“Praise You” – Deyontay & Nu Direction

“Praise You”
Deyontay & Nu Direction (2022)
Available at Apple Music

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Deyontay & Nu Direction art work

Deyontay & Nu Direction, true to their name, take Maurette Brown Clark’s “I Just Want to Praise You” in a new direction, driving the praise and worship song up the quartet highway.

Their rendition of “Praise You,” written by Troy Felder, starts modestly – just a lead guitar, clap track, and harmonious vocals. Keys and auxiliary elements enhance the track as it cruises along. Deyontay & Nu Direction finesse “Praise You” while maintaining the melodic structure of Clark’s version at the “blessings and glory” turn. Once the group approaches the run, the song is a full-on drive.

Deyontay & Nu Direction meld the styles of praise and worship and quartet to present “Praise You” as a tasteful remix.

“Jesus I’ll Never Forget” – Zak Williams & 1/Akord

“Jesus I’ll Never Forget”
Zak Williams & 1/Akord (October 7, 2022)
Enon Music Group

Zak Williams & 1/Akord art work

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Pretty much any song with the words, “Jesus I’ll never forget” will charge a church atmosphere. Zak Williams & 1/Akord’s “Jesus I’ll Never Forget” featuring Lowell Pye is a banger in both message and delivery.

The song itself, written by Gabriel Sharpe, is reminiscent of the great choir music from the ’90s; and Stellar Award-winning vocalist Lowell Pye is just the powerhouse to take “Jesus I’ll Never Forget” to church, sharing his personal testimony along the way. The high energy of the choir is captured excellently as their enthusiastic, dynamic vocals leap through the speakers.

Zak Williams & 1/Akord, torchbearers of the “Philly choir” sound, are planning to release an album in 2023, from which “Jesus I’ll Never Forget” is the single.

“Walk in the Spirit” – Ellen Hayes

“Walk in the Spirit”
Ellen Hayes feat. Cynthia Gross
From the full-length project, We Owe It All To You (2022)

Ellen Hayes Walk in the Spirit cover art

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Ellen Hayes’ single, “Walk in the Spirit,” is inspired by 2 Corinthians 3:17. Using the scripture’s message, she has written a rousing song of instruction that her daughter Cynthia Gross delivers. Attention is easily focused squarely on the lyrics as both Cynthia’s approach and the music are refreshingly simplistic. Hayes is known for writing songs with lyrics taken directly from scripture, and “Walk in the Spirit” adheres to her signature writing style. The track is from her current release, We Owe It All to You.

Based in Michigan, Hayes is a noted organist, pianist, vocalist, songwriter, choir director and four-time Rhythm of Gospel nominee.

“Your Blessing’s On The Way” – Mary P. Coston

“Your Blessing’s On The Way”
Mary P. Coston (2022)
Available at iTunes

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Mary P. Coston Your Blessing's on the Way cover art

“Your Blessing’s On The Way” is a hand-clapper of a declaration from Mary P. Coston. “No matter what the devil says, your blessing’s still on the way!”

Coston shines in the verses of this number, where her staccato notes rhythmically punctuate the fast pace of the song. Though entirely tuneful, Coston also sounds undeniably preachy at times, particularly as the track ascends to its peak. Listen intently and her vocal becomes a mash-up of Dorinda Clark Cole and Cosmopolitan’s Dianne Williams – and I like it.

Coston is a native of Michigan and started singing at age three. She released her first single (“Jesus is the Best Thing”) in 2008. “Your Blessing’s On The Way” is Coston’s current single, written by Andre Cranford and produced by Gregory Pearson.

“Satan Is Defeated” – Jonathan Willis & Zion City

“Satan Is Defeated”
Jonathan Willis & Zion City (2022)

Jonathan Willis Satan is Defeated cover art

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Jonathan Willis & Zion City are giving Sunday morning pentecostal congregational praise with “Satan Is Defeated,” and it sounds to me like that’s exactly what Willis and the song’s co-writer and producer Patrick Shorts intended. “Satan Is Defeated” offers foot-stomping, hand-clapping, call-and-response, led by Willis. Zion City begins in unison before branching into three-part harmony in time for the vamp, making it a number that even non-singers will find enjoyably easy to sing.

The message is as simple as the melody: Satan loses and Christ’s followers win, for God’s Word declares it to be so. “I’ve got it – the victory!” the aggregation proclaims.

Willis is the senior pastor of Prayer of Faith Temple Zion City Church of God in Christ in Lynchburg, VA.

“King of Kings” – Monique Chambers-Watson

“King of Kings”
Monique Chambers-Watson (2022)
Available on all digital streaming platforms
Instagram: @monique.chamberswatson

"King of Kings" cover art - Monique Chambers-Watson

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Monique Chambers-Watson conveys her zeal for ministry in song through her self-penned single, “King of Kings.”

Jonathan Laws, the song’s producer, issues the opening declaration that “Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” After which, Monique guides the song along for its high-energy duration, encouraging listeners to lift high the Holy One. “King of Kings” is Afrobeat-infused praise and worship perfectly suited to kick off a live worship service experience.

Monique began singing at the age of eight. She continues as it is her desire to spread the gospel of salvation through her gifts. “King of Kings” is the Toronto native’s debut single.

“Higher” – Lady Kimberly Jackson

Lady Kimberly Jackson (2021)

Lady Kimberly Jackson_Higher_cover art

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

“Higher” is the self-penned single from Lady Kimberly Jackson of Houston, TX. Lady Kimberly describes herself as a trained vocalist whose talents range from being a drummer to a praise and worship leader. In 2020, her talent put her in the same virtual space as Karen Clark Sheard when Lady Kimberly had the privilege of singing for her live on Instagram.

Lady Kimberly makes her way through her own single “Higher” seeming to sing with the timidity of a budding leader in a church youth choir. Once I listened to the full track, I was convinced she must have been holding back in anticipation of the vamp because when she arrives, she delivers rounds of robust riffs and growls along with two key changes. Her background singers ascend with her: “Lord, lift me up higher!”

With a dream and passion to touch and change the lives of people all over the world, Lady Kimberly is well on her way.

“Better” – Faith Thompson

Faith Thompson_Better_cover art

Faith Thompson (August 12, 2022)

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

“Better” is a bop from the start. Written and performed by Faith Thompson and produced by Sam Williams, the entire four-minute feel-good groove is packed with declarations that underscore the pronouncement, “What’s coming is better than what’s been!” Faith does not spend time attempting to impress with vocal cartwheels and somersaults. Rather, she moves in lockstep with the melody, supported by her cast of background vocalists. The result is a singable uptempo song that worship teams and their congregations can enjoy together on Sunday morning.

Faith hails from Ottawa, Canada, and has been singing since the age of 12. She currently serves as the worship director at Ekklesia Kingdom Ministry Toronto.

“You Are God” – Loni Crawford

Loni Crawford_You Are God_cover art

“You Are God”
Loni Crawford (August 5, 2022)

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Loni Crawford joins producer Glenn “GK” Jones and the songwriter known as Key of “E” for the single, “You Are God.”

With lyrics that emphasize the manifold attributes of God, Loni sings passionately, “My healer, protector, deliverer, provider, life-giver, comforter, creator…” as the worship song marches forward percussively. One can rarely go wrong marrying the old to the new, and Loni gets it right by incorporating a stanza of the 19th-century Judson Van DeVenter hymn “I Surrender All” into the song’s bridge.

Loni is a Detroit native who presently resides in Birmingham, AL. GMF gave its review of her single titled “Foot of the Cross,” in 2020.

“Your Will Your Way” – Jewelstone

Jewelstone Your Will Your Way art

“Your Will Your Way”
Quickening Spirit Gospel Records LLC (2021)
Available here

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

After having tried to single-handedly navigate life’s hills and valleys, Jewelstone expresses their surrender to the Almighty through the contemporary ballad, “Your Will Your Way.” 

Most likely an intentional effort to keep the focus squarely on the song’s introspective lyrics, the music to “Your Will Your Way” is largely unremarkable, save for lush string orchestrations over a repetitive minor scale progression. 

The trio of Cunningham sisters, collectively known as Jewelstone, hail from Detroit and are presently based in Pensacola, FL. The singer-songwriters debuted their first album, How Awesome, in 2012.