Monday, July 28, 2014

"The King" - Drew Chambers f. Armar'rae Hill & True Foundation

"The King"
Drew Chambers f. Armar'rae Hill & True Foundation (2014)
Available at iTunes


Nearly as fast as BET Sunday Best 7 axed him (July 20) after a pristine performance of Smokie Norful's "I Need You Now," Drew Chambers released a single for his already-huge following (peep his Facebook page), and his newly acquired fans.

"The King," which features Armar'rae Hill and True Foundation, is equally friendly to radio and worship team playlists.  Drew's eclectic blend of worship and soul intensifies the reverent tune and is an impeccable complement to the vocals of Hill and his team of talented singers.

Drew is a native of Hickory, NC (of which I'm familiar, because I'm also a North Carolinian), and is definitely one to watch.  You can do just that at drewchambersonline.com.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Damion Murrill and Siloam 'give God the glory'

Photo | Brittney White
Damion Murrill (foreground, left) and Siloam
minister to a capacity congregation at the Yancey Family Ministries "Giving God the Glory" Gospel Explosion at Cornerstone Christian Community Church in Oxford, NC Saturday evening.  Their forthcoming CD is scheduled to drop this summer and features the group's current single, "Kingdom Come."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"God's Been Good" - Carol Maraj

"God's Been Good"
Carol Maraj (2014)
Fame Star Records/MDM Music Group
Available at iTunes

Carol Maraj has no qualms about letting the world know that God has sustained her through experiences that some others didn't survive (see her interview with GMF here).  She is alive and has overcome because "God's Been Good."

Maraj's single, "God's Been Good," cites healing from cancer and protection from a shooting in its verses, as testimonies of the perpetual goodness of God.  The contemporary pop synth gospel tune has been creating a buzz since early this year.

Maraj currently resides in New York and heads the Carol Maraj Foundation, an advocacy organization for victims of domestic violence.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Carol Maraj, mother of Nicki Minaj, talks about her music, mission, and message

Photo | Paul Stephens
By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Carol Maraj is making a name for herself, and it's not necessarily through her famed rapper daughter Onika Maraj--better known as Nicki Minaj.  As a matter of fact, mother and daughter are on separate musical journeys, and Carol's includes gospel music and humanitarianism.

Last week, GMF's Libra Boyd had the opportunity to learn more about the minister's music, mission, and message.  

Libra:  Thanks so much for talking with Gospel Music Fever Blog about your life, your music, and how your experiences have brought you into a greater sense of purpose.  For starters, you are a domestic violence survivor.  Tell us about this ordeal in particular as well as how it relates to the message you now share through your music and through the Carol Maraj Foundation.

Carol: Living with an addict became overwhelming for me.  He was constantly threatening and menacing.  It escalated one night in December when he pulled me out of a car, punching me all over my face and head. This was my turning point.  Being a survivor affords me the ability to relate to others who are going through and who have been through.  My music reminds them that they were created for better.  My foundation's mission is to build self esteem and empower so that the abused, misused and battered, may see their goals attainable.

Libra:  Not only are you musical, but so is your family.  One of your children is R&B/hip-hop superstar Nicki Minaj.  Some people immediately suppose that you have connections in the secular industry, which would provide you with a larger platform compared to gospel when it comes to advocating for domestic violence victims.  Why, then, is gospel music your choice for sharing your message with the world?

Carol: It is not a choice for me but a calling.  It all boils down to my passion and drives.  As an Evangelist, singing is just another channel to help others come to know the Lord, build faith, and overcome their trials.

Libra:  What has been Nicki’s response to your advocacy work and music? 

Carol: Nicki is very protective, and does not want me in the media. However, I am on a mission from God; this is the season He has assigned for me.

Libra:  Your current single is “God’s Been Good.”  Tell us about it!

Carol: "God's Been Good" allows us to reflect on moments when we did not expect to make it, but we did. It is about understanding that God is real and that even at unawares, He is bringing us through life's challenges.

Libra:  Will the full-length project be entirely gospel?  Can we expect to hear some collaborations?  

Carol: No. My songs are both inspiring and motivating.  There [will] be collaborations in the future.  This album will benefit all listeners. Believers and non-believers.  It is well balanced musically.

Carol's current single, "God's Been Good," is available on iTunes. For more about the Carol Maraj Foundation, you can visit www.carolmaraj.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @CarolMarajOrg.

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Heartbeat" - Ethan Kent

"Heartbeat"
Ethan Kent (2014)
Tonic Blueprint LLC
Available at iTunes

It's both a unique and unforgettable way to announce and celebrate the expectancy of one's firstborn.  Ethan Kent and his wife Audrey have done so by releasing a lullaby entitled "Heartbeat."

Penned by Ethan along with Jamall Houston, the lullaby is a passionate aural love letter from parent to child ("...before you learn to crawl or walk your own first step / I ain't perfect, but I vow to do my very best / Know that I'll give life more just for your heartbeat...") with the baby's actual heartbeat synced to the lullaby at the end.

According to Ethan's blog, he learned of his and his wife's pregnancy Father's Day, following a musical engagement in Chicago.  The mother-to-be requested that he compose a song for "the big announcement."

"Heartbeat" is available at iTunes, and a portion of the download proceeds will go to prebornfriends.org.

Congratulations to the parents to be!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Caesar: "Daddy Harold, I will see you again!"

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Pastor Shirley Caesar-Williams
A capacity crowd filled the pews and every available chair of Raleigh's 1500-seat Mt. Calvary Word of Faith today (July 12) for the second and final day of "Celebration of Life" services for Bishop Harold Ivory Williams.

During the joyous four-hour service, a host of clergy tributes were interspersed between uplifting musical numbers from the combined choirs of Washington, DC's Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church.  Bishop Terence Sykes and Pastor Frenchee Wiggins each rendered stirring hymn solos.  Sykes' a cappella rendering of "Great is Thy Faithfulness" gave rise to the morning's first sanctuary-wide praise frenzy, and "To God Be the Glory" as ministered by Wiggins was one of Bishop Williams' favorite songs.

Elder Hope Mason
Elders Marc and Hope Mason and Pastor Shirley Caesar-Williams also fondly remembered their beloved with family tributes.  Hope spoke first, sharing warm memories of "Daddy," followed by her husband, Marc, who recalled invaluable albeit humorous advice he received from his new father-in-law the day he and Hope eloped. Pastor Caesar then gave reflections of "Daddy Harold," as she lovingly called him, and expressed deep gratitude before bursting into dance and minutes later, the chorus of "He's Working It Out For You." At least twice, she addressed Bishop Williams directly and with admiration, first declaring, "Daddy Harold, I will see you...I will see you again!" and then, in her final words before leaving the pulpit, "We remember you, Daddy Harold."

Additional expressions of sympathy were acknowledged from The Clark Sisters, Bishop T.D. Jakes, President Obama, and others.

Archbishop Alfred Owens, Jr., Presiding Prelate of MCHCA and spiritual son of Bishop Williams, delivered the eulogy. 

"The Last Mile"
Pastor Caesar prepares to escort "Daddy Harold," her love of 31 years, to his resting place.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bishop Harold Ivory Williams remembered at first of two 'Celebration of Life' services

The Caesar Singers sing "You Can Make It" at Friday evening's memorial musical.

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Hundreds gathered this evening to celebrate the life of Bishop Harold Ivory Williams, Sr. at the first of two days of services for the former Presiding Prelate and Senior Bishop Emeritus of the Mount Calvary Holy Church of America (MCHCA), Inc.  Bishop Williams, who passed July 4, at age 93, was remembered as "The Patriarch, The Preacher, The Pianist."

Among the many who gave remarks and musical tributes during the two and a half hour service at Raleigh's Mt. Calvary Word of Faith Church were Bishop Barbara Amos, Bishop George Bloomer, organist/songwriter Michael Mathis, the Caesar Singers, and the Cornerstone Church of Jesus Christ Combined Choir. 

Bishop Williams was praised for his humility, humor, leadership, scholarship, and particularly his musicianship.  In fact, many in attendance learned tonight that his middle name, Ivory, was acquired in association with a group he founded in the 1940's, The Ivory Gospel Singers (which also had Thelma Jackson, who later sang with the Clara Ward Singers, as its member).  It happens that Mahalia Jackson was the first to refer to him by "Ivory," causing the name--actually a fitting one, considering his gift for tickling the ivories--to remain with him.

Saturday's national "Celebration of Life" service will begin at 11am, at Raleigh's Mt. Calvary Word of Faith Church, with viewing for two hours prior.  According to Bishop Kelvin Shouse, you can go to www.mchca.org for information about live streaming.

"God Will Make It Work" - Jscott Martin f. The Glove (Video)


"Even though this is an R&B song, I would like to consider myself a Christian artist," says Jscott Martin, bassist, vocalist, and producer during the musical interlude of his band's R&B groove, "God Will Make It Work."

Check out the video, recorded live at Berklee College of Music, which expresses a lover's confidence in courtship guided by faith in God and inspired by Proverbs 18:22.  "God Will Make It Work" features Martin on lead vocals and bass, along with his band, The Glove.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm1LbEf3Amg

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"All That I Am" - Isabella

"All That I Am" 
Isabella
From the CD, All That I Am (2014)
www.isabellamelodies.com

Isabella's sultry alto is the lone voice on her vertical contemporary worship ballad, "All That I Am." Forward-moving strings and guitar-laced orchestration, all atop warm piano accompaniment, escort her as she makes a melodic ascent to the Throne, pronouncing, "To worship You I live / My heart to you I give..."  The song is the title track of her current project, available at iTunes.

Isabella is based in London and has several music awards to her credit, including a Nigeria Gospel Music Award for Best Female Artiste in Diaspora and an Africa Gospel Music Award for Artist of the Year (Europe).  She is the worship pastor at The Father's House International Church.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gladys Knight has gospel project in the works

Tehillah Enterprises announced today (July 8) that its client, R&B legend Gladys Knight, is prepping to drop a gospel album entitled Where My Heart Belongs. The release date is set for September 9, 2014.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Bishop Harold I. Williams, Patriarch of MCHCA, husband of Shirley Caesar, dies at 93

From the MCHCA site
Bishop Harold Ivory Williams, Sr., former Presiding Prelate and Senior Bishop Emeritus of the Mount Calvary Holy Church of America (MCHCA), Inc., passed today (July 4).  He was 93 years old. 

According to the MCHCA site, Bishop Williams led MCHCA for more than 37 years as Senior Bishop, succeeding the organization's founder Bishop Brumfield Johnson, before choosing to take emeritus status in 2008. Simultaneous to his leadership of the parent organization, he pastored Winston-Salem's Mount Calvary Holy Church, Washington, DC's Mount Calvary Holy Church, and founded a church in Baltimore, according to his bio.  At the time of his demise, he and his wife of 31 years, Pastor Shirley Caesar-Williams, were co-pastors of Raleigh's Mount Calvary Word of Faith.

Along with pastoring, Bishop Williams was an accomplished pianist and songwriter, guesting on his wife's projects Sailin' (vocals on "Time to Come Back Home"), Stand Still (spoken word on "Step Out") and Shirley Caesar Live ...He Will Come (piano on his composition "Our Father").

In addition to Pastor Caesar, Bishop Williams is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Elder Hope and Prophet Marc Mason, grandchildren, and a host of additional relatives, friends, and spiritual sons and daughters.  His son, acclaimed jazz pianist Harold I. Williams, Jr. preceded him in death. 

With bittersweetness, GMF bids Bishop Williams adieu and extends heartfelt condolences to Pastor Caesar-Williams and family.

Update (7/6/14 at 2:07am) - Elder Hope Mason has shared homegoing information for her father, Bishop Williams. She notes via Facebook that "the Friday night service is a musical memorial and his remains will be available for viewing from 12:00-6:00pm Friday afternoon, but not at the service."  Update (7/9/14 at 7:30am) - Elder Hope Mason has provided updated homegoing information for Bishop Williams. The latest information includes lodging accommodations (click image below to enlarge).

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Jones Family Singers "make a way" in music, film

Rolling Stone named the Jones Family Singers as a "Top 25 Must-see Act" at this year's SXSW festival.  Check out the video of their scorching quartet single "Down on Me" from their current project The Spirit Speaks, and you'll see why.  Besides Rolling Stone, the soulful family has garnered praise from NPR and Wall Street Journal.  Additionally, they've gotten the attention of filmmakers who are now interested in creating a feature documentary of the family's life on and offstage. 

An Indiegogo campaign is underway to help fund the film, The Jones Family Will Make A Way.  Find out more about the documentary and fundraising campaign, and most definitely watch the video "Down On Me" here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-jones-family-will-make-a-way.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Donald Lawrence asks for your support of The Thomas A. Dorsey Project

Professor Thomas A. Dorsey, Father of Gospel Music

(Springfield, IL)  The Thomas A. Dorsey Project is proud to announce the support of Grammy, Dove and Stellar Award winning recording artist, Donald Lawrence.

Donald Lawrence is an international songwriter, producer, music and choir director and gospel extraordinaire with a storied musical career.  In support of The Thomas A. Dorsey Project, Lawrence issued this statement:

As the Father of Gospel music, Mr. Thomas A. Dorsey has had a profound impact on me as an artist. In fact, one of the first songwriting awards I won as a young songwriter was the “Thomas A. Dorsey Song of the Year Award,” during The Thomas A. Dorsey Convention of National Choirs and Choruses. Mr. Dorsey not only paved the way for future Gospel artists, he laid the foundation for which our genre of music was built upon. All generations of musicians, regardless of their musical preference or style need to study the work and life of Thomas A. Dorsey. What better tool to learn the man than a piece of literature written by his own grandson, Thomas A. Dorsey III? Thomas is currently raising money via PayPal to facilitate the creation of this book about his grandfather. Please contribute to this cause so that all of us maybe allowed a window into the life of this musical genius.
The Thomas A. Dorsey Project is committed to protecting the image, works, and reputation of Thomas A. Dorsey while preserving the legacy of the most prolific innovator of gospel music. Dorsey arguably produced the soundtrack to the Civil Rights Movement. Dorsey’s songs have been recorded and performed by the likes of Sam Cooke, Albertina Walker, Clara Ward, Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, and Melonie Daniels, just to name a few. The project is currently in Phase 1 of its Crowdsourcing & Fundraising Campaign in which all funds received will assist in facilitating logistics such as research, writing, editing, artistic design and licensing necessary to complete a factually based narrative which chronicles nearly a century of American History.

The Thomas A. Dorsey Project is seeking to transform Dorsey’s life story into a manuscript, film and beyond. Please send all monetary donations to:


The Thomas A. Dorsey Project
c/o Thomas A. Dorsey III
P.O. Box 1825
411 East Monroe
Springfield, IL 62705

Online donations can be made at PayPal.

For exclusive content and photos please “follow” The Thomas A. Dorsey Project on Twitter @Dorsey_Project, "like" on Facebook at The-Thomas-A-Dorsey-Project, or visit the official Tumblr blog at http://thethomasadorseyproject.tumblr.com.
  

The preceding content is from a press release issued by The Thomas A. Dorsey Project.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bobby Womack succumbs

Soul singer Bobby Womack died Friday, June 27, at age 70.  Womack had roots in gospel music and cited R.H. Harris of the Soul Stirrers as one of his influences.  

Womack and his brothers performed gospel music before gaining the attention of Sam Cooke who eventually signed them to his label (SAR Records) as The Valentinos, where they made the transition to R&B.

Read more about Womack's life and music in the LA Times.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

B.T. Green of the Christian Harmonettes (1938-2014)

It's hard to imagine that any quartet gospel music lover in North Carolina--or anywhere along the East Coast--would not recognize the name or homespun traditional music of B.T. Green and Christian Harmonettes.  June 1st marked the 44th anniversary of the group, celebrated in Durham. It was a spiritually uplifting occasion, but one person was conspicuously absent: Mr. B.T. Green.  Just a few miles away, Green lay in the hospital, drawing strength from the prayer avalanche of beloved family, friends, and supporters.

Gospel singer and promoter Burmas T. Green completed this life's journey (June 21), after recent months of health challenges.  He was 75 years old.

Some of his enduring numbers from the Christian Harmonettes' recordings include "It Takes A Little Rain," "Love Lifted Me," "Reap What You Sow," and "Old Rugged Cross."

GMF continues to lift the Green family, the Christian Harmonettes, and Green's host of friends in prayer. 


Update (6/24/14 at 8:59pm) - The following announcement has been shared via B.T. Green and the Christian Harmonettes' Facebook page: 
Thank you all for your patience in waiting for the final arrangements of B.T.'s homegoing. The service will be held on Friday, June 27, 2014, at Union Baptist Church of Durham, NC. There will be a viewing from 12:00-1:00 pm. The service will begin promptly at 1:00 pm. The church address is 904 N. Roxboro St. Durham, NC 27701.
The service is scheduled to stream live at: http://new.livestream.com/MyUBCtv/events/2789071 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sandra Crouch and family request prayer for AndraƩ Crouch

Pastor Sandra Crouch and the Crouch family are requesting prayers and messages of encouragement for Pastor AndraĆ© Crouch.  A note from the Crouch family, shared at www.thelightnc.com, discloses that the 71 year-old beloved singer, songwriter, pianist, and gospel music legend "is facing some health challenges" and recently spent time in the hospital.  The note asks those who have been blessed by his life and ministry to cover him in prayer and to send him your encouraging messages and testimonies at pastorandraecrouch@newchristmemorial.org over the next 48 hours.

GMF will certainly be sending prayers up for Pastor Crouch, twin sister Sandra and the entire Crouch family, as well as the New Christ Memorial Church family, where they pastor. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Official Video - "Jesus is Real" - T-D.O.G.G

Check out the official video of T-D.O.G.G’s new single, “Jesus is Real,” featuring Rodney and Uncle Reese.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Melvin Crispell has died

Singer/songwriter/producer/organist Melvin Crispell passed today (May 29). This wave of heaviness is being felt throughout the gospel community as the news continues to circulate.

Melvin is noted for his work with Hezekiah Walker, James Hall and Worship & Praise, Tye Tribbett, and his own group, Testimony.  His popular compositions include "Jesus is My Help," "Wonderful is Your Name," "No Joy, No Strength," and "Caught Up In The Rapture."  

Our prayers of comfort are with Melvin's family and friends.

Update (6/4/14):  Over the last two days, there have been multiple updates issued regarding the time for the celebration of life services in South Carolina and New York.  GMF suggests confirming the information you have obtained by contacting Christopher King's Funeral Home, to whom arrangements have been entrusted.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

GMF, Bobby Jones remember Maya Angelou

By Libra Boyd, Founder & Editor
Gospel Music Fever

As a writer, educator, musician, and Black woman, I have been and will continue to be inspired by the life and work of Dr. Maya Angelou. Angelou passed this morning (May 28) in her Winston-Salem, NC home, at age 86.

Her breadth of artistic contributions (to dance, music, stage, film, TV, and literature) includes her collaboration with Dr. Bobby Jones and Vanessa Bell Armstrong on "Just A Closer Walk With Thee."  The hymn is a highlight on Jones' 1998 CD, Just Churchin'.

Dr. Jones' comments on the passing of Dr. Angelou were shared today in his emotional Facebook post below.

May an American treasure and truly phenomenal woman rest on peacefully.

Click to enlarge

"Kingdom Come" - Damion Murrill and Siloam

"Kingdom Come"
Damion Murrill and Siloam
From the upcoming CD, Take A Stand (Available Summer 2014)
www.damionmurrill.com

By Libra Boyd, Founder & Editor
Gospel Music Fever

Damion Murrill wants us to be mindful that "because we are seeds of Abraham, we are heirs to the Kingdom," and the single "Kingdom Come" from Damion Murrill and Siloam's forthcoming debut CD, Take A Stand, helps to facilitate the communication of this truth in radio- and choir-friendly fashion.

Damion knows good singing when he hears it.  He's been around it all his life. The singer/songwriter/producer's musical mentor Donald Lawrence knows good singing too; so when his path crossed with Damion's family group, The Murrills, the result was an affiliation with Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers and the eventual release of The Murrill's own project, Family Prayer, which earned Grammy and Stellar nominations.

It's not surprising that "Kingdom Come"--which features Damion at the helm of his own 16-member aggregation, Siloam--is Lawrence-esque, but it's definitely not disappointing either. Group vocalists Sasha Stackhouse and Pastor Darwin Murrill (Damion's brother), deliver the ardent vocals that distinguish this moderate ballad as the group's own.

Damion is presently the minister of music at Word Changing Hearts Ministries in Wilmington, NC, where his brother Darwin is the pastor. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Clouds' keyboardist Jason Britt and others die in car crash

GMF extends heartfelt sympathy to and prayers for the families and friends of Jason Britt, Dennis Battle, and Kyol Allen-Gailliard.  The trio was killed Friday in an early morning car crash in Rocky Mount, NC.

Britt was a keyboardist with the Mighty Clouds of Joy and at Word Tabernacle Church.  Battle was also a musician, serving at Word Tabernacle.  Allen-Gailliard, whose father is the pastor of Word Tabernacle, was the audio engineer at the church, according to WTVD.

Arrangements are entrusted to H.D. Pope Funeral Home.  Online condolences may be posted there as well.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

LaShun Pace talks to 'When We Speak' TV's Jermaine Sain

Jermaine Sain, creator and host of Atlanta's When We Speak talk show, recently interviewed gospel powerhouse LaShun Pace.  Watch and enjoy!