Archive for December, 2015

Masterpiece – Deitrick Haddon

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Deitrick Haddon
A twenty year music career is the dream of many artists of ANY genre. Some artists never make it past a debut album, let alone overcome what is called the “sophomore jinx”. Then there is the widely witnessed “artistic identity crisis” that we see when artists attempt to maintain relevance, only to overstay their musical welcome.

Let’s not forget the occasional public scandal and/or breakup that was the inspiration for that career rejuvenating album that refocuses the artist into the next 2 or 3 hit albums, then establishing the artist as a time-tested veteran, wiser, strong, harder working, legacy-building genius respected by nearly everyone’s ear their work touches!

But none of that happens in Gospel Music right? Enter Masterpiece,Deitrick Haddon‘s 13th (14th if you count LXW) studio effort. A 17-track, well-rounded offering commemorating the next step in Haddon’s unfinished life process.

CDKicking off the album is the title track ‘Masterpiece’ which sets the tone for the first act of this project, and is a nice recap of life from last album to present, in song form, with heavy bass, and strong urban feel. In fact, the next 2 tracks (“Sinner” and “Running”) have the same sonic feel, which might turn an ear or two, but this is to be expected on any Deitrick Haddon album. So before I scare some of the more traditional gospel music listeners away, let me assure you – the tone does shift gears.

The album kicks into a lighter, more fun vibe, yet maintaining its message with ‘Be Like Jesus’ with its sing-along chorus, and hand-clapping groove -classic Deitrick mode. Fans of earlier works will love this one.

Continuing with the fun feel is ‘Do It for Love’, a song that can easily be inserted into any Chicago Steppers playlist. Its coolest element is the talkbox intro, which is becoming popular in modern artistic music (see Christon Gray’s ‘The Last Time’ or Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide n Seek’), and is a creative piece that allows the song to stand out.

An R&B feel is inserted with “Perfect Storm” which talks about God’s way of putting you where you need to be, another track that is signature DH.

The album continues to add a demographic ear each time you start to think to yourself “well, what about people who like [insert gospel sub-genre]?” All bases seem to be covered in this project. Even, dare I say, “churchy” songs such as “Under Control” and “Lay it Down” with the organ-laid sermonic-solo-like intro which builds into an epic climax. (Someone’s choir will be rehearsing this not long after it’s heard.)

Haddon has not lost his touch, and the sound that made him a household Gospel Music name is still very much present with songs like “Walls are Coming Down”, “Testify” and the lead single, “Restore Me Again”. Some of the grittier tracks like “The Jesus Anthem” (featuring UK rapper Guvna B) add the Millennial flavor that is needed without excessive “turn up.”

There are elements of this album may be a turn-off to some, but there are so many good songs that you will allow those elements to grow on you. It reaches the streets and the pews in terms of sound, and the message of redemption, hope, and overcoming are evident throughout every single selection. This is a CD that will keep peace in the car on a family drive due to it’s hip hop to church feel, and can soundtrack whatever busy activity you have going. It’s a must have for your collection, and just plain good.

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Production: Deitrick Haddon
album release date: Nov 6, 2015
Entertainment One

— review by Andre Griffith


Destined to Win – Karen Clark Sheard

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Karen Clark Sheard
Destined To Win

Destined to Win, the sixth solo project from Karen Clark Sheard(and the second solo effort on her Karew Records label) gives die-hard KCS fans what they long for; the singer poised to deliver in an environment where she feels most comfortable and working with a production team helmed by Donald Lawrence and Daniel Weatherspoon. With a proven track record, this disc has all the moving parts turning in the same direction.

CDThere was no better place for the recording than Chicago’s House of Hope, and the people came from the four corners to bear witness to the event (see our recap and pictures here). The recording does a great job in recreating the evening.

A new cover ofDonald Lawrence‘s “We Acknowledge You” (from The Heavens are Telling) makes its return for this edition in addition to “Only Call on Jesus” (from the Second ChanceCD). Karen masterfully interprets Richard Smallwood‘s “The Resurrection” before breaking into preacher/prophet mode.

By now, everyone is comfortable with “My Words Have Power” (the radio edit), but the CD version is an 8 minute, no-holds-barred charge with Prophet Karen peppering each call and response with the words of life. She exhorts the audience “not to let life shut your mouth” and “don’t tell God about your mountain, but tell your mountain about God.” She even speaks into home and family life (and even a gold record for herself). By the time the song comes to an end, its time for a dance, which leads into Donisha Ballard‘s praise Him while you can and take breaks only if you have to chorus, (it’s) “Already Looking Better”.

Honorable mentions go to the Oscar Williams‘ penned “The Worst Is Over” (which is a stop, think and thank God by clearing your row to get your run in when the song is over type song).

And for all the Walmart shoppers, there is the infamous Andrae Crouch classic “Where Jesus Is” that was the actual talk of the session. It is featured on the deluxe edition with a pass the mic sequence that features Kim McFarland and Kierra Sheard and then closes with a fan favorite rousing rendition from the Detroit divas, The Clark Sisters.

In the end, we definitely have a winner!

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Production: Various
album release date: July, 2015
Karew Records
— review by Gregory Gay

On Pause With Bill Moss, Jr.

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

Bill MossGOSPELflava caught up with Bill Moss, Jr. to talk for a minute about his upcoming recording, his famous family and heritage and the work he does at Moss Academy of Music.

GF: Bill, you come from good stock, talk about your beginnings

BMJ: Well, you are right, I am from a family of musicians.  My parents, Bill and Essie Moss traveled the country singing as part of Dad’s group, the Celestials.  My brother is J. Moss (no explanation needed).  My aunt, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, reared one of the greatest gospel acts in Gospel music today, The Clark Sisters.  Then there is the next generation with Kierra and J. Drew, so  as you can see, there was a whole household of music makers.

Since we were always surrounded by music, music kinda came naturally.  I can remember when I was 5 years old, Dad and his group were on the stage singing their hit, Already Been to the Water one evening and Dad jumped off the piano, and I just got on and began to play, I didn’t have a clue, hadn’t had a lesson and Dad hadn’t showed me anything so he was standing there in amazement and the audience was astonished;  that was my first public performance.  Dad seized the opportunity to start me in piano lessons, and shortly thereafter my brother J came along.  Soon the Moss Brothers singing group came to fruition.

J didn’t stick with piano very long, as he developed it became very obvious that he was gifted in the area of production and songwriting, and of course he is an amazing vocalist.  I continued my studies through high school and went to college and got a degree in music.  Everything that I learned I shared with my brother, that just added to his depth .

GF: Give us details about your upcoming live recording

BMJ:  I am honored to serve as Worship Pastor at the Third New Hope Baptist Church where Dr. EL Branch is our Senior Pastor.  It is our desire to capture the energy of the worship that we experience on Sunday morning, thus, the Songbook of Praise and Worship came to be.  We are doing about 7 or 8 covers and I have written about 5 or 6 songs, our intention is to get everybody singing and present to the world praise and worship as we experience it on any given Sunday.  Its going to be a great experience.Bill Moss jr

GF: Any words you would share with up and coming musicians?

BMJ: I’m glad you asked.  I founded the Moss Academy of Music in the year 2000 to provide music instruction to young people in the community.  We  offer instruction in piano, voice, organ, drums and guitar, I am pleased to say that we have done well going on 16 years now,  it gives me an opportunity to not allow my gift to die with me and to prepare future generations of musicians.

I always tell the musicians coming up to be wise, work in the area where you have been planted, be a part of the church where you give service, and don’t let everything be about making top dollar.  It seems the trend of thought among young musicians is “I gotta get paid because I have a gift and a little skill”, but a great number of them lack any real depth, they can’t read music and  don’t know the hymns of the church, can’t follow the preacher, etc.  Take the time to perfect your craft.  Go to school, learn the ministry that you are a part of, I always tell musicians, its alright to crawl before you walk, but you need to be humble.  Make God your focus.  I have been blessed to be a part of some great ministries and have both seen and experiened great growth.  The Bible is right, your gift will make room for you, but you have to allow yourself to be molded and shaped for the Master’s use.


Bill Moss, Jr. Set For Live Recording

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Bill Moss jrNoted songwriter and musician Bill Moss, Jr. is set to record The Songbook of Praise and Worship on Sunday, December 20th at Detroit’s Third New Hope Baptist Church.  The son of Gospel legends Bill and Essie Moss and nephew of Mattie Moss Clark, Bill, Jr burst on the scene as one part of the Moss Brothers, with his younger brother, James (better known as J) rounding out the group.  Bill would leave the group to complete his college studies and went on to release a solo project Manifested Favor in 2008.  The disc made its debut at #27 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart.

In addition to handling music and worship pastor duties at Third New Hope, Moss provides instruction to music students via the Moss Academy of Music.

Damien Sneed and Chorale LeChateau Participate In Holiday Sing In NY

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Damien directsFamed songwriter/composer and producer Damien Sneed brightens the holidays with music as his acclaimed Chorale LeChateau joins the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in its 4th Annual “Holiday Sing” concert on Friday, December 18th 

I am totally thrilled to have the opportunity to orchestrate and arrange music for the Orchestra of St. Luke’s,” says Sneed. “I grew up listening to their Grammy Award-winning projects they recorded with my mentors Jessye Norman, Wynton Marsalis, Kathleen Battle and Renee Fleming. This will be another surreal experience that is definitely beyond my wildest imagination.”

Sneed and Chorale LeChateau’s performance was captured in the film Everyone Has a Place as they joined famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for the celebrated Abyssinian Mass.


RCA Inspiration Celebrates Four Grammy Nominations

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Travis GreeneThe nominations for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards brought great joy to the RCA Inspiration camp.   Israel Houghton & Newbreed received nominations in the Best Gospel Album (Covered: Alive In Asia” (Deluxe) and Best Gospel Performance/Song (“How Awesome Is Our God” featuring Yolanda Adams) categories. Multiple GRAMMY winner Kirk Franklin and newcomer  Travis Greene are recognized in the Best Gospel Performance/Song category for “Wanna Be Happy?” and “Intentional”.

“We’re extremely proud of our GRAMMY nominees,” said RCA Inspiration’s General Manager, Geo Bivins.  “There’s a lot of great gospel music that came out this year and we congratulate Kirk, Israel and Travis on this very special achievement.”

Israel and New Breed Hit The Big Screen

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Five-time Grammy winner Israel and New Breed is coming to a big screen near you! Israel is delivering a new concert documentary Alive in Asia featuring behind the scenes interviews and special guests. It’s a one night cinema event Tuesday, January 19 in select theatres across the country.

Kirk Franklin Celebrates 20 Years of Music, Announces Tour Dates

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

KirkfranklinpubKirk Franklin is bringing the music and magic to a city near you with his 20 Years in One Night Tour beginning March 15, 2016.  While the tour’s focus is to promote the release of the multi award winning songwriter and producer’s eleventh album Losing My Religion, it will also provide a retrospective of his musical works spanning 2 decades.

Losing My Religion made its debut at #1 on the Billboard Gospel and Christian charts as well as #10 on the Billboard 200.  Franklin was the recipient of a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Song / Performance for LOSING MY RELIGION’S #1 single, “Wanna Be Happy?”. (more…)

BET Announces Return of Celebration of Gospel With Host Taraji P Henson

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

The ever popular BET Celebration of Gospel will open the new year making its return to the Orpheum Theater on January 9th hosted by Taraji P. Henson.  The AcadeCOG_LogoBlackmy Award and Golden Globe nominated actress shared these sentiments, “I am thrilled to return to BET’s Celebration of Gospel. It is truly a celebration of the best in music with love and hope. A celebration of what brings us all together and reminds us of what is important.” (more…)

Gospel Industry Legend Gentry McCreary Passes

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

GentryGOSPELflava joins others across the nation mourning the passing of Gentry McCreary, Sr, a giant in the Gospel Music industry.  In his over 40 year career, McCreary worked  promoting records to radio for a number of labels including Birthright, Word, Light and Benson.  His affiliation with Light Records led to the first solo album from Rev. James Moore, Brothers and Sisters, I Will Be Praying For You in 1981.  McCreary’s legacy was cemented with his work at the Onyx label, where he would introduce the world to the Richard Smallwood Singers, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Bishop Paul S Morton in addition to defining albums from Keith Pringle, Danniebelle Hall and Thomas Whitfield.  Moving to the Plumbline label, McCreary orchestrated albums from Daryl Coley and Lecresia Campbell.