “Have you ever been there?” he asks the congregation then turns back to his praise. “When I almost ...

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Johnny Ray Daniels – Whatever You Need

Johnny Ray Daniels Whatever You Need Bible & Tire (release date: May 6, 2022) https://fatpossum.com/collections/bible-tire-recording-co By Robert M. Marovich Like the Blind Boys of Alabama’s Jimmy Carter and the Savettes’ Goldwire McLendon, Johnny Ray Daniels didn’t record his first solo album after until after his Social Security checks started arriving. Regardless, his debut, Whatever You Need, is a fine example of how traditional gospel music still thrives in certain parts of the nation. The seventy-six-year-old patriarch of the North Carolina-based Daniels / Vines gospel music dynasty digs deep into the hymnbook for a handful of wooden church classics. His son ...

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“Cry For Your Soul” – Angelo & Veronica

“Cry For Your Soul” Angelo & Veronica From the A&V Music album Back to the Gospel (album release date: July 29, 2021) www.angeloandveronica.com By Robert M. Marovich The previous few singles released by Angelo & Veronica didn’t move me that much, but this one, “Cry For Your Soul,” is among their best. From their thirteenth album, Back to the Gospel, “Cry” explores the emotional turmoil of an evangelist trying desperately to save someone who is not making the process easy. It hearkens back to the duo’s heady days in the early ‘90s, when they were turning heads and winning awards. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week – March 14, 2022

“Peace Be Still” Kelontae Gavin Malaco Music Group (release date: January 20, 2022) www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich At the Malaco Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration in Jackson, Mississippi, gospel soloist Kelontae Gavin put his own melismatic touch on “Peace Be Still.” It’s from the CD and DVD chronicling the Fiftieth Anniversary concert, where today’s gospel artists reprised classics from the Malaco gospel catalog. Gavin doesn’t use the Rev. James Cleveland / Gwendolyn Cooper Lightner arrangement of “Peace Be Still” but instead borrows the score Thomas Whitfield wrote for Vanessa Bell Armstrong. Sweet background vocalists chant “peace be still” and “peace” as ...

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“Some Day We’ll Meet” – Bill Moss Jr. & the B. M. & E. State Choir ft. Carolyn Jacobs

“Some Day We’ll Meet” Bill Moss Jr. & the B.M. & E. State Choir ft. Carolyn Jacobs From the Salathiel Records album His Majesty (album release: 2020) http://www.salathielrecords.com/ By Robert M. Marovich The B. M. & E. State Choir punctuates “Some Day We’ll Meet,” a gleeful evocation of the great meeting in the hereafter, with “hallelujahs” and “forever and evers” from the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Handel’s Messiah. Carolyn Jacobs sings with the passionate spirit of a quartet lead over the B. M. & E. Choir’s effusive harmonies on this up-tempo song written by Bill Moss Sr. in the 1970s. The ...

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“I Do, Don’t You” – Kergyma Community Choir

“I Do, Don’t You” Kergyma Community Choir From the Kergyma Music Group album Choir Life (Deluxe Version) (release date: June 24, 2021) www.kergyma.org By Robert M. Marovich I appreciate when a contemporary gospel group pulls out the hymnbook and updates an old standard for today’s audiences. That’s what the Kergyma Community Choir does with “I Do, Don’t You.” They and lead singer Darnell Williams (of the Williams Singers) give the hymn such bounce that one could mistakenly think it was written last year. But the hymn on which this version is based, Melville Miller and E. O. Excell’s “I Know ...

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“I Still Got Joy” – Roy & Revelation

“I Still Got Joy” Roy & Revelation From the Malaco / 4 Winds Records album The Book of Revelation (release date: January 28, 2022) www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich South Carolina-based Roy & Revelation keeps the soul-stirring gospel quartet sound relevant with “I Still Got Joy.” Complete with call-and-response and vamp, the song swaggers in the knowledge that joy cometh despite today’s troubles. Not only is forsaking the devil’s deceitfulness to follow the Lord the way to “make it in,” but it’s also the way to get a healing touch on this side of the Jordan River. If you have ...

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JGM Pick of the Week:  March 7, 2022

“The Glory” Mama Tee feat. Awipi & Rume Independent (release date: October 9, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich “The Glory” is the product of an international collaboration between Canada-based songwriter Tolu Adeosun (Mama Tee), Nigerian-based music director and producer Awipi Emmanuel, and singers Rume and Jojo Vocals. Modern gospel singers in or from Africa tend to focus on songs of vertical praise more often than their U.S. counterparts, and this song is no exception. At the same time, Mama Tee penned “The Glory” out of a personal challenge. To a haunting melody, the lovely-voiced Rume as lead and Jojo Vocals ...

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“Like This” – Jamaal Miller

“Like This” Jamaal Miller Enon Music Group https://www.enonmusic.com/ By Robert M. Marovich I know Baltimore gospel artist Jamaal Miller has a new single out called “Had He Left Me There,” but I’m still living in last fall with his earlier single, “Like This.” Miller and a team of sunny background vocalists (possibly his group, Purposely Anointed) riff on the “trouble won’t last always” trope with a breeziness that sounds inspired by Kirk Franklin’s recent output. Put it in God’s hands, they sing, because “it ain’t gonna be like this always.” The melody, arrangement, and musicians are as bright and cheery ...

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Dedicated Men of Zion – The Devil Don’t Like It

Dedicated Men of Zion The Devil Don’t Like It https://fatpossum.com/collections/bible-tire-recording-co (release date: March 3, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich On The Devil Don’t Like It, their follow-up to 2020’s Can’t Turn Me Around, the Dedicated Men of Zion quartet breathes new life into a handful of gospel classics by fitting them with arrangements that sound straight out of the soulful early 1970s. It’s been a heady time for the Eastern North Carolina quartet. In addition to Can’t Turn Me Around, their second album and debut for Bruce Watson’s Bible & Tire imprint, the group was featured on the critically-acclaimed 2021 ...

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