Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TBGB Pick of the Week: April 15, 2014

“Whatever I Expect”
Bishop Larry Trotter & Sweet Holy Spirit Combined Choirs
From the Utopia Music Group album Praise Revisited (2013)

“Trials and tribulations, we have overcome,” sings the choir, in response to Bishop Larry Trotter’s reminder that if you “expect little, you’re going to get little.  But if you expect great, you’re gonna get great.” 

The churchy Chicago style is in full force as the choir members sing of their overcoming and achieving the great—from the frenetic praise-break tempo to the throaty vocals of the chorus and praise team leader (and now First Lady) Mildred Trotter’s raw and unbridled lead vocals.  It’s Sunday morning church music from Chicago’s Southeast Side!

Monday, April 14, 2014

James "Wonder Boy" Smith, Quartet Singer, Dies

Quartetter James Smith, the "Wonder Boy" who sang with Rev. Richard Campbell in the 1950s, died April 10, 2014, in Waterloo, South Carolina.

Smith was also a member of the Golden Stars, lead singer with the Southern Wonders, and sang with the Gospel lmperials.

Read the obituary here: James Smith

Thanks to John Glassburner for informing TBGB of  Bro. Smith's passing.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chicago a cappella's "Birth of Gospel" educates, entertains

“The Birth of Gospel”
Chicago a cappella
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Nichols Concert Hall, Evanston, Illinois

By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog

The historic Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston was packed to the rafters to hear Chicago a cappella perform “The Birth of Gospel” yesterday evening.

The mostly Caucasian crowd didn’t need the ghost of Mahalia Jackson to teach them how to clap on the gospel beat.  They did just fine whenever the eight-member ensemble—four men and four women—delivered a hand-clapper selection in its two-hour program of songs ranging from spirituals and lining hymns to traditional and contemporary gospel.

Dr. Rollo Dilworth, chair of the Music Education Department at Temple University, was the program’s music director, narrator, and piano accompanist.  Wait…piano?  For an a cappella ensemble?  Founder Jonathan Miller explained that presenting a faithful interpretation of gospel music meant adding piano, even though it was only the second time in its 20-year history that the group sang with accompaniment.

Nevertheless, Dilworth’s piano accompaniment was like a ninth voice.  He incorporated Mildred Falls’s jazz licks on “Didn’t It Rain” and a light boogie-woogie beat on “I Want to Walk and Talk with Jesus.” 

Chicago a cappella with Dr. Rollo Dilworth, piano
Chicago a cappella injected many of the selections—from “Precious Lord” to “Beams of Heaven”—with modern harmonies, though they showed their capacity to sing gospel harmonies on a Dilworth original, “No Rocks a-Cryin’,” and the Walt Whitman and the Soul Children favorite, “Perfect Praise.”  Soprano Alexia Kruger lofted operatic high notes a la DeLois Barrett Campbell on Robert Mayes’ “I Want to Walk and Talk with Jesus.”  Mezzo-soprano Emily Price’s million-dollar smile lit up the stage throughout the show as she reveled in the blue tonality of several songs.

The men emulated southern gospel's Statesmen Quartet on their bracing version of “Goodbye, World, Goodbye.”  Given the primacy of black gospel quartets during gospel’s Golden Age, it would have been great to hear the male quartet also attempt something by the Soul Stirrers or Pilgrim Travelers, “Mother Bowed” or “Jesus Gave Me Water,” for example.

The Faith Temple COGIC Youth Choir of Evanston sang immediately after intermission.  The group, from the church pastored by Bishop Carliss Moody, delivered full-throated selections by Twinkie Clark and Joshua’s Troop.  Later, they joined Chicago a cappella on the show-stopping Calvin Bridges’ classic 1981 composition, “I Can Go to God in Prayer.”

Chicago a cappella and Faith Temple COGIC Youth Choir
Dilworth’s narration between songs educated the audience on the history of African American sacred music and set the stage for each selection. The ensemble’s rendition of Charles A. Tindley’s “Beams of Heaven,” arranged by Robert Wooten, was the standout.

Dr. Dilworth and Chicago a cappella presented “The Birth of Gospel” with an appropriate and respectful mixture of gravitas and exuberance.  They gave the Zion songs a classical patina while retaining their vernacular vibrancy.  Just another example of why gospel music is truly an American art form.

The program travels to the Wentz Concert Hall, 171 East Chicago Avenue in Naperville, this afternoon for a 4:00 p.m. program.  It closes Saturday, April 19, at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 East 60th Street in Chicago.  For more information or tickets, visit www.chicagoacappella.org or call (773) 281-7820.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Palm Sunday Special - A Musical Journey Through Chicago's Historic Churches

Enjoy this one-hour episode of Gospel Memories, which features vintage moments from some of Chicago's African American church choirs.  It's Part II of our "Musical Journey Through Chicago's Historic Churches."

For the playlist, visit www.gospelmemories.com and click on Playlist and Previews.


Friday, April 11, 2014

"Love Me Through" - Lateefah

“Love Me Through”
Lateko Records (release date: April 18)

To a balmy, keyboard-led neo-soul groove, Lateefah sings that no matter what happens on the outside, she has love inside.  She also has complete trust in the Lord that He will make everything on the outside better, too.  Her breezy, relaxed voice fits the song like a pair of comfortable denims.

Born in London, where she studied at the London Centre of Contemporary Music, inspirational singer-songwriter Lateefah Elcock, aka Lateefah, has roots in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, where the water is blue, the plants are tropical green, and we all want to visit.  She went to St. Lucia to record her debut album, from which “Love Me Through” comes.

In addition to singing and writing, Lateefah is teaching music to young children at the southern branch of the St. Lucia School of Music.

The single, produced by London based KING, will be released on April 18.  Meanwhile, check out the video of the song (love the "Geek" sweatshirt!):  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bobby Jones - Rejoice With Me!

Bobby Jones
Rejoice With Me!
EchoPark JDI Entertainment (2014)

By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog

While he is the undisputed king of gospel television—Bobby Jones Gospel is the longest-running cable television program, period— Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones has not always fared as well on radio.

That just changed with Rejoice With Me.  Produced by Michael Bereal and Professor James Roberson for EchoPark JDI, the album showcases the work of Jones’ Nashville Super Choir, a team of capable musicians, and several soloists. 

Functioning basically as narrator, Jones gives the album over to NSC and top-shelf gospel singers such as Faith Evans, who leads the spirited title track.  Ann Nesby’s biting traditional singing combines with Jones’s opening solo on the up-tempo, Pentecostal-fueled “Right Now Praise,” written by Percy Gray.  Shawn McLemore fronts “Let’s Praise The Lord,” another spritely handclapper.  “The more I praise, the better I feel,” McLemore sings, and it’s clear he’s feeling just fine.

“Faithful Is He” is the album’s sleeper.  Written by Pharis Evans Jr. and Jewell Maulty IV, this sweet ballad on the steadfastness of God is led by NSC member Kyla Jade, a stellar singer whose vibrant voice can also be heard at Cathedral of Praise COGIC, where she is a Praise and Worship leader under the Honorable Bishop Jerry L. Maynard.

The tightness of the choir, the song selection, the tilt toward the traditional, and the work of the soloists, especially Kyla Jade, are what make this album work.  Especially effective are the brief exposition of church classics, notably “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” and “No Not One.”  Each are given a solid reading by Jade, Jamar Carter, and Kimberly D. Fleming.  The album would have been even stronger had the instrumental-plus-choir version of the title track been replaced by another one of these chestnuts.

Nevertheless, the blend of the contemporary and traditional on Rejoice With Me! will make it winner with a wide variety of gospel enthusiasts.

Four of Five Stars

Picks: “Right Now Praise,” “Let’s Praise the Lord.” 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Chicago Area Gospel Singer Todd Dulaney Signs with Entertainment One Music

NASHVILLE, TN (April 8, 2014) – Entertainment One Music has signed celebrated artist, songwriter and worshipper Todd Dulaney to its award-winning Gospel roster.  Joining eOne Music in a new recording deal, the Stellar Award-nominated singer will record and release multiple albums, with the first single slated for release in late Summer this year, off his upcoming new album slated for a first-quarter release in 2015.  He’ll also be appearing on The Word Network, live on Wednesday April 9th, at 8 pm EST. 

Currently in-studio recording the finishing touches for his upcoming new album, Dulaney says of joining eOne Music: “My family and I are beyond excited for this fresh connection with eOne. I've watched them do great things in the music business, so I'm humbled to have the chance to be a part of and enhance this mighty machine.”

Phil Thornton, eOne Music Vice President of Marketing & New Business Development, adds, “eOne Music is excited to sign an exceptional talent like Todd Dulaney, whose skilled songwriting and artistry have quickly made him a standout new artist to watch. His passion for ministry is apparent in every lyric and melody, inspiring anyone who has heard his songs, and as we continue development on Todd’s new album, it is clear that his music will impact Gospel for a long time to come.”

Read TBGB's August 2013 interview with Todd Dulaney here.

Texas Gospel Announcer Bill "The Mailman" Martin Dies

Yvonne Wesley-Seabrooks, president of the Chicago Area Gospel Announcers Guild, informed TBGB that Bill "The Mailman" Martin, gospel announcer and president of the Texas Chapter of the Gospel Announcers Guild, died in his sleep yesterday.

Born in Asheville, North Carolina and, at one time, a budding jazz saxophonist, Martin became Austin Texas's most popular gospel radio personality.  He spun gospel on KIXL and most recently on "The Word," KLGO 1490 AM.  Martin was a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, founded the Texas Gospel Announcers Guild, was a fixture at the annual Gospel Announcers Guild conventions, and a real gentleman.

Our prayers go out to his son and daughters.

Homegoing details for Bill Martin, courtesy of Deacon Dennis Cole

7:00 PM
Friday, April 18, 2014
11:00 AM
Saturday, April 19, 2014
 All services at the
St. James Baptist Church
3417 East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Austin, Texas

Video Break: James Willis - "He Cares"

Here's a music video of "He Cares" by James Willis with Linda Willis & The NuPraze Singers.  The story in the video, and the song, are inspired partly by Linda's cancer survival.