Saturday, January 28, 2006

Shirley Goes To Jail

Well, we all were desperate in getting our tickets to see Tyler Perry's latest creation, "Madea Goes To Jail". But you might want to hold out for a minute and catch the latest gospel craze. More like crazy.

Pastor Shirley Caesar, mostly refered as the Queen of Gospel Music, embraced the Grand Ol' Opry stage at the 21st Stellar Awards (actually who's really counting) with a performance of her newest single from her highly-talked about "I Know The Truth" project.

On her set, Shirley sung a traditional tune tucked in a country-flavored batter called "Jailbird" with Rev. Dallas Lockett dueting with her. Caesar is telling a story about a man who gets time in the pokey. That's where Lockett comes in. He plays the victim in the song. And with a fake background enclosed behind him of jailbars and a prop choir lip-synching with glee, you begin to wonder if this is all we can afford for a 2006 performance on a televised gospel award show. The song was so frustrating to me that I decided to turn the TV off for good.

I'll just stick to Madea...especially when I am certain I can count on hearing some good gospel music and will witness a better grade of excellence. Hey, I know I will get my $45 dollars worth. Otherwise, I'll just wait for the DVD.

Some extra highlights I didn't miss during the Stellars:
1) What happened to Fred's head? He's looking like Predator. Not good.
2) Do we need to buy Deitrick a comb?
3) Ain't Vickie on that Star Jones' diet? Just wondering.
4) Donald may have swept the Awards, but didn't he some of that ProActive?
5) What the heck are we wearing to these award shows?
6) Jonathan Nelson accepted the award for "I'm Healed", but is it Donald's award or Jonathan's. I'm confrused (yes, I spelt it

If I think of anything else, I'll post it later on. Keep praying for the gospel community.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Stellar Recap

January 21, 2006 is behind us and the Awards have been giving out. And even though alot of people would rather wait to see the results delivered on the local airings of the televised 21st Annual Stellar Awards (the GRAMMYS to the gospel community) on their local cable networks and stations, we have decided to post a nice recap on the final resuts. And just to hint at the anguish we have been raging about regarding the Stellar's controversial voting pool, you can see just from all of the victories Donald Lawrence witnessed that this thing is a "fixed" situation.

Lawrence had powerful and well-received albums in the past, even better sales, with projects like "Bible Stories" and "". But for the first time in the Stellar Awards' history, since its inception, this one sinks the Titanic all together. Eight awards all together go to D. Lawrence for his "I Speak Life" album; a project fewed by many critics to be a strong disappointment. One successful single ("Healed") was released from that album, and J. Moss, a guy that experienced a powerful series of singles ranging from "We Must Praise", "I Wanna Be" and "Psalm 150", only took home three. Dr. Charles G. Hayes & the Warriors (along with "Jesus Can Work It Out Remix" vocalist Dianne Williams) impressed plenty, by talking home three awards. Several established artists whom decided to release independent projects and decided to walk out on faith were also honored, such as Lil' iRocc Williams, Walter Hawkins, Mark S. Hubbard & the Voices and Sounds of Blackness. Mary Mary only gets one. It was also shocking to see well deserved saxophonist Kirk Whalum take home a well deserved award for Instrumental CD of the Year.

But there were more disappointments than overwhelming joy. But that's usually the case.

I'm beginning to agree with Tonex' on this one. The industry, especially the gospel, has a lot of growing up to do.

The Winners (

Monday, January 23, 2006

Out The Box For Good

Oh boy. It just seems like more and more drama is falling upon the gospel music community each and every day. The latest falls on Stellar Award winning and highly-controversial contemporary gospel artist Tonex'. In an entry posted on his official blog, Tonex' mentions his disgusts towards the church, cyber saints, the industry and church folks and decided to bow out and retire from the music industry. We can agree with him - it is full of alot of mess. But...we are pretty sure Tonex' will bounce back. All that creative talent in one brotha - I'm very sure God won't allow him to place it all under a bushel to rest forever.

We are not sure if he's ceasing from preaching or giving up on Christianity, even though he clearly states his faith in Christianity is fading and is stressed due to "financial and emotional hardship".

You can read up on the blog entry by clicking here. And no, it's not bogus. It's all right here.

Now I'm wondering if Gospelflava is gonna publicize this.

Official Website
Blog (Tonex' on

Friday, January 20, 2006

Soul Under Fire

Say the words Angela, Isaac, Wilson and Lou in one or two sentences to any soul music lover and you are bound to see teardrops of wrecking agony. That's because the last couple of weeks has been an emotional trainwreck for fans of musical giants in the R&B and soul communities.

After grieving over the loss of R&B singing sensation Lou Rawls, we now mourn the departure of Wilson Pickett. Dubbed "Wicked Pickett" by Atlanta Records' former executive and producer Jerry Wexler for his uncanny style of singing and screaming vocals, Pickett, an Alabama native, released multiple hits in the style of "rock and roll meets soul" in the 1960s with "Mustang Sally", "Soul Survivor", "634-5789" and "In The Midnight Hour". He continued to tour the U.S. and Europe with his amazing mix of passionate energy and raspy singing, until his health recently took a turn for the worst. Yet he was optimistic to returning back to the musical soundstage, according to music journalist Roger Friedman. Pickett passed away at the age of 64 from a massive heart attack.

Another musical giant best known for his deep masculine voice, his occasional rap/talk sessions and his irresistible skill of writing and arranging songs, Isaac Hayes, was recently hospitalized on Wed, Jan 18 in Memphis suffering from exhaustion. Longtime friend and co-writer David Porter with Hayes on hits such as "Gee Whiz", "Soul Man" and "Hold On (I'm Coming)" told the press that "he's just overworked and has been performing in D.C. and in Tunica a couple of nights." Hayes brand of music has inspired the likes of R&B singers such as Alicia Keys, whom also helped shape her last two projects. He is best known for composing the #1 hit "Theme From Shaft", his epic LPs "Hot Buttered Soul" (1969) and "Black Moses" (1971) and lending his voice to "Chef" on the animated cartoon series "South Park". Other hits including "By The Time I Get To Phoenix", "Walk On By", "The Look Of Love", "Do Your Thing" and "Don't Let Go" continue to gain newer audiences with today's generation.

R&B and jazz vocalist Angela Bofill, whom has been extra quiet lately, suffered a stroke on Sunday and was paralyzed on her left side. She was released from the Sutter Hospital in Santa Rosa, California. Public reports have stated that Bofill had no health insurance and will require speech and physical therapy. She has recorded jazz-influenced projects since the 1970s and charmed the public with her "Angel of the Night" album in 1978; which contained the hit "What I Wouldn't Do". In the early 80s, she gained some ground with her crossover pop/R&B style, spearheaded by worthy producers including Narada Michael Walden, Norman Conners and George Duke. "Holding Out For Love", "Too Tough" and "I'm On Your Side" were some of her greatest hits during that time period.

We lift our soul singers up in prayer and pray that they will forever be lead in the arms of our God. We wish expedient recoveries on Angela and Isaac and we will stand in the gap for Wilson's family, friends and fellow colleagues. If it had not been for their efforts and their sacrifices, the gospel music we hear today would have no musical importance. So we thank God for them and we will forever be grateful for their mighty contributions.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Church Idol

The Trinity Broadcasing Network (TBN) invested their time and money in the latest pop craze taking over America. With American Idol riding high in ratings each and every year and its winners producing projects that are taking a bite out of young America's pockets, TBN decided to be "creative" by copying the same idea and concept and placing the blood-stained banner of our God on it. I guess AI winners' Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia and runner-ups George Huff singing gospel music occasionally and talking about Jesus when giving the opportunity sent off a big warning sign.

Exalting Him 2005 National Talent Search, hosted by Contemporary Christian artist Nicole Mullen, is mirrored after American Idol and also bears a strong resemblance to the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship's Talent Contest and Gospel Dream (presented by The Gospel Channel). To prove that this contest is nothing unfamilar to us, they even have a "wildcard" deal to the mix; which is a definite AI move. Let's be reminded that this is not the first of its kind to hit the Christian circles; it's just more publicized since its on TBN. According to the offical website's sources, this event started in 2004 and has gone on ever since. The contest has several divisions which include Best Group and Best Soloist (sorry, no choirs on this one). The majority of the competition are Contemporary Christian (you know what that means) and the announced winner will receive a recording contract with Daywind Records.

Oh yeah, a side note: the finalists from the 2005 season have already recorded a compilation (similiar to AI's agenda) and is available for purchase at or through Apple's iTunes. Hope you can find some good gospel on there. Good luck searching.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Gospel Mourns

Two painful announcements were made on Friday, January 6. While the media continued his restless coverage of the horrible tragedy in Sago surrounding the deadly mine explosion killing 11 miners, the music world was served a sad report; announcing the passing of R&B legend Lou Rawls. The silken-voiced crooner whom got his start singing gospel at the age of seven and singing alongside Sam Cooke, with the Pilgrim Travelers, while growing up in the inner parts of Chicago. He also sung with the Highway Q.C.s and several other quartets and groups in his early childhood.

Known for his R&B standards during the 60s which include "Stormy Monday", "Natural Man", "Tobacco Road", and "Love Is A Hurtin' Thing", he hit it real big in 1976 when renowned Philly producers Gamble & Huff released "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" on their PIR label; which revived his career and prepared him for his next achievement. He would later move on being the national spokesman for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) for over a decade. He hosted, "Lou Rawls Parade of Stars", the highly-watched fundraiser in which premiered in 1980, for years and contributed his talents and his wonderful networking skills to attract big names to the show's roster. Many of the UNCF schools received occasional visits from Rawls and explains why alot of the schools truly loved him for his kind heart and his lovable spirit. The singer revisited his gospel roots by recording two gospel projects with Malaco Records; "I'm Blessed" (2001) and "Oh, Happy Day" (2002). Lou Rawls, 72, passed away after a bout with lung and brain cancer. We will forever miss Brother Lou and will always remember his smile, his style and for always encouraging us with that little phrase of joy: "yeaahhh, buddy".

News also went out involving what many label the birthplace of U.S. gospel music. Of course, it is evident that Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, IL, the same city that Lou Rawls spent a good deal of his musical training in, housed alot of history. It was the same church that housed the Father of Gospel music, the late Thomas A. Dorsey; whom was not only the active music director but known across the world for founding gospel music. When churches during this time rejected Dorsey's style of musicianship, along with his very own "bluesy" compositions later called "gospel", it was Pilgrim Baptist Church that welcomed him in with loving arms. The church was built in 1890 by the famous architectural firm of Adler & Sullivan and housed music legends within the church choir including Sallie Martin, Mahalia Jackson and Rev. James Cleveland. It was also established that this landmark also was the first public site that heard the lyrics and music of the historic "Precious Lord, Take My Hand"; in which was penned by Dorsey. The cause of the fire still has not be made public yet, but it's sad to even know that this wonderful landmark is no longer with us.