Chicago Gospel Legend Doris Sykes Passes

Written by: Gregory Gay

February 5th, 2016

GOSPELflava joins others around the country mourning the loss of Doris Sykes, lead singer for Pastor Maceo Woods’ Christian Tabernacle Concert Choir of Chicago, Illinois.  In a time when sopranos reigned supreme, Sykes had an inimitable style and held her own amongst the likes of Sarah Jordan Powell and  Hulah Gene Dunkin while serving as inspiration to newcomers like Lecresia Campbell, Felicia Coleman Evans and Tina Watson.

In addition to her unmistakable soprano, Sykeswas well known for her avant garde style of choir directing and decorum.  She served as choir director for Willie Webb’s Southside Community Choir.  Her recordings with the Christian Tabernacle Concert Choir of The Name of Jesus, Through It All, He is my Everything, I’m Waiting On Jesus, Through It All, Fill My Cup, It Pays to Serve Jesus and Just a Closer Walk With Thee are classic treasures.



Heavenly Joy: Big Things In Small Packages

Written by: John Burton Jr.

February 5th, 2016

Heavenly JoyBoth the live and television audiences were wowed at the close of this year’s Celebration of Gospel as Heavenly Joy stole the show with her rousing performance of Charles Jenkins’ #War.  The energetic 6 year old’s brassy bellowing voice equaled her personality and command of the stage confirming that “big things do come in small packages”.  Heavenly Joy is no stranger to tv, having appeared on the Today Show, Access Hollywood and America’s Got Talent; and she hails from a great musical lineage, her parents are super producer Rodney Jerkins and actress/singer Joy Enriquez.  She just so happens to have her own Twitter account along with a video for her version of #War featuring Charles Jenkins (which you can find below); the track is available for download on iTunes.

Reverend Clay Evans Heritage Series Offers New Music

Written by: Gregory Gay

February 4th, 2016

Great news for the Clay Evansmasses who love the authentic Chicago church sound. The Clay Evans Heritage Series compilation will feature vintage recordings that cover the 50 + years of ministry of Reverend Evans and the Fellowship Choir.

“Reverend Clay Evans is an icon, not only in Chicago but all over the world,” noted Michael Evans, CESF Chicago Chairman.  “Reverend Evans has touched the lives of so many through the radio and television ministry of Fellowship along with the numerous recordings and travels of the Fellowship Choir.  The Clay Evans Heritage Series gives us the opportunity to remember and relive the glory days of Reverend Evans and the Fellowship Choir from the beginning.”

Among the gems in the set produced by Fellowship musicians Royal Mickey Warren and Curtis Fondren is a never before released track of Reverend Evans and the congregation singing Trust in the Lord.  Warren remembers the recording as this: “We were at the end of his message one Sunday and the tape was rolling, he started singing and as the custom was, we went with him.  The church was on FIRE! Amazingly, it got left on the cutting room floor; and ended up going in the vault for some 3 decades.  We found it, listened to it and immediately thought this needs to be heard.  While Reverend Evans made this recording almost 35 years ago, the message is timeless and certainly relevant for the situations that we face today.”

Proceeds from the Clay Evans Heritage Series will benefit the educational initiatives of the Clay Evans Scholarship Fund.

GOSPELflava got an exclusive first listen to Trust in the Lord

Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass CD Featuring Damien Sneed Set To Release March 18

Written by: Gregory Gay

February 3rd, 2016

TAMBlue Engine Records will release Wynton Marsalis’ critically acclaimed Abyssinian Mass disc featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra along with Damien Sneed and Chorale LeChateau on March 18th.

Marsalis wrote the Mass in 2008 in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. In 2013, the JALC Orchestra joined Marsalis on a 16 city tour pairing the orchestra with the multi talented Damien Sneed and his 70 voice Chorale LeChateau for 19 concerts that stretched across the east and the south.   Marsalis shared these sentiments:”Many of the greatest jazz musicians today come out of the church. The church is one of the last places that retain the actual feeling of the blues in sound and also the call-and-response rituals that are central to our music”. “The principal fact of The Abyssinian Mass – the feeling that we want you to come away with – is uplift through the way that we all come together.”Damien and Wynton

In addition to the 2 discs covering 20 musical offerings, the Abyssinian Mass includes a bonus documentary DVD featuring performances, interviews and insights behind the music.


Written by: Gregory Gay

February 2nd, 2016

McdowellSound of Revival, the new CD from celebrated worship leader Pastor William McDowell makes its bow at #1 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart.  In addition, the album is #1 on the Top Christian & Gospel Albums (combined) charts,  #2 on the Independent Albums chart and at #46 on the multi-genre Billboard TOP 200 chart.

The Dove Award nominee and Stellar Award winner known for popular worship songs including “I Give Myself Away,” “I Won’t Go Back” and “Withholding Nothing” celebrates his third  album hitting the top of the chart and readies a national tour launching in the Spring.


Written by: Gregory Gay

February 2nd, 2016

Charles Butler New CDCharles Butler and Trinity sing a song of encouragement in their new single, Make It heading to digital outlets on Friday, February 5th.  Make It serves as the lead single from the DMV based Stellar nominated ensemble .  The song is penned by Sam Roberts and James “Jimmy” Johnson and produced by Daniel Weatherspoon.

Their sophomore CD, scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2016 will feature guest performances from Coko of SWV as well as Travis Malloy, Jarmel Evans, Maranda Willis, Jeremiah Hicks, and Brittney Wright.


Written by: John Burton Jr.

February 2nd, 2016

16 year old Kelontae Gavin made waves when his Youtube video performance of I Won’t Complain went viral, garnering some 575,000 views.  Marquis Boone , the mastermind behind the success of Casey J and social media sensation Bri Babineaux received a clip of his performance and immediately Kelontae Gavinbegan to make inroads to sign him.

It was a long process getting Kelontae to become part of MBE because of his age but after many emails, phone calls and conversations with his parents we are thrilled and ecstatic to be trusted with such an awesome talent and we at MBE are ready to position him to be a new breakout artist,” says Boone.

MBE is set to re release Higher, a single from Gavin’s 2014 digital EP later this year.


Written by: John Burton Jr.

February 2nd, 2016

Viewers are in for more love, life and a whole lot of laughs as BET announced the return of Its a Manns World, the reality series that takes us into the lives of entertainment power couple David and Tamela Mann and their family.david-and-tamela-mann

Set to make its second season premiere on February 23rd, Manns World will pick up following the family as they find themselves juggling  careers, church and community and family life .


Pastor Shirley Caesar Debuts New Music On Celebration Of Gospel

Written by: Gregory Gay

January 31st, 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 09:  Singer Anthony Hamilton (L) and Pastor Shirley Caesar perform onstage during BET Celebration Of Gospel 2016 at Orpheum Theatre on January 9, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Mark Davis/BET/Getty Images for BET)

The ever popular Celebration of Gospel makes its triumphant return to the airwaves on Sunday, January 31st.  Pastor Shirley Caesar is joined by Anthony Hamilton for the debut of new music in addition to paying tribute to Gospel legend Andrae Crouch who made his transition last year.

The new song, Its Alright, Its Ok is currently available on digital outlets and  is penned by Courtney Rumble and Stanley Brown and produced by Stanley Brown. Pastor Caesar spoke of her new music by saying, “It has been more than two years since I have recorded a project so needless to say I am very excited about my new release, ‘It’s Alright, It’s Ok’ that also features Anthony Hamilton. It is my prayer that you will be blessed not only by this song but all the others that will be featured on my upcoming release.”

Catch our pictures of the Celebration of Gospel here

Christon Gray Set To Release The Glory Album

Written by: Gregory Gay

January 30th, 2016

CG_GLORY_FINAL_300Mark your calendars for March 11th as Christon Gray releases his second solo project, The Glory Album on Kirk Franklin’s Fo Yo Soul label.  The multi talented rapper, singer, songwriter and producer topped the Billboard Gospel chart as a member of WLAK (We Live As Kings) with their self titled debut in 2013 followed by School of Roses,  his premiere solo album charting in the top 5 on Billboard’s R & B chart in 2014.

“Christon is one of the most exciting, young voices in urban music today,” says Kirk Franklin.  “We are thrilled to be able to partner with him to cultivate his influence in the flourishing Christian Hip Hop market and to expand his platform into the mainstream.”