60 Seconds with Rapper Mike Teezy

By Jane M. White
GMF Special Contributor
Mike Teezy is a rapper, singer/songwriter, musician, and dancer whose music – inspired by everyone from Kirk Franklin and Michael Jackson to Kendrick Lamar and Busta Rhymes – is creating a buzz throughout the gospel and urban inspirational community.  I recently caught up with him for a literal minute at the 2018 Rejoice Awards, just before he was announced as the winner in the Urban artist category.
Mike, how did you get started?

I started off with poetry.  I was always behind the scenes playing the drums and stuff like that.  Poetry was my outlet to relieve stress or whatever I was going through at the moment, and then I thought, why not put it to a beat?  So that’s pretty much what God started doing with me.

What is your latest album called?

I actually just dropped my new EP, Szn (pronounced “season”).  I dropped that on my birthday, April 7th.

And how can people purchase it?

It’s on Spotify, Amazon, Apple music – everything!

Where are you based?

I’m in Winston-Salem, NC at Faith Christian Outreach Center, where my father [Michael Tyree] is the pastor.

How can people contact Mike Teezy?

My website is www.miketeezymusic.com.

"I Found a Friend" – John Joyner

“I Found a Friend”
John Joyner (2016)
Available at CD Baby

John Joyner "I Found A Friend"

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

“I Found a Friend” is the newly released single from NC minister and musician, John Joyner.  Joyner’s silvery tenor lends itself to ballads, which he demonstrates in a pair of verses describing discouragement, dismay, and loneliness.  “When my friends, they turn their backs on me,” he sings, “I can say I have a best friend, and He’s all I need.”

“I Found a Friend” is produced by Brian Foster.  Joyner leads Order My Steps Outreach Ministry in Oxford, NC.

“Come On Everybody” – Greater New Hope Mass Choir

Greater New Hope Mass Choir cover art

“Come On Everybody”
Greater New Hope Mass Choir (2016)
Touch One Musiq
Available at CD Baby

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Greater New Hope Mass Choir in Oxford, NC is having some foot-stomping church, and they don’t intend to do it alone.  They issue an exuberant invitation to “praise the Lord…for He is good, He is good, He is good” with their current single, “Come On Everybody,” recorded live during a spiritual service.

“Come On Everybody” has all the hand clapping, horn stabbing, organ riffing, and tambourine shaking you’d expect in a traditional church choir song.  Punctuated by pulsating bass and the lead vocal of the song’s writer and producer Brian Foster—who is Greater New Hope Baptist Church’s minister of music and co-founder of the North Carolina Community Choir (Malaco)—”Come on Everybody” has Sunday Morning written all over it.

"Angels" – Judea feat. The Loving Sisters

Judea feat. The Loving Sisters
From the upcoming CD, Trumpets (Available Summer 2016)
MG Music Group

Angels art work Judea ft. The Loving Sisters

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Acts of violence, terrorism, and evil appear daily in news headlines around the world.  It’s a savage reality that Christian rapper Judea chooses to address in his self-penned single “Angels,” featuring The Loving Sisters.

Arpeggiated strings punctuate Judea’s lyrical imagery as he speaks of these atrocities and laments, “Dear Lord, if you hear me please save us; all these suicide killers is outrageous.  Taking innocent lives, they’re called ISIS; I guess they don’t really know who Christ is.”  Beyond the present social condition, however, he “can hear the angels singing in Heaven,” where suffering, death, and conflict are nonexistent.

Judea, aka George Pettiford, enlisted the music and production talent of Deacon Authority (aka Cedric Hester) and the supporting vocals of his biological siblings, female quartet group The Loving Sisters of Roxboro, NC.

"I Got a Good Feeling" – Tam Johnson and God's Favor

Tam Johnson and God's Favor Miracle cover art
“I Got a Good Feeling”
Tam Johnson and God’s Favor
From the CD, Miracle (2014)
By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever
Using alternative hip-hop group Arrested Development’s early 90s arrangement of “People Everyday” (which heavily borrows from Sly the Family Stone’s “Everyday People”) as their music sample, Tam Johnson and God’s Favor deliver a hefty dose of optimism with “I Got a Good Feeling.”  Johnson, the singers, and the band enthusiastically proclaim that everything’s gonna “be all right” over a mid-tempo groove.
Tam Johnson and God’s Favor hail from Wilson, NC.  “I Got a Good Feeling” is featured on their current CD, Miracle.

"On My Journey" – Clarice Hall

“On My Journey”
Clarice Hall (2015)

Clarice Hall - On My Journey - art work

Clarice Hall’s vocals are soulful and crisp—a lovely complement to the contemporary gospel styling of her mid-tempo single, “On My Journey.”

And just when her skillful yet unforced riffs get your head bobbing, she pays tribute to the old school with a turn of phrase (“Church folks sing it like this, y’all…”) that segues into a 20-second a cappella interlude.

Clarice’s vocal flair reaches across the genres of gospel, jazz, and R&B, and her music résumé includes performances with heavyweights in each genre.

Clarice is a native of Raleigh and a member of Word Empowerment Church in Durham.  She concurrently serves as minister of music at Durham’s Mt. Olive AME Zion Church.

"Nothing Better" – Corey J

“Nothing Better”
Corey J
From the EP, Worship is a Beautiful Thing (2014)
Available at iTunes

Corey J - Love is a Beautiful Thing cover art

“You never look at my faults / You never judge me when I’m wrong / You always pick me up when I fall…”

These lyrical sentiments support Corey J’s summation that there’s “Nothing Better” than the prevailing attributes of a loving God.   It’s a reflective lyrical journey for Corey J, whose life is a miracle itself. (He was born with no heart rate and no pulse, and amid other complications, was given little more than three days to live.) 

“Nothing Better” is one of four songs on the EP entitled, Worship is a Beautiful Thing.  With its unhurried pace and musical airiness, the Christian pop track leaves sufficient space for Corey’s melodic tenor vocals.

Corey J. Yancey is a native of Oxford, NC, and serves in music ministry at Christian Faith Center in Creedmoor, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Brenda and Co-Pastor Timothy Timberlake. Presently, he has a full-length project in the works that’s set to drop in June 2015.

"I WIN" – Steve Dalton & The Leviticus Singers of Charlotte

Steve Dalton & The Leviticus Singers of Charlotte
From the upcoming CD, As ONE, Release the SOUND (Available 2015)
Indie/SDM Productions
Available at CD Baby

Steve Dalton I Win cover art“No matter what you’re going through, God’s got His hands on you,” sings a harmonious cast of energetic vocalists known as Steve Dalton & The Leviticus Singers of Charlotte. The group’s mid-tempo contemporary worship tune “I WIN” is loaded with affirmations and is easily a theme song for overcomers.

Though “I WIN” is filled with positive self-talk, The Leviticus Singers describe their brand of praise and worship music as vertical, emphasizing that it’s from God and points others to Him.

“I WIN” is featured on the choir’s sophomore project entitled, As ONE, Release the SOUND, which is set for release in 2015.

Danny Yancey, NC educator and church music director, a finalist for Grammy Foundation award

Danny Yancey, NC educator and church music director, a finalist for Grammy Foundation award

Congratulations are in order for NC educator Danny Yancey, one of 10 music teachers selected from over 7,000 nominees as a finalist for the second annual Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation.

According to www.grammy.com, “[The] Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators
(kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made
a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education
and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining
music education in the schools.”

If Yancey is chosen as recipient from the 10 finalists, he will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the honor, attend the Grammy Awards, and receive $10,000.

Yancey teaches choral music at Martin Gifted & Talented Magnet School in Raleigh.  He is also the music director at Durham’s Monument of Faith Church. He cites his father, Pastor Willie Yancey, and his uncle, Detroit Yancey—gospel singers/writers/musicians and recording artists—as his earliest significant music influences.

Vintage music of two NC quartets featured on Swedish producer’s compilation CD

The Gospel Harmanaires of Oxford and The Carolina Kings of Henderson have songs on a compilation that highlights gospel music from 1959-1962. 

Best of Revelation Records, 1959-1962 cd artBy Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

The year was 2005.  It’s the year Sweden-based producer Per “Slim” Notini began collecting vinyl singles recorded on Bobby Robinson’s short-lived small, independent record label called Revelation Records.  Notini continued to unearth gems over the years and from his treasure has now produced and released a 27-track disc entitled Best of Revelation Records, 1959-1962,for NarroWay Records.  Among the singers featured on the golden era CD compilation are two NC quartets, The Gospel Harmanaires of Oxford with “Too Close” and The Carolina Kings of Henderson with “What A Blessing.”

“Too Close,” featuring James Thornton and bass singer Ray Gill on lead, takes off in uptempo fashion.  It’s a contrast to Alex Bradford’s composition of the same name, which was popularized by quartets like the Brooklyn Allstars and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. 

A few tracks later, paradoxical to its title, “What A Blessing” opens noticeably somber with organ and the tremolo-heavy guitar of the song’s writer, George Hargrove.  Soon enough though, listeners are captured by Lonnie Heggie’s resonant tenor and the sturdy backing vocals of The Kings.  Not unusual for songs of the era, the track length falls 15 seconds short of the three-minute mark.  Given the immediate attention the music and vocals command despite the song’s brevity, “What A Blessing” sounds like it might have been a perfect opening number for The Kings’ concerts.

The CD is accompanied by essay liner notes and photos compiled and composed by Notini about Revelation Records, Bobby Robinson, and the label‘s producer John Bowden.  The essay also contains photos and bios on most of the featured artists.  Notini says he regrets not having any information about the Harmanaires and The Kings at the time his notes were written.  Scouring the Internet yielded no biographical information on either group.

Hargrove, the founder and only surviving original member of The Carolina Kings, talked with GMF about his group’s 61-year history (the group was formed in 1952) and original members (General Rainey, Goodrich Rainey, Prince Moore, William Nowell, and Hargrove). He also recalls appearing frequently on programs with The Gospel Harmanaires, but he believes all the group’s members have now passed on.

Hargrove is thrilled that his group’s music has been preserved and presented in this format.  This is just one of at least 27 reasons Best of Revelation Records, 1959-1962 is a gospel collector’s joy.  If not for the efforts of Per “Slim” Notini, such gems would very likely remain hidden from the present-day generation of traditional gospel enthusiasts.