Dr. Bobby Jones mourns passing of sister Lula Puckett

GMF sends condolences to Dr. Bobby Jones and family in the passing of his elder sister, Lula Puckett, who died Sunday, August 10, 2014, in Paris, TN. She was 79.
Services are scheduled for Thursday, August 14, at Allen Temple CME Church, 213 Warren Street, Paris, TN.  The funeral begins at noon with viewing for two hours prior. 
Rawls Funeral Home is handling arrangements.  You may share condolences there or by email to [email protected].

"B A Beacon (Se' Un Faro)" – Everett Drake

“B A Beacon (Se’ Un Faro)”
Everett Drake
From the CD, Amen Goes Right There! (2011)
Dherico Music

Everett Drake cover art

It’s not often that you get to hear something like “B A Beacon (Se’ Un Faro)” from Everett Drake.  The reason is that he’s usually seen churning out more traditional tunes with Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones and the Nashville Super Choir.  With songs like this quick-paced Latin jazz piece though, Drake shows that he’s quite capable of writing (along with the project’s producer Derrick Lee) and performing a diverse repertoire of gospel and inspirational music. 

Vocalist Kyla Jade and trumpeter Rod McGaha join Drake on “B A Beacon (Se’ Un Faro)” urging, “B A beacon, let your light shine!” 

"I Trust in God" – John Thorpe and Family

“I Trust in God”
John Thorpe and Family
From the CD, Child Of God (2012)
Available at CD Baby

John Thorpe and Family "Live" with Dr. Bobby Jones art work

Kudos to the groups and choirs of today that reserve spots for a traditional, minimally altered hymn or two in their otherwise trendy, radio-friendly repertoires.

McCollins Thorpe, Sr. solidifies this space for John Thorpe and Family with “I Trust in God,” an arrangement of the W.C. Martin hymn, “My Father Watches Over Me.”  It’s Thorpe, Sr., the eldest brother of the 14 siblings, whose vibratic tenor hinges on the upswings and downward slopes of every note to create a moderately slow but soulful number that baptist pastor Martin himself, were he to overhear from Glory, would give a nod to.

While John Thorpe and Family are a choir that occasionally consists of all 14 brothers and sisters plus a niece and nephew, their material is crafted with a traditional quartet-like vibe—a subgenre in which the Thorpe brothers, who are the primary lead singers, are firmly planted.  This is why Thorpe, Sr. is able to guide them from the flowing expressive verses right into a toe-tapping chorus and vamp with ease, adding just the right amount of spice to the sweetness of the early 20th-century composition.

Emily Harris of Bobby Jones & New Life has died

Emily Harris
Emily Harris, longtime member of Bobby Jones and New Life Singers and the Nashville Super Choir, has died.  Harris’s rich vocals are featured on several songs, notably “I’m in His Care,” from Bobby Jones and New Life’s early 1990’s release Bring It To Jesus.
Homegoing arrangements are as follows:
Musical Celebration
Wednesday, December 28th
7 PM
Homegoing Celebration
Thursday, December 29th
11 AM
All services will take place at Cathedral of Praise Church of God in Christ, 4300 Clarksville Pike, Nashville, TN.  Read the obituary as posted by Terrell Broady Funeral Home here: Emily Harris.
GMF extends sympathy to and prayers for the Harris family and Dr. Bobby Jones, New Life, and the Nashville Super Choir during this most difficult time.

Bobby Jones, Dottie Rambo get stars on Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville

Congratulations to Dr. Bobby Jones, who is among seven new inductees into Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame.  The ceremony took place Sunday.  Jones is celebrated for his longstanding contributions to the advancement and preservation of gospel music.  He is perhaps most widely recognized as the host of BET’s Bobby Jones Gospel, which has been on TV for more than 30 years.
Fellow gospel singer and writer Dottie Rambo was also honored posthumously with a star.  Rambo is known for her 2,500-plus compositions including “We Shall Behold Him,” “He Looked Beyond My Fault,” and “I Go to the Rock.”
The stars laud persons who have made significant creative contributions in the city of Nashville.
Jones and Rambo join more than 50 past inductees, including Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix.

McClurkin headlines McDonald’s Gospelfest, talks about competitiveness in gospel music

By Libra Boyd

Shaundria Williams contributed to this feature

This is the second of a two-part feature with pastor and singer Donnie McClurkin.
Donnie McClurkin
“If you take a drive through any community, you will see the golden arches,” speaks Donnie McClurkin of the most recognized fast food chain in the world, “and if you drive through any community, you will see the entity of McDonald’s…has been wise enough to discern that the real pulse of the community is the church.”
McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the New York Tri-State area on Saturday, June 18, 2011 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.  The auditions are complete and competitors are preparing to share the stage with some of the biggest names in Gospel including Kirk Franklin, Bishop Hezekiah Walker, James Fortune & FIYA, Bobby Jones, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and the one and only Donnie McClurkin.
The competition, originated in 1983, showcases talent in several categories ranging from soloists and choirs to dance, step, groups, instrumentalists and gospel rappers. 

McClurkin is headlining this particular talent competition, and he will soon be seen in the judge’s chair on another.  McClurkin, who has signed onto BET’s Sunday Best again this season, recently talked with GMF about the McDonald’s Gospelfest, competition in gospel music, and some of his favorite new artists.

GMF:  Please explain the appropriateness of competition in the body of Christ.
McClurkin:  I don’t see it as competition.  I see it as iron sharpening iron.  I don’t see it as us competing; I see it as me being able to draw from you or critique you.  If you’re doing something right, I want to learn from it; if you’re doing something wrong, I gotta critique it and I gotta tell ya, “Hey, hey, that’s not gonna work.”  Even with Sunday Best, we’re sitting there…a thousand people come past us in every city, and [we’re] sitting there going, “Next!  Oh my God, no–don’t ever sing again!  Please, don’t ever–”  It’s all in fun, but it’s also to make sure people stay in their lane and in their place. So from that level, there’s no competition.  
On the level of myself…Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, CeCe Winans, Kim Burrell…there’s no competition.  Donald Lawrence–no competition.  We sharpen each other, and we sit back and wait to see who’s coming out with what CD…and it inspires us to go in and do more.  So that keeps the fresh move in the gospel industry, musically.  It keeps us on our toes and it makes sure that we get the best of quality, because we don’t compete, we compel and we push one another to do better.
GMF:  Along the lines of iron sharpening iron, who are some of your favorite up and coming artists?
McClurkin:   There’s a girl named Preashea Hilliard; she’s got a great CD!  “Fresh Fire” is one of the greatest songs.  Then you’ve got Forever Jones–the whole family–mother, father and kids.  They’ve got a great song out called “He Wants It All.”  There are some great artists coming up that you have never even heard of like Brittney Wright, people like Maurice Griffin, and even Duward Davis, and the list goes on…LeAndria Johnson…they are the new guys coming up and it’s our job to make space for them….Kirk Franklin is pushing Isaac Caree, and I’m taking Andrea Mellini and pushing her.  So, all of us are taking artists and pushing them; Donald Lawrence took DeWayne Woods and Sheri Jones-Moffett.  We’re bringing up these new artists, putting them out in the foreground, so that we can disappear one day.
GMF:   The Gospelfest takes place Father’s Day weekend.  Talk to us about your father or father figure and the impact he has had on your ministry.
McClurkin:  Well, there are two. (Read McClurkin’s complete response Father’s Day weekend right here on GMF, where he’ll talk openly about his biological father.)
GMF:  Beyond the gentlemen that are featured in the Gospelfest, will there be community leaders that will be honored as men of valor?
McClurkin:  Possibly.  We always do something for people who’ve passed away like Walter Hawkins and Albertina Walker; so some people will be honored.
Tickets for McDonald’s Gospelfest can be purchased at the Prudential Center Box Office or through Ticketmaster by calling 800.745.3000, or at www.ticketmaster.com. For further information, please call the McDonald’s Gospelfest Hotline at 866.898.7772.

“Something to Live For” – LaShun Pace

“Something to Live For”
LaShun Pace
From the upcoming CD, Reborn (Available June 28, 2011)

LaShun Pace is coming off of a four-year hiatus to bring us Reborn, which drops Tuesday, June 28th.  Her single, “Something to Live For,” makes me not want to wait.

The tune, which has the Pace Sisters’ sound all over it, is Pace’s personal testimony, I suspect.  After all, the lyrics are telling: “I was ready to give up, throw in the towel. Sickness in the body made me so tired; even when I heard God’s word, I found it heavy to receive. I believed death was best for me, but the power of God arrested me and said I’ve got to live and declare His healing to the nations!”

After sharing from her personal experience, the powerhouse (whom Dr. Bobby Jones once compared to Mahalia Jackson) commands all who are faced with the temptation to call it quits to live and not die, for they have “something to live for!”

Live from Los Angeles – Vol. 2 – Beverly Crawford

Beverly Crawford
Live from Los Angeles – Vol. 2
JDI Records (2010)

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Recall Bobby Jones and New Life’s glory days and you will readily recall the voice that made the group a favorite throughout the early 90’s.  Several solo projects, a Grammy nomination, and a Stellar award win later, Beverly Crawford returned again in September with Live from Los Angeles – Vol. 2, and we can see she is still giving God the glory, ministering to His people, and singing us into frenzies.

The project’s opening number “It’s About Time for a Miracle,” set to what may as well be called “shouting music,” ignites the fire that burns throughout the album.  By the time “Miracle” graduates to its vamp, I can most certainly envision that Crawford and her audience are singing, praising, and pickin’ ’em up and puttin’ ’em down all at the same time.

Next up is “It’s So,” a tempo contrast to the preceding track.  Crawford, who serves as co-pastor at Gainesville Family Worship Center with her husband Todd, delivers the verses just like the singing preacher that she is.  By the song’s end, the preacher is in high gear, exhorting us in sermonette fashion to “name it, claim it, believe it, accept it–it is so!”

From there, she sprinkles a fair amount of quartet-flavored seasoning on the Doug Williams-penned “Born Again,” making the choir tune just right for down-home Sunday morning church.  She then reminds us that she not only can take us to church, but can also lead us into worship with the self-penned “For Who You Are”–easily the centerpiece of this project.

Another standout is “Everything Will Be Alright” (written by Shawn McLemore), the James Brown-esque groove with sassy, brassy horns for which Crawford and her friend and industry contemporary Shirley Murdock team up. As expected, the two make a great tag team, taking turns with the soaring lead vocals.  (You’ll likely be hearing them again on Murdock’s upcoming live CD/DVD.  See GMF’s related post here.)  “Serve You Well” is the beautiful ballad that follows.  Then Crawford is joined by her youngest daughter, Latrina Crawford, on “Radical Praise.”  It’s “I Need A Word” however, where Latrina’s vocality as a soloist shines.

Rounding out the project is “Marvelous,” written by Myron Butler and Ted Winn.  Crawford brings Murdock back in the reprise to riff over the climactic vamp, and the two have us headed straight into another frenzy.

With Michael Bereal and Professor James Roberson handling the production of this project, Live in Los Angeles – Vol. 2 encompasses all that we’ve come to enjoy about Beverly Crawford’s ministry through the years and affirms why she remains a force to be reckoned with among today’s female traditional gospel artists.


“Born Again” – “For Who You Are” – “Everything Will Be Alright” – “Marvelous”

Fever Meter
SMOKIN’ (4 of 5 Stars)