"I Know Who I Am" – Michelle Williams

“I Know Who I Am”
Michelle Williams
Available at CD Baby

Michelle Williams asserts her identity in Christ in the aptly titled single, “I Know Who I Am.”  Throughout the uptempo praise declaration, Williams testifies to being an overcomer: “‘Cause I’m a victor / Yes I’m a winner / In the presence of my foes, He makes me dinner / I’m a champion / A kingdom heir / Don’t be mad at me ’cause favor ain’t fair!”

Accented with punchy bass, exploding drum licks, and hammering horns, “I Know Who I Am” is right at home on playlists alongside contemporary praise artists like Martha Munizzi.

"Absolutely, Positively" – Shaunda

“Absolutely, Positively”
From the upcoming CD, Sweet Smelling Savour
Available at Shaunda Music

“Absolutely, Positively” is for lovers.  With only piano accompaniment–which Rashaunda McNeil, known simply as Shaunda, plays when performing live–and tender background vocals, Shaunda takes us on an acoustic stroll through the intense emotion of a fulfilling love affair.

You see, this sister is in love.  Just ask her, and she’ll tell you about “JC.”  Shaunda will even tell you how He gave her the inspiration for this neo-soul worship ballad.

“I was playing around with some beautiful chords in the practice room of [North Carolina] A&T’s music room, and I asked the Lord to give me some words. As I was playing I saw the phrase ‘ABSOLUTELY no eating or drinking in this room’–no joke,” she laughs.  “Then I said to myself, ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY.  From there, the words to ‘Absolutely, Positively’ flowed out….Even though seeing the word ‘absolutely’ sparked a start, I honestly believe the lyrics that flowed were in my heart already, from a life of worship to God.”

Whether ministering with Kim Burrell and Earnest Pugh, opening for Mali Music at a neo-soul gathering, serenading couples on their nuptial day, or working within the music and young adult ministries at Cornerstone Christian Community Church (her home base in Oxford, NC), it’s clear that worship is the essence of her being and therefore the thrust of her ministry to others.

“Absolutely, Positively” is currently available at Shaunda Music.  The full-length project, Sweet Smelling Savour, is currently being completed; GMF will keep you posted.

Sizzlin’ This Week (4/25/11) – “A God Somewhere”

“A God Somewhere”
Inez Andrews and the Andrewettes featuring Liz Dargan
Originally released on the Songbird Records label
Available as an mp3 download on Amazon

It is terribly hard to beat the hardcore, organic sounds of gospel music from its Golden Era and the years that immediately follow.  This week, trust me when I tell you this sizzler is a T-H-R-O-W-B-A-C-K!

Inez Andrews is known as one of the dynamos of the legendary Caravans.  Her wailing (and often shrieking) lead on Caravans numbers such as “I’m Not Tired Yet,” “I’m Willing to Wait,” and “Oh Mary Don’t Weep” helped to solidify the group’s position as one of the most successful female groups of the era.  In the early 1960’s, Andrews branched out, forming her own group called Inez Andrews and the Andrewettes.  This week’s sizzler features her group with the belting contralto of Liz Dargan on lead.  (In another spin-off, Dargan also eventually left the Andrewettes to form her own group, the Gospelettes.  They too were signed to Songbird Records.)

“A God Somewhere” was released on the album called The Need of Prayer (1963) and as a 7-inch vinyl single in 1965.  While it is going to be difficult to find in these formats, you can download it as an mp3 on Amazon.

(Photo: Inez Andrews, right, and the Andrewettes with Liz Dargan on lead)

Official Music Video by K-Praise – "Count Your Blessings"

“Count Your Blessings” Official Music Video (2011)
I AM Records

K-Praise’s new hip-hop music video, “Count Your Blessings” is an attention-grabber for sure.  The eye-catching graphics, fast-paced transitions, and creative logo parodies will hold your interest, but it’s the lyrical flow and content that’ll have you and your mama bobbing your heads and naming your blessings right along with the young Oklahoma-based gospel rapper.

K-Praize, born Kevieion Johnson, made his recording debut in 2004, and was given his stage name (which stands for Kevieion Praising God) shortly thereafter.

The “Count Your Blessings” audio track is one of sixteen on K-Praise’s current CD release, Kingdom Certified (Reinforced).  The project is available at iTunes.  The official music video is below.

Editor’s Picks of the (Easter) Season

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Easter is, by many, one of the most celebrated seasons in the Christian liturgical year.  Consequently, it is no surprise that there is an abundance of glorious gospel music to match.

It was excruciating, but I did it: I limited my picks to ten classic (or destined to be classic) gospel recordings.  In random order, here are my favorites for one of the most wonderful times of the year:

He Was Hung Up for My Hangups
Twinkie Clark
From Home Once Again: Live in Detroit (2004)
No Fault
Lee Williams & The Spiritual QC’s
From Good Time (2000)
Albertina Walker CD artOh Lord Remember Me
Albertina Walker
From Songs of the Church (1997)
The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power
Andrae Crouch
From Take the Message Everywhere (1969)
Jesus Paid It All
Margaret Allison & The Angelic Gospel Singers
From Lord You Gave Me Another Chance (1989)
The Blood Still Has Miraculous Power
Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr Singers
From Awesome Wonder (2001)
Medley: There’s A Fountain/Room at the Cross for You/The Old Rugged Cross
Shirley Caesar
From Hymns (2001)
O The Blood
New Jersey Mass Choir
From Hold Up the Light (1987)
Walter Hawkins & The Love Center Choir
From Love Alive V – 25th Anniversary Reunion (1998)
Blood Medley
Donnie McClurkin
From Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs (2005)


Sizzlin' This Week (4/18/11) – "I Know It Was the Blood"

“I Know It Was the Blood”
Smokie Norful feat. Joe Ligon & the 12th District AME Mass Choir
From the CD, How I Got Over…Songs That Carried Us (2011)
EMI Gospel

Regardless of whose project he’s featured on, it’s safe to say that if Joe Ligon is singing, it’s going to be churchy.

Well, this time the quartet legend teams up with the phenomenal Smokie Norful, and just right for the Lenten season is their rendering of “I Know It Was the Blood,” on Norful’s How I Got Over…Songs That Carried Us.  Church is exactly where they take you, singing about the blood of Jesus with such conviction that you have the impression that they were eyewitnesses to that dark hour at Calvary.

"Shine On Me" – Mary Griffin

“Shine On Me”
Mary Griffin
Walker Entertainment Group / Mahogany Music (2011)
Available at CDBaby

Nothing stirs your soul like an oldie, and Mary Griffin delivers “Shine On Me” with the fervor that this soul-stirring spiritual requires.  To say that Griffin’s voice is powerful is an understatement.  It is soulful.  It is unique.  It is full of expression.  Hearing her belt out this number takes me back to my childhood days in the Baptist church when, just before leading the worshipers in prayer, the church mothers would make their way to the altar petitioning God, “Let the light from the lighthouse shine on me.”

Griffin is very much in her zone performing soulful music.  She is currently touring with George Clinton and Patti LaBelle, and one of her songs, “I Surrender,” was re-recorded by Celine Dion.

Is there any doubt that the light is shining on her?

Sizzlin' This Week (4/11/11) – "Covered By the Blood"

“Covered By the Blood”
Southern Harmoneers
From the CD, Covered By the Blood (2011)
Available at CDBaby

Over an instrumental blend accented mainly by organ, piano, and the distinct twang of a pedal steel guitar, the Southern Harmoneers tell the blessed story of being “Covered By the Blood.”  This mid-tempo southern gospel song has nuances of the hymn, “Will The Lord Remember Me?” and will work beautifully for both male choir and quartet voicings.

The Southern Harmoneers, whose arrangements are somewhat similar to the Jackson Southernaires and the Dixie Hummingbirds, earned top honors this year in Ruston, LA’s Dixie Horizon Entertainer Search.  Current group members are carrying on the legacy of family and friends who began singing in 1940’s as the Golden Jubilees Quartet.

Sizzlin’ This Week is the GMF editor’s gospel music pick of the week from her personal playlist.  Every style. Every era.

"Heaven Hear My Heart" – Trin-i-tee 5:7

“Heaven Hear My Heart”
Trin-i-tee 5:7
From the CD, Angel and Chanelle (Available May 31, 2011)
The second single from Trin-i-tee 5:7’s upcoming CD is out.  “Heaven Hear My Heart,” though heavy on strings and percussion and light on lyrical depth, has the urban flavor that typifies the Trin-i-tee 5:7 sound. 
The CD, Angel and Chanelle, has a street date of May 31.  The CD’s first single, “Over and Over,” written by PJ Morton, debuted at #24 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Song chart.

Sizzlin' This Week (4/4/11) – "In His Name"

“In His Name”
John K. Thorpe
From the CD, In His Name (2007)
Available at Apple Music

Simple musical accompaniment and the opening lyric, “Let us take this bread together in His name,” introduce this worshipful Communion selection.  By the time John Thorpe arrives at the second verse, “Lord, they drove nails in Your hands; they drove a nail in Your feet, but Lord you knew that wasn’t enough to save me,” it is apparent that this is a beautifully written song of reflection and gratitude fitting for the Easter season too.
Thorpe provokes us to remembrance of the sacrifices of Jesus and the power of His name.  By the song’s end, the listener’s heart is filled with thanksgiving and the atmosphere is filled with worship.

Sizzlin’ This Week is the GMF editor’s gospel music pick of the week from her personal playlist.  Every style. Every era.