Chicago Mass Choir – My Soul Says Yes

 

Title: My Soul Says Yes
Artist: Chicago Mass Choir
Label: New Haven
Formats: CD, Digital
Release date: July 31, 2020

 

There’s truly no sound like that of the gospel mass choir and the Chicago Mass Choir embodies the very spirit and essence of this tradition. With thrilling heart thumping, hand clapping, foot stomping songs, the choir takes you back to the “old time way,” to quote the late Bishop G.E. Patteson (former presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ denomination). My Soul Says Yes, the choir’s 17th album release, continues this legacy through their creation of songs that further their mission of giving back to their community and the world.

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Various Artists – The Last Shall Be First: The JCR Records Story

 

Title: The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1
Artist: Various
Label: Bible & Tire
Formats: CD, LP, Digital
Release date: September 18, 2020

 

Rev. Juan D. Shipp was the force behind many Black gospel recordings emanating from Memphis, Tennessee in the 1970s. A pastor at the Greater Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church, Shipp also had a gospel radio show on K-WAM, where he spun gospel quartet records as “Juan D.” Believing that “local artists deserve a better sound,” he formed a relationship with Clyde Leoppard, a former Sun Studio drummer who owned Tempo Recording Studio in downtown Memphis. Shipp began recording and releasing professional quality singles for many local and regional gospel groups on his own small boutique label, D-Vine Spirituals. Soon business was booming, and he spun off a secondary label, JCR, for up-and-coming artists who wanted to press a record but didn’t make the D-Vine cut. Seventeen of these tracks are featured in The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1, which was produced by Rev. Shipp.

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Summer 2020 Black Music Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during June, July and August 2020 across multiple genres—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

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Deitrick Haddon – TIME (Truth Is My Energy)

 

Title: TIME (Truth Is My Energy) 
Artist: Deitrick Haddon 
Label: eONE   
Formats: CD, Digital  
Release date: March 13th, 2020 

 

Detroit native Deitrick Haddon launched his solo gospel career in 2002 with the album Lost and Found, which peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Charts and received a GRAMMY nomination. Since then he has released a string of critically acclaimed albums as well as singles that have been played extensively on both gospel and mainstream R&B radio stations. Known for  his  progressive, urban style of gospel music, Haddon is also the founding pastor of Hill City Church in Los Angeles and a former cast member on Oxygen’s reality television show Preachers of L.A. Haddon’s new album, TIME (Truth Is My Energy), has been hailed as his “best work yet.” 

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May 2020 Black Music Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during May 2020 across multiple genres—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.  

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The Legendary Ingramettes – Take a Look in the Book

 

Title: Take a Look in the Book  
Artist: The Legendary Ingramettes 
Label: Virginia Folklife Records 
Formats: CD, Digital 
Release date: March 20, 2020 

 

 Born July 4, 1930 on Mulholland’s Plantation in Coffee County, Georgia, Maggie Ingram worked in the cotton and tobacco fields with her parents as sharecroppers. She began playing the piano and singing in church at an early age and fell in love with gospel music. Later, she formed the quintet known as Sister Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes, a singing group that became sought after for appearances throughout the South. In 1961 Maggie moved her family to Richmond, Virginia, where she became known as the “gospel queen of Richmond.” Regrettably, Maggie passed away in 2015, but the group still presses onward in her absence.  

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Sam Cooke – The Complete Keen Years: 1957-1960

 

Title: The Complete Keen Years: 1957-1960 
Artist: Sam Cooke 
Label: ABKCO 
Format: 5-CD Box Set, Digital 
Release date: February 7, 2020 

 

After six extremely successful years as lead singer of the influential gospel quartet, the Soul Stirrers, Sam Cooke left the group in 1957 to embark on a solo career. Becoming one of the first gospel stars to go pop, Cooke’s gospelized-pop template paved the way for soul music. Just six weeks after recording his final session with the Soul Stirrers, Cooke released his first single under his own name, “You Send Me.” Not only did he manage to crossover on his first attempt, he took the pop music world by storm while also landing at #1 on the R&B charts. Over the next three years, Cooke released a quick succession of albums on the Keen label. All are faithfully remastered and reproduced with original album covers in this 5-CD box set, which includes excellent liner notes by Michael Corcoran, rare photos from the Keen archives, and complete session details.  

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Isaac Carree – No Risk, No Reward

 

Title: No Risk, No Reward
Artist: Isaac Carree
Label: Shanachie Ent.
Formats: CD, Digital
Release date: March 20, 2020

 

After a seven year hiatus, Isaac Carree has finally released a new solo project, No Risk, No Reward. According to Carree, the title of the album echoes his mantra: “If you never take risk, you will never get the ultimate reward.” So far Carree’s “no risk, no reward” behavior has landed him at #1 on Gospel Billboard and Gospel Radio charts multiple times, and his new release is likely to follow this path to the top of the charts.

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Reverend John Lee Hooker Jr. – Testify

Title: Testify
Artist: Reverend John Lee Hooker Jr.
Label: Steppin’ Stone
Formats: CD, Digital
Release date: February 14, 2020

John Lee Hooker Jr. grew up in Detroit, Michigan as the son of one of the greatest blues music icons in the world, the late and the great John Lee Hooker (1917-2001). As a bluesman, Rev. Hooker traveled the world performing with musical artists such as B.B. King, Snoop Dogg, Taj Mahal, Lenny Kravitz, Z.Z. Top, Buddy Guy and the late Etta James. After a long and successful career in secular music, Hooker became an ordained minister and is now singing a different tune—the tune of gospel—wrapped in his signature soulful blues sound.

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Renee Spearman – I Love Him

 

Title: I Love Him
Artist: Renee Spearman
Label: JDI
Formats: CD, Digital
Release Date: June 7, 2019

 

Billboard-charting gospel singer/songwriter/producer Renee Spearman has worked in the gospel music recording industry for over three decades and continues to champion her genre. After “standing in the shadows” for many years as a background vocalist for numerous popular music artists including Gladys Knight and Yolanda Adams, Spearman’s solo career took off in 2012 with the release of her successful debut album, Whoa to Wow!, which reached #4 on the Billboard gospel album charts. Her recent release, I Love Him, is yet another career highlight.

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Various Artists – Jubilee Showcase

 

Title: Jubilee Showcase
Artist: Various
Label: Time-Life Music
Formats: Digital
Release date: January 17, 2020

 

Chicago was the birthplace of two of the earliest gospel music television series. The half hour syndicated show TV Gospel Time aired on NBC Sunday mornings from 1962-1965, and a 2-DVD set of selected programs was released in 2010 under the title Soul of the Church. Now, ten years later, Time-Life Music is releasing “36 raw, live performances” from the more famous Emmy® Award winning series, Jubilee Showcase. Created and hosted by Sid Ordower, a Jewish civil rights and labor activist, Jubilee Showcase aired on ABC’s Chicago affiliate, WLS Channel 7, from 1963 to 1984. These programs introduced gospel music and Black culture in general to a much broader audience during the peak years of the Civil Rights Movement.

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New Holiday Albums: The Best of 2019

That special time of year has come around again, filling everyone with holiday cheer. But nothing has the ability to spread Christmas spirit quite like music does. Following are brief reviews of what we believe to be the best holiday albums so far this year, featuring releases from Keb’ Mo’, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The McCrary Sisters, Elijah Blake, Jonathan Butler, and Mariah Carey. We hope these selections provide the perfect soundtrack for everyone’s holiday season. Continue reading

Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection

 

Title: Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection
Artist: Various
Label: Earwig
Formats: 4 CD Box Set
Release date: August 9, 2019

 

Produced by Earwig Music Company’s Michael Robert Frank, Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection is hands down one of the best box sets of the year. The beautifully produced hard cover book includes four CDs inserted into the front and back covers, while the lavishly illustrated inner pages tell the story of the Chicago based independent record company owned by Narvel Eatmon, a colorful character better known on the South Side as “Cadillac Baby.” Frank began this labor of love in 2006 when he purchased the entire catalog and archive of the Bea & Baby label, with the goal of sharing Cadillac Baby’s musical legacy with the rest of the world.  The result is this comprehensive anthology which includes all released and unreleased tracks (with a couple of exceptions), ranging from urban and country blues, gospel, doo-wop, soul, and comedy, to rap. Along the way, Cadillac narrates his own story through six spoken word tracks interspersed throughout the collection. Other “expert witnesses” from Chicago include Jim O’Neal (Living Blues magazine), Bill Dahl, and Robert M. Marovich (Journal of Gospel Music), who all contributed to the informative liner notes. Continue reading