Churchy Christmas/Joy to the World – Beverly Crawford & JDI Christmas

Beverly Crawford and JDI Christmas
Churchy Christmas / Joy to the World
JDI Records (2012)
By Libra Boyd

You need not hear anything beyond this CD’s opening track to understand exactly why it’s called Churchy Christmas.

If your spirits need uplift this holiday season, Beverly Crawford and her labelmates at JDI Records have just what you need. Crawford herself kicks off Churchy Christmas with “Joy to the World,” a traditional Christmas carol recorded live in Dallas that she transforms into a high energy fire-starter. She’s backed by the 200-voice Antioch Fellowship Voices of Praise. (GMF recently shared the official video.)  The scorcher is followed by Shanika Bereal’s “Precious Lamb of God” and Gary Mayes and Nu Era’s “Don’t 4get the Baby,” featuring the sensational Nakitta Clegg Foxx (of the Kurt Carr Singers).  Both selections stand out beautifully for tenderly rendered vocals.

But it’s not just the ladies who deliver on this project.  Professor James Roberson ministers a flawless interpretation of the BeBe Winans ballad “I Wanna Be More,” and Patrick Lundy and The Ministers of Music sprinkle in some Yuletide funk with the bouncy “Emmanuel” (written by Cedric Thompson).  Earnest Pugh comes along and serenades the Savior on the jazzy “Hosanna” (which hints ever so slightly to Kool & the Gang’s “Joanna”), elevating the chorus after announcing, “I feel a key change in the house right here!” There’s still room for one more drive though, and that belongs to Chester D.T. Baldwin on “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” backed by a jubilant choir and band as he takes us on modulation after modulation.
Genita Pugh (“Holy to the Lamb”) and saxophonist Donald Hayes (“What Child Is This”) round out Churchy Christmas, making this CD one of the nicest and churchiest I’ve heard this season.
“Joy to the World” – “Don’t 4get the Baby” – “Holy to the Lamb”

Fever Meter

SMOKIN’ (4 of 5 Stars)

Video – “Can’t Live” – Genita Pugh

Related Story
My Purpose – Genita Pugh

My Purpose – Genita Pugh

Genita Pugh
My Purpose
Eternity Records (2011)

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

You won’t hear any vocal acrobatics on Genita Pugh’s current CD.  What you will hear, though, is the heart of a pastor with a passion for her purpose: worship.  My Purpose is a most fitting title for the no-frills alto vocalist’s current project.

The set opens with “Can’t Live,” borrowed from R. Kelly’s “Can’t Sleep.”  From there, “Open My Eyes,” “You Were There for Me,” and “In the Presence of the Lord” deliver a pleasant listening and worship experience.  “Who Can?” does the same, albeit with an uptempo head-bobbing bounce.

Pugh doesn’t neglect her roots, though.  The founder and pastor of Original Worship Ministry has old-fashioned church Mississippi-style with her self-penned toe-tapper “All the Ways of You” and the mid-tempo “Die to Myself.”  Even with this pair of tunes, Pugh stays in her lane–avoiding feverish riffs and vocal cartwheels–supporting the adage that less is sometimes more.  She does give some oomph to the urbanesque “Do You Love the Lord?” an upbeat track accented with beastly slap bass and mean horn swells.

Produced by James Roberson (JDI Music), this project melds nice selections, good writers and musicians, and a singer who is grateful to know her purpose.

“Can’t Live” – “Open My Eyes” – “In the Presence of the Lord”

Fever Meter
SIMMERIN’ (3 of 5 Stars)