february 2011

canton*The Album, The Mindset: Canton Jones on Dominionaire
By Bob Marovich

"This generation is dying and they need hope," says award-winning singer, songwriter, producer, vocal arranger and entrepreneur CANTON JONES. "We want to give our young people the truth and the truth will make them free." In his chat with our gospel editor Bob Marovich, Jones discusses his potent new album, Dominionaire, and why he wants his message to be ‘a family affair,’ appealing to all ages.

This month’s select recordings:
SHIRLEY CAESAR, A City Called Heaven—
The old saying is that everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there. So with the Mayan calendar suggesting that 2012 is the end of the world as we know it, there is a temptation to see irony in Shirley Caesar’s GRAMMY-nominated A City Called Heaven, because it handles subjects such as death and the Rapture with, well, rapturous enthusiasm.

WINDY CITY GOSPEL ON SOUTH COTTAGE GROVE: 1947-1959—When one thinks of Chess Records, what springs to mind are artists such as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Etta James.  Little Walter. The film Cadillac Records. But like most post-war independent labels, Chess/Checker carried a gospel catalog. Although its catalog really grew during the 1960s, after signing such top stars as the Soul Stirrers, Violinaires, the Salem Travelers, and the Meditation Singers, Leonard and Phil Chess’ involvement with gospel went all the way back to the beginning. All the way back to Aristocrat Records, the label they purchased that predated the company’s eponymously titled imprints. The two-CD Windy City Gospel on South Cottage Grove, with liner notes by Opal Nations, devotes its attention to these early Aristocrat/Chess/Checker offerings, released during the heady days of the genre’s Golden Era.

BISHOP SAMUEL R. JOHNSON, SR. PRESENTS THE SOUNDS OF LIVING WATER, Kingdom Keepers—It’s been thirty years of toiling in the musical vineyard, from writing and singing R&B (with the Determinations) to moving into the gospel music industry, but Bishop Samuel R. Johnson, Sr. is about to realize his life-long dream. This month, the pastor and founder of Living Water World Ministries in Dayton, Ohio will release a full-length CD, Kingdom Keepers, featuring the church’s house group, The Sounds of Living Water.

EUMIKA BODY-GRIFFIN, The Greatest Gift—During the opening track of her debut solo CD, The Greatest Gift, Eumika Body-Griffin shouts, “We come to blow the roof off this house tonight!” Yet the most interesting selections on the CD are when Body-Griffin, the Gospel Choice winner of Best New Artist for 2008, is not trying to blow the roof off the house. It is on selections such as these where the CD shows true character and distinctiveness.

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