march 2011

By Bob Marovich

The church where Emmett Till’s funeral was held marks a milestone birthday

chuck wagon*GOSPEL NEWS & NOTES
The Gang Rolls On: Exit Dave Emery, Enter Jeremy Stephens: Now in its 75th year, the CHUCK WAGON GANG is still going strong, but change is coming around. Long-time bass singer and guitarist Dave Emery has fulfilled a lifelong dream by moving to Florida, where he hints he might one day be found singing gospel music again. Taking his place is 26-year-old Jeremy Stephens, who recently filled in while the Gang’s Stan Hill was away taking care of his ailing wife. In other news: Absolutel Gospel reports that the DIXIE MELODY BOYS are preparing for a July 1 release for their 50th anniversary album, The Call Is Still The Same. The Boys’ Gospel Hall of Fame bass singer and owner Ed O’Neal says: “It's been nearly ten years since we have done a project of this scale. It will be a milestone for the Dixie Melody Boys,” Another new album on its way is a bluegrass gospel effort by THE FAR CITY BOYS, who boast one of the genre’s great lead singers in Kevin Street. Yet untitled, the album is slated for a late summer release and will include the group’s recent radio hit, “I Have Been Blessed,’ with a new verse. “These songs selected come straight from the heart of The Far City Boys,” states bassist Kevin Michael Street.


munizziMARTHA MUNIZZI, Make It Loud--Is it me or does Martha Munizzi get even better with each successive CD? The Florida worship leader's latest release, Make It Loud, definitely lives up to its title. The opening selections barrel out of the starting gate as if powered by racing fuel. The title track and "Excellent" are stadium filling, high-energy praise and worship celebrations.

burrellKIM BURRELL, The Love Album--Grammy nominated and Stellar Award-winning singer Kim Burrell takes on a timeless subject in all of its manifestations on her appropriately titled The Love Album. The collection of ten songs deliberately blurs the lines, musically and lyrically, between spiritual and physical love. Here, the "you" in "I love you" is sometimes ambiguous and other times unambiguously cleaer. As Kirk Franklin commented, "Ms. Burrell is beginning to break down those walls of the church and the romantic."

bakerTONYA BAKER, The Live Encounter--Tonya Baker's sophomore album for Kingdom Records, The Live Encounter, is a great way to experience the singer. The Dayton, Ohio, psalmist is in her element leading a praise and worship service, which is essentially what this CD is.

jayJAY WHITE, Larger Than Life —The son of Bishop Jeffrey L. White, Senior Pastor of Brooklyn’s Greater Temple of Faith (“House of Judah”), Jay White makes an impressive solo debut on Larger Than Life, a CD anchored by crisp, jazzy musicianship that evokes the Winans' early work. Complex Take Six-like harmonies underpin White's omnipresent vocals that make frequent leaps into falsetto. The selections are love songs to the Lord, delivered with a conviction suggesting a love forged in the crucible of trial.

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