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Kurt Carr emerges after six years more determined than ever! | Posted July-24-2019

What You Need To Know

There is no way that any Gospel music fan, 
casual or die-hard, can not know who Kurt Carr is. Kurt Carr and The Kurt Carr Singers are responsible for life-changing songs such as “In the Sanctuary,” “For Every Mountain,” “God Blocked It” "I Almost Let Go" and so many more. He was the musical director for the late Rev. James Cleveland and later produced albums for Byron Cage, Tramaine Hawkins, and other Gospel greats. Being someone who has accomplished so much can be both a blessing and a lot of pressure. On top of that, Kurt lost his mother, Delores, and long-time ministry partner, Dorothy King. However, after six years of fighting through depression and loss, Kurt is back with Bless Somebody Else.



What it Sounds Like

Although this is an album with mostly new material, Kurt is not going to veer away from that signature sound and full singing that distinguishes him and The Kurt Carr Singers from other groups. The Kurt Carr Singers are a group of uber-talented and versatile singers who carry their own respective styles, but they are a strong, cohesive unit. Songs like “I’ll Make Sure You’re Lifted Up” and “Something Big, Something Marvelous” lead by Nikki Potts, are the fun uptempo anthems that will uplift Jesus and encourage believers. “With Thanksgiving” is infectious and even multilayered. The title speaks for itself and I was loving it from the beginning. However, the song goes from a bouncy number featuring a groove provided by bassist Nick McNack to a Latin-styled praise anthem and then they go straight quartet featuring some squalling adlibs from Roosevelt Griffin and Nakitta Foxx. Kurt, you did it again!



Spiritual Highlights

There are songs on the album that will help others through dark times, songs of praise and songs just to enjoy. “Bless Somebody Else (Dorothy’s Song)" features a who’s who list of Gospel and R&B artist who sing about getting their focus off of themselves, but serving and blessing others. Trusting God through a very tough storm is not just a cliche, but something that Jesus even illustrated to Peter.



Best Song on the Record

“Say All is Well” serves as a reminder that God is in control no matter what a person is facing. The interpolation of the popular hymn, “It is Well” was very well done and needed. Timiney Figueroa leads this song and she has a special gift for tugging at your heart when she leads ballads. “Grace Brought Me Back” was written specifically for Leandria Johnson; she drove this song and took it STRAIGHT to church! You can tell that there were some moments that were overdubbed, but Kurt had to keep much of her solo from the night of the recording.



For Fans Of

Richard Smallwood and Vision, Donnie McClurkin, Thomas Whitfield



Final Word

There is still a great need for the music of Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers! Bless Somebody Else is not a different "sound" for Kurt Carr, but there are new songs that will surely minster to become a staple for church choirs and praise teams. 



Available on iTunes and Apple Music




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LYA releases more music. | Posted July-11-2019
What You Need To Know: 

Lakewood Church's Young Adult Worship band (known as LYA) features a team of extremely talented singers, songwriters and musicians who minister together every Sunday evening. They also take part in leading the annual Hope and Life Conference held annually at Lakewood Church. This year, LYA released their EP, In The Name, Vol. 1 in conjunction with this year's conference. 



What It Sounds Like:

Tauren Wells sings the pop-tinged, "I've Got A Fire" which actually translates very well live. Being unable to contain the passion and joy that God puts inside is the theme. "Prince of Peace" is basically a psalm of reliance and security knowing that God has us in grasp. 



Spiritual Highlights:

The three song EP is about the beauty of a relationship with God while also wanting to share with others. It is peace knowing that with God things can change for good while also knowing that there is safety in Him even in the midst of a storm.



Best Song on the Record: 

"In The Name of Jesus" just speaks to me and serves as a reminder of how powerful the name of Jesus is. Ramiro Garcia really shines on these types of songs and driving choruses. This one shines and will be one to add your playlist and worship setlists as well. 



For Fans Of:

Hillsong United, Hillsong Young and Free, Elevation Worship



Final Word:

Do now allow the "Young Adult" aspect deter you checking this EP out. Looking forward to more from LYA.



Buy On iTunesListen on Spotify




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A "new" vocalist has emerged. | Posted July-11-2019
What You Need To Know: 

Michael Dixon may not be a name that many know, but in the cities of Houston and Dallas, Texas, Michael is well known and for good reasons. Michael is a worship leader for The Luke Church in the Houston area while also doing session vocals for several artists such as Gary Mayes, Nu Era, and Chad Brawley just to name a few. In addition, he is garnering a lot of attention for his songwriting skills. Not to mention the fact that he and good friend and fellow worship leader, Dayanna Redic, were on Beat Shazam, hosted by Jaime Foxx. Michael has a real smooth voice and brings another element to Gospel music. This is on display with his Walk on Water Project



What It Sounds Like: 

Although Mike does have a smooth voice, that does not stop him from visiting a variety of styles. Be prepared to nod your head and move to the reggae-tinged, "All of the Days of My Life." "Mighty Long Way" is a call and response jam that is just like the title suggests; a look at how far God has taken and changed Mike. "Show You I Love" is more of an easy listening song of gratitude featuring melodic background vocals and Mike's falsetto nicely complementing Deejay Lowrey's lower register.



Spiritual Highlights: 

The whole project is vertical whether they are songs of reflective gratitude, songs of worship or songs of faith in God. If you follow Michael on any social media outlet, he is a deep thinker with a funny sense of humor. So it is no surprise that he is heavy on applause given to God in retrospect and for things to come.



Best Song on the Record: 

"Hello Sunshine" is the first song on the album and it totally grabbed me at first listen. Even after listening to the whole album, it still stands out. The melody and the groove definitely had me, but his lyrics were the biggest reason why you add this to your favorites playlist. "I can see the storm coming to an end/I can see the rain right before it begins/I can see the sun breaking through the clouds/It's been a while since we've seen you/Hello sunshine..."



"Walk On Water" is just a beautiful song of faith that is well written and arranged. He gained much traction on Instagram with the #WalkonWaterchallenge. It registered with many on social media and maybe Michael Dixon should issue another challenge. 



For Fans Of: 

William McMillan, Brian Courtney Wilson, Gene Moore



Final Word: 

Take a chance on Walk on Water Project, a solid offering from Michael Dixon. This is just the beginning of great songs that are sure to come from him. When you start hearing more from him and seeing him more and more, remember that I tried to tell you. 



Buy On iTunes | Listen on Spotify




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Todd fulfills a dream and records overseas. | Posted March-29-2019

What You Need To Know:

There is just something about albums being recorded live in Africa. Israel and New Breed recorded their electric Alive in South Africa in 2005 and the energy and anointing were definitely felt through the album and DVD. Now, Todd Dulaney fulfills a dream of his by recording in South Africa and the result is To Africa With Love. He took his team, did some of his most popular songs and here it is.



What It Sounds Like:

Todd is a passionate worship leader who does songs for church worship teams and the church alike. “You’re Doing It All Again” is a new uptempo song with catchy elements that will fit well into setlists. Elements such as “oohs” that are call and response, synth rhythms popular in EDM, driving guitars and lyrics that simply praise to God are present throughout. The album also features a slowed down version of the tag which is a great transition to the slower songs in a praise and worship set list. Of course, he revisits such greats as “The Anthem”, “Free Worshipper” and the super hit, “Your Name Great.” The latter is continuing to make waves in churches across the globe. Todd highlights and gives props to Illia Jackson, someone who has been singing with him longer than any of his other amazing singers. They duet on “King of Glory.”



Spiritual Highlights:

Not to sound corny and cliche, but the whole album is a highlight spiritually. This is what an album dedicated to God should be. The goal is to lead others into God’s presence as this celebration in South Africa did for so many who were at the recording. Todd Dulaney and crew did just that. This is another album that can be added to your time of prayer and/or praise and worship.



Best Song on the Record:

South Africa’s own, Lebohang Kgapola joins him on “Victory Belongs to Jesus” for close to ten minutes of sheer vertical worship! Put this on and get lost in His presence.



For Fans of:

Israel and New Breed, Phil Thompson, Elevation Worship



Final Word:

Although you will not find an album full of new songs, you will find an experience of basically going to one of Todd Dulaney’s concerts/nights of worship. To Africa With Love did not disappoint in that sense.


Listen on ITunes / Listen on Spotify

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Another good one from a veteran artist | Posted August-19-2018
What You Need To Know:

He came into the Gospel world over twenty years ago when he sang "His Eye Is On the Sparrow" with the Mississippi Children's Mass Choir as a 12-year-old. He left many people (and kids like me) in awe that a young man's voice could be that powerful and high! He was a bonafide soprano. Fast forward to 2018 and Bryan is a licensed minister and one who has released several albums. To know that he has stuck with it as long as he has is impressive. Now he is back with a short EP titled, This Time.



What it Sounds Like:

Four quality songs make up this EP and he packs in an impressively good "bang for your buck." With Bryan well into his 30's, he has seen many changes and faced his share of challenges, so the title cut is fitting as he makes a bold declaration of how he is going to live stronger as a believer. The song is funky and upbeat and the synth bass goes well with Bryan's now baritone/tenor voice. "In Spite of Me" is a pop tune over a punchy drum beat that is both smooth and one you can nod your head to.



Spiritual Highlights: 

The songs are not heavy on mentions of Jesus, but very strong in showing Bryan’s reliance on Him. These are four tracks for the soul and will inspire during a time where Christians struggle with keeping up hope.



Best Song on the Record:  

Ballads do not always have to be the “best song” on the album, but “I’ll Always Love You” pulled at me the most. I appreciate the passion of Bryan Wilson and the straight-up love song he sings to God. He definitely has something with this wonderfully arranged modern day psalm. Some could even use this song to a spouse as it is apropos to a relationship.



For Fans Of: 

Dewayne Woods, Brian Courtney Wilson, Gene Moore Jr.



Final Word:

This Time is an appetizer that can really serve as a low calorie, but pretty filling, healthy meal. It shows Bryan in a comfortable place performing a more urbanized sound than churchy music and that is quite alright.



Listen on iTunes and Spotify.

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Something New and Fresh | Posted August-08-2018
What You Need To Know:

eOne artist, Will McMillan has been a worship leader and musician for quite some time now. He has written for and worked with, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Travis Greene, Jonathan Nelson and William McDowell just to name a few. He, (along with Jor’Dan Armstrong) will be part of Jonathan Nelson’s Make Room tour. Tenth child, Inc. (headed by the hard-working, Faith Anderson) serves as his manager, and he is surrounded and guided by excellence. His EP, My Story, serves as his first official release.



What it Sounds Like:

Will has a voice! It is a voice that does not rely greatly on runs and tricks, but his tone is rich. The sound of the album would have to be described as an easy listening CCM mixed with Gospel and a hint of country. Writing is relatable and easy to latch onto. “You’ll Never Leave” is an honest and thankful psalm of sorts. Will (who sounds a bit like soul artist, P.J. Morton) sings, “You’re so consistent at being consistent at Your ways./And I’m so consistent at being inconsistent each day..my ways” We can all identify with this truth. He gives his own spin to the James Cleveland classic, “Best Thing.” Strings are woven throughout the song as Will soulfully sings over this easily listening ballad. It morphs into a 70’s soulful ballad during the chorus.



Spiritual Highlights:

Lost and Found” has Will admitting he has been somewhat of a Prodigal Son and he is coming “home” into a full relationship with Christ. He simply desires to be closer to God than he was before he left. They go into a traditional Gospel tag when singing “Welcome Home.”



Best Song on the Record:

I would have to pick “See You” as the best song. From the smooth background vocals to the strumming of the guitars to the light percussion, this is one that I just sit back and relax to. Julia McMillan’s voice meshes so well with Will's that you cannot help but want to hear more from the two of them.



For Fans Of:

P.J. Morton and Jonathan McReynolds



Final Word:

Artists like Will McMillan are those who break the mold and do music that is true to their hearts. It is easy to go with a formula for what an artist more marketed in the Gospel genre should like. However, he is his own person with hints of people who influenced his love for music. My Story is an EP sure to make waves and one that many will embrace.



Listen on iTunes and Spotify.

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Just A Great Vibe | Posted July-31-2018
What You Need To Know:

Jonathan McReynold's new album reveals a dynamic voice and refreshing songwriting. He has quickly gained the ear and admiration of several CCM and mainstream artists. Factor in awards and accolades and Jonathan could easily rest on his laurels, bask in the attention and become a lazy, one verse/one chorus, writer, but he is far from that.



What it Sounds Like:

Make Room feels incredibly cozy and personal. This intentional “living room” vibe is basically an unplugged album chalked with memorable songs (and reprises). Songs like the relatable “Cycles (featuring DOE)” and “Better” will cause an introspective time of reflection that many great sermons serve to do. The arrangements are almost uncanny, leaving me scratching my head. The energy is high on “Great Is the Lord” and he takes it to church with the tag, “He’s just too good to just be good.” Tonya Baker and Corey Barksdale each get a “piece” as they add their respective adlibs. I cannot get enough of “L.R.F.(Keep on Doin’ Better)” featuring Darrell Walls and his brother Alic along with Latice Crawford. It is just a free-for-all good time as they incorporate a few different songs into this reprise of “Better”.



Spiritual Highlights:

There are so many nuggets and songs that take you from worship to getting your priorities to breaking hurtful cycles. Jonathan writes songs that are great for the “whole man.” He also challenges us to remember to keep Jesus as our top priority in “Make Room” while giving out total trust on the beautiful ballad “Lover Of My Soul.”



Best Song on the Record: 

Comparison Kills” is the most impactful song on the album. This ballad features only Jonathan on vocals and Andres Nordstrom on guitar. I find myself gravitating to this song because the lyrics are so identifiable and cleverly written in certain spots. Jonathan’s solid tenor nails it every time.



For Fans Of: 

Travis Greene, Doe Jones, India Arie, David Dunn



Final Thought:

Buy this album! It is so worth it and will make an impact on your life.



Buy on iTunes | Listen on Spotify


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A Worship Experience | Posted June-15-2018
What You Need to Know

Todd Dulaney has been singing professionally for a while now, but he definitely hit his niche with praise and worship. Leading worship is a well-placed space that God has carved out for him and Todd is sharing it with others. A Worshipper's Heart touched many hearts building momentum for current album Your Great Name. Label, eOne has been making sure that this album gets out so that songs can be sung worldwide.



What It Sounds Like

Fluid "night of worship" is what it sounds like. The syncopated rhythmic arrangements mixed with a CCM feel make "Fall In Love Again" a song that will grab listeners and make it easy to enjoy in a service. "Come Alive" is upbeat and the chorus is easy to catch on. Add this to your set list! "Pour Me Out" flows into the chorus of "We Surrender It All" (featuring songwriter Naomi Raine) which bodes well for those who want to sit and pray, soak in the Spirit or those who just want to give adoration. Todd's giddiness can be felt when introducing Nicole C. Mullen who duets with him on the ballad, "Father Be Pleased." She does not disappoint!  



Spiritual Highlights

Many of the songs are prayers that could be prayed in one's quiet time. In addition, they are songs that are vertical in approach, therefore, the spiritual connection is strong! When you hear lyrics like "Just wanna make You happy" on "Father Be Pleased," there is a certain relatability that resounds. It is not one that is asking someone to work super hard in to please God, but rather more of an "I love God enough that I want my life to be pleasing to Him."



Best Song on the Record

"Pulling Me Through" and "Stand Forever tie for the best song on the record. However, there are so many gems to be found.

 

For Fans Of:

William McDowell, Shana Wilson-Williams, Travis Greene



Final Word

Add this album to your repertoire and worship leaders should definitely learn at least one or two songs so that it can become part of the culture of their respective churches.

 

Listen on Spotify, Buy on iTunes



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A Gumbo of Sounds | Posted April-04-2018


What You Need to Know: 

Shine on Us is one of those "gumbo" albums that incorporates a variety of styles intentionally, but not clumsily. Nashville Life Church is a diverse congregation pastored by Alvin Love Jr. and his wife CeCe Winans-Love, so they wanted to incorporate the styles that represent the people in the church with the foundation being worship to Christ. Dwan Hill serves as the music producer of the album, with Rachel Hale, Hill, Alvin Love III and CeCe serving as the worship leaders. 



What it Sounds Like:

This is a stew of fun-filled music and lyrics of praise and worship. From upbeat R&B ("All Power," "My God") to the jumpy youthful ("Looking Up featuring Cece") to power ballad ("I'm Persuaded"), variety is an understatement. However, they have a signature sound that distinguishes them from others because it sounds like an actual service without doing too much "cleaning up" to the vocals.



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights: 

The title track has a great line that stands out: "Thank you for the change You've started / New heart for the brokenhearted." 



Best Song on the Record: 

"My God" is my favorite, and featuring Byron "Mr. Talkbox" Chambers was the right addition. The song soars to the next level once he comes in! 



For Fans Of: 

Deitrick Haddon and Hill City Worship Camp, Hillsong Young & Free, Covenant Worship, CeCe Winans



Final Word: 

This is an enjoyable and mostly upbeat album from Nashville Life Music. I'll be watching for Shine on Us Pt. 2, wondering if it will be more ballad heavy. 



Listen on Spotify or iTunes





 

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Fresh and Retro | Posted November-29-2017
There may be a new trend starting after listening to Cheryl Fortune's debut solo album.



Cheryl Fortune has been through a whirlwind of storms and things that would have broken down even the strongest of women. Cheryl was the "sound" of James Fortune and Fiya for many years, and she also served as co-writer on several of their colossal hits. Unfortunately, her marriage to James ended in divorce. Then Cheryl and her kids were displaced during Hurricane Harvey. With all that she has been through, the release of her debut album Simply Cheryl was perfectly timed. 



Producer/multi-instrumentalist Lucius Hoskins and Cheryl came together to form LuDawn music, an imprint under Tyscot Records. Hoskins intently listened to Cheryl's heart. Along with Cedric Smith, Terrance Vaughn, B. Slade and more, they were able to put together one trailblazing project. The new album has the feeling of the throwback jams of the past, coupled with the Pop and Urban stylings of today. 



Cheryl loves the "vibes" for 90s music, and she definitely takes us back to the late 80s and early 90s in songs such as "Nobody." This one has Cheryl channeling her inner Bobby Brown and Karyn White with the heavy drum machine and synth that was the epitome of a dance track during that era. She expresses her joy that no one can come close to loving her like God can. "For A Night" is my jam. This high-energy dance track has a hint of Janet Jackson's "Pleasure Principle," but you will not be able to get enough of it once you listen. Anthony Williams (B.Slade) wrote this one, with Terrance Williams providing the production and instrumentation. 



I am a native Houstonian, so "Don't Apologize" makes me think of my city with the trap/dirty south beat courtesy of Cedric Smith. Cheryl kills this one without a lot of tricks, carried by her sheer confidence and tone while singing how she is blessed despite what she has been through. The vibes continues with "Figure It Out," inviting us to sit back, relax and let God handle things that are beyond our control. Terrance Vaughn and B. Slade team up again to provide the music and lyrics (co-written by Cheryl). Steve Collins, Jr. throws in the icing on the cake: the talkbox. This is what it would sound like if the late Roger Troutman produced Gospel music during his heyday.



The lead single "Fighters" serves as a song of empowerment for those who need motivation to get up and push through any obstacle. Lucius Hoskins produces, bringing in a marching band to really give it an "anthem approach." One treat is the inclusion of Cheryl's and Lucius's children on the chorus. Cheryl gets real on the rock driven ballad "Lost in the Crowd," and then she tears it up on "Give It Up." On the latter, you really feel the emotions and the passion of her giving all that she has experienced to God. At her album listening party, this song brought the whole place to their feet, making it even more special.



The Bottom Line: Through her pain and struggle, Cheryl has birthed an album that is sure to start a trend of more throwback songs. This was just what the industry needed: energy, a few looks back at the joy of the past, fresh new sounds, a reminder of God's working in our lives and yes-- vibes. 



For Fans Of: Janice Gaines, Keyondra Lockett, Erica Campbell, Tina Campbell



Songs to Download Now

"Lost in the Crowd" (Get it on iTunes here.)







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