Waxing the Gospel – Readying for Release

Written by: Stan North

August 11th, 2016

waxinggospelArcheophone Records is releasing on Sept 30, 2016, a book and CD compilation titled Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900.  Comprising 102 tracks (almost four hours of audio) on three CDs encased in an illustrated 408-page hardback book, the project explores the earliest days of recording. It chronicles in words, images, and ancient sounds how tradition and technology merged in three distinct areas of recording on each compact disc: commercial, celebrity, and vernacular.  Included are track notes, lyric transcriptions, and artist bios.  Focusing on the very earliest recordings of the gospel hymns, the project seems set to deliver a treasure trove of archival gems that will give insight into some of today’s beloved songs.

JJ Hairston Launches Label

Written by: Melanie Pratt

August 10th, 2016
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Stellar Gospel Music Award winning recording artist, J.J. Hairston of J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise, has added another chapter to his book of success with the launch of his own recording label, JamesTown Music. “I’m excited about the launch of JamesTown Music and the vision God has given me not just for the sound of Youthful Praise but for other artists as well,” says Hairston.

JamesTown Music has also signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Nashville-based Entertainment One that will release J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise’s first album under the new agreement in 2017. The as-yet untitled live project (recorded at City of Praise Family Ministries in Landover, MD where Hairston is the Director of Music) celebrates the group’s fifteen years as a recording choir and will feature the new radio single “You Deserve It.” It’s an infectious worship song that will be available for purchase exclusively on iTunes now and all other digital service providers beginning August 15th.

The song is the fan-voted Pick Hit of the Week on the nationally syndicated radio program “The Willie Moore Jr. Show” and is currently trending in the Top 30 on the daily Nielsen BDS Gospel Airplay echart.
Formed in 1991 out of Turner’s Faith Temple in Bridgeport, CT, the group was originally known as Teens of TFT and served as the choir for the church pastored by Bishop J.C. White and Evangelist Gloria White-the parents of J.J.’s wife Trina Hairston. The group has recorded seven best-selling albums that feature Top Ten radio hits such as “After This,” “Resting On His Promises,” “Incredible God, Incredible Praise,” “Bless Me” and “You’re Mighty.”

Chicago’s Pleasant Green Choir Gets In The Mix With New Music

Written by: John Burton Jr.

August 10th, 2016

PG Choir ChicagoChicago is the ultimate destination for Gospel music and this is reinforced by the weekly (and sometimes daily) addition of new quartets, groups, choirs and solo acts.  In the exception category is the Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church where Pastor Walter Matthews greets the members and guests each Sunday morning on Chicago’s south side.  From the exterior, the church would give the appearance as one of the many places of worship where people gather weekly, but when any one of the Pleasant Green choirs hit the stand, you are in for some exuberant sounds of joyful noise.

Minister of Music Elaine Pheloan describes it as such, “We are just a group of ordinary people that God has placed together for worship and to unite people through the power of life changing music.  The music ministry of Pleasant Green consists of people of all ages from the children to the seniors who love the Lord and take seriously the mandate to make His praise glorious. We are blessed with some amazing singers, anointed musicians and skillful songwriters, God takes what we have and it all comes together.”

On their new single Oh the Blood, Pleasant Green calls upon Grammy and Stellar Award nominated songwriter and producer Montage Pheloan (Ricky Dillard and New G, Isaac Carree, Chicago Mass Choir) and co songwriter Paris Baker to present a Sunday church styled track worthy of Chicago, and the song delivers.

Pastor John Gray Lands Show on OWN

Written by: Melanie Pratt

August 9th, 2016
The Oprah Winfrey Network announced today it has given an eight-episode series order to The Book of John (working title) from Leftfield Pictures, a weekly one-hour dramedy docu-series featuring the life of John Gray, associate pastor at Joel Osteen’s world-famous Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. The series will join the network’s popular Saturday night programming lineup this spring.
The Book of John , is a dramedy docu-series featuring the life of John Gray.  Known for his loud, hilarious, unconventional and gravitating ways, Gray has traveled the world utilizing his gifts of music, comedy and preaching to help bring people together from all walks of life and share the Gospel in his unique and uncompromising way.  In the new series Gray will give viewers intimate access into his home life and world renowned ministry as he helps people in his community overcome life challenges, while facing his own relatable struggles as a husband and father. The series is produced by Leftfield Pictures.  Executive producers are David George, Jordana Hochman and Joe Weinstock from Leftfield Pictures, with Rich Wilkerson and Jason Kennedy serving as consulting producers.

Candy West Live Drops August 12th

Written by: Gregory Gay

August 9th, 2016

Candy West is a name synonymous with Gospel music.  In over 2 decades, she has performed and traveled as a background and featured vocalcandywestist with artists including Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Marvin Sapp, Myron Butler, Mary Mary, Snarky Puppy and Erykah Badu. She now gets ready for the release of her solo debut, Candy West Live.

“This record is the soundtrack of faith. It’s the soundtrack for a believer that wants a real relationship with God,” shares West. “One of my favorite songs on the record is one of the most honest songs I’ve written and probably one of the most honest songs I’ll ever sing: it’s called Contentment. The song talks about being between purpose and destiny; where it’s uncomfortable, but you still know and are trusting that God has a plan.”

With production assistance from Candy West, Myron Butler and Deonis Cook and songwriting by West, Butler and Shanika Bereal, the CD hits digital outlets on August 12th.

Travis Greene Launches Church

Written by: Melanie Pratt

August 9th, 2016


Congratulations to Travis Greene and wife Jackie, as they and a team of passionate leaders are preparing to launch Forward City Church.  Set to open on August 21, 2016 in Columbia, SC, Forward City accepts the challenge to continually unify the body of Christ. Forward City is described as a diverse church “consisting of people from different cultures and backgrounds, yet we are united in our love for God and our joy in sharing His love with others.”  The church’s  website proclaims

“This is Home.





Travis and Jackie were both raised primarily in Georgia. They met at Georgia Southern University, where Travis gained a degree in Business Management and Jackie earned her degree in Biology.  Since college, Travis has worked full time in ministry as a youth pastor and worship director. He has traveled across the world as a gospel recording artist and speaker.  Jackie fulfilled one of her dreams by becoming a dentist in 2014. In addition, she leads “Forward Women”, a dynamic ministry empowering ladies to walk out their God-given purpose.

Together, they are on a mission to reclaim this generation for God. Each with unique styles, they lead the family of Forward City Church.  They enjoy laughing, dancing, and sports.  They have a two year old son, David Jace, and another baby boy on the way.

Houston’s Angela Bennett Sings A New Song

Written by: Gregory Gay

August 9th, 2016

angela bennettGood things come out of Houston, and Angela Bennett is indeed a good thing.  The powerhouse singer makes a stunning debut with the release of Rock Steady, a Louisiana Zydeco flavored track produced by Bobby Sparks and Mark Simmons giving the listener concrete evidence that Jesus is the sure foundation.

Bennett hails from a musical dynasty (the late Carole Allen Simmons is her mom) and she and her siblings nurtured their gifts while singing in the choir at Greater Emmanuel Church of God in Christ.  The COGIC experience brought her to glean from the wisdom of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, Sara Jordan Powell, Douglas Miller and Bettye Ransom Nelson.  As her gift made room , Shirley Joiner and Carl Preacher (of BCS fame) came recruiting her for membership in the Southeast Inspirational Choir.  Opportunity would knock again leading to a two-year acting stint in Japan.  Bennett made her return to the US and found a place in music ministry at the Windsor Village United Methodist Church under the leadership of Pastor KirbyJohn Caldwell.

“I’m so excited for this new season”, states Bennett.  “Convinced that God orders our steps and knows how to get us to where we need to be, I can say that I am happy for the journey and excited for the places God is taking me. I am a yielded vessel ready for the Master’s use.”

Rock Steady is available at digital outlets and heads to radio this week.

Rusty Watson Proclaims The Greatness of God In His Solo Debut

Written by: Gregory Gay

August 6th, 2016

GOD-CD-Cover-Front-7-16Rusty Watson is known for his music.  He has written for Rodnie Bryant and CCMC, Ricky Dillard’s New Generation Chorale, Bishop TD Jakes and the Potter’s House Mass Choir and the GMWA Women of Worship.  Watson is most recognized for his composition For My Good, which appeared on the Grammy nominated Love Alive V CD of Bishop Walter Hawkins and the Love Center Choir.  Now, the St. Louis native begins anew with the release of God, his debut solo single hitting digital retail outlets on August 5th.

Watson shared these words about the song and his writing inspiration, “”I am a lover of the Word”, God has equipped and conditioned me to be able to write music that reaches the heart.  Genesis, the book of beginnings adeptly opens with these words, in the beginning God, so I wanted to make that my place of beginning this new chapter as well.  God is a song that I wanted everybody to know who I was talking about with no confusion.  Its a song that honors God the great and God the magnificent, the Supreme God of the Universe in all of His sovereignty.  When we stop and think of all that God is, its enough to make you shout, He’s the Alpha, the Omega, Jehovah, El Shaddai, no one greater, no one above Him, no one before Him and definitely none like Him.”

Watson heads to Louisville, Kentucky for the Dorsey Convention in addition to making several other stops across the country as the single makes waves at radio.

Leo Davis Writes The How To Manual For Effective Music Ministry

Written by: Gregory Gay

August 5th, 2016

Leo Davis BookLeo Davis has spent 40 years “singing to the Lord a new song” and ensuring that the singers and musicians under his tutelage mastered the art of not just being loud, but also skillful.  After 25 years of ministry at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, Davis pens his first book, No Gimmicks.  The book offers an autobiographical look at the life of this celebrated servant leader and master musician/choir conductor as well as  a wealth of  information from his life experiences to motivate persons in music and ministry to reach for higher heights.

A Chicago native who began playing organ for church services at age 15, Davis was exposed to the individuals that helped to shape Gospel music including Dr. Charles Clency, founder of the Voices of Melody, accompanist for the Queen of Gospel Music Mahalia Jackson and choir trainer in the early years for Dr. Charles G. Hayes’ Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer choir.  Clency would serve as mentor and model for Davis.  The book goes on to give practical insight on major issues facing music ministry leaders in churches today.

No Gimmicks is available at online retailers including Amazon.com

Phil Thornton Moves To RCA Inspiration VP Post

Written by: Gregory Gay

August 5th, 2016

Phil ThorntonIn the realignment that shifts RCA Inspiration to the Provident Music Group,  news now comes that Phil Thornton has been appointed Senior VP and General Manager of RCA Inspiration, succeeding Geo Bivins.  Thornton has served for the last four years as VP/GM of of urban inspirational at eOne Music.

“Phil Thornton is a demonstrated leader and visionary with an infectious passion for Gospel music and breaking artists,” said Terry Hemmings. “We are thrilled to have him leading the RCA Inspiration team with its renewed focus on the future while continuing to honor the imprint’s rich decades-long heritage.”