Monday, December 10, 2007

Dollar and Long Get It Wrong

According to a report released by the Christian Post Reporter and the Associated Press, only two ministries on the list of high-profiled ministries under investigation by the U.S. Senate cooperated: Kenneth Copeland Ministries and Joyce Meyer Ministries.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who is leading the investigation, responded: "It’s good that some of the ministries are cooperating. I hope all of them will cooperate in the end," said Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Finance, in a statement. "For the focus of this inquiry, ministries are the same as any other non-profit organization. It’s a question of abiding by tax laws just like any tax-exempt group."

A month ago, Grassley sent letters to six high-profile ministries – led by Paula and Randy White, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Benny Hinn, Meyer and Copeland – requesting financial statements and responses to pointed questions about salaries, perks and other organizational and personal finances. The Senate probe was launched to determine whether the ministries are abusing their tax-exempt status as churches for extravagant lifestyles.

Early in the investigation, Dollar had released some information about the finances for his church – World Changers Church International in College Park, Ga. – showing that the 30,000-member church took in $69 million in 2006."I generally don't make this public," he said at the time.Dollar along with several other pastors have raised concerns about invasions of privacy and violations of religious freedom regarding the Senate probe.Dismissing the religious liberty argument, Grassley said, "Forget it. They don't have a leg to stand on."

Representatives of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., said publicly that the ministry will cooperate with the Senate request but Grassley has not yet received any material or contact from the ministry. Bishop Eddie Long, who leads the Baptist church, has called Grassley's request unjust.

Meyer surprised many last week with her press statement claiming that her ministry embraces "this latest opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to transparency with our supporters and our dedication to the continual improvement of our own systems of accountability." Very bold statement...and one that shows integrity. Horray for Meyer! If we only knew exactly how and why Dollar and Long got it wrong.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The One Thing The Academy Got Wrong...

What happened to Robin Thicke?

This is the puzzling question pop and R&B experts are asking about the list of the 50th Annual GRAMMY Award nominations. Requirements for GRAMMY nominations and award eligibility state that albums must be released during the Eligibility Year - which happened to be October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007. Robin Thicke's explosive urban/R&B album, The Evolution of Robin Thicke, was released on October 3, 2006.

The nominees in the R&B category, including Jill Scott, Tank, Dwele and Ryan Shaw, are startling when one compares it to the magnitude of Thicke's project. Not one time was Thicke nominated in a pop or R&B category this year - a massive misfortune on the Academy's part. Every last nominee in the R&B/urban categories are black...something Thicke is not. So do you think that was the problem?

One thing Thicke's single, Lost Without U, had over the other nominees is that it reached number one on the R&B charts and even reached number 14 pop. The album itself went to number 1 R&B and number 5 pop. Oh, but excuse me, the Academy doesn't just recognize best-sellers...they award quality and content. That probably explains why Crank That (Soulja Boy) was nominated for Best Rap Song. What marvelous content that is. Okay...maybe I should have changed the header's title. It should instead read "Two Things The Academy Got Wrong."

To read the official list of the 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards nominations,
click here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Weeks vs. Bynum: Round Two

Seems like the battle between Bishop Thomas Weeks III and popular teleevangelist Juanita Bynum is still on.

A recent press conference on Thanksgiving Day was staged by Thomas Weeks III on the church property of Global Destiny Church in Atlanta as he faced allegations and statements made by his estranged wife Juanita Bynum during an interview in the current issue of Essence magazine. He also ended his silence concerning the tax debt that made national news surrounding his Duluth, Georgia home and the crisis surrounding Global Destiny Ministries.

“The time has come," Weeks states, "to bring clarity to a number of rumors, conjectures, lies, dramatized statements. I have not come here to attack Juanita Bynum.” He furthered that in order to protect his wife; he has purposely rejected countless opportunities for interviews to publicly answer allegations against him regarding domestic violence. He said, “I must address fact from fiction,” calling the rumors and conjectures “a serious plot to destroy” his ministry and everything that “I am about.” Yet he believes that the rocky marriage is still repairable.

As for the foreclosure on their home, Weeks explained that the house was under a lease-purchase agreement and that they had fulfilled their part of the agreement without making the decision to purchase it.

Shocking details, from his point-of view, were also released from Weeks claiming the severe bruises that were photographed and identified by her staff during the August meeting at an Atlanta hotel were not made by him as she proclaims and believes it is another way to sabotage his name and ministry. "She is part of a serious plot to destroy everything I was apart of,” he said, adding that the article, which features part two next month, was “crafted to make me look like a villain.” He even went further to state that she has been the aggressor in the relationship and he has been beaten by her numerous times.

“Everything will come out in court,” he repeated throughout the news conference.

On Sunday, Bynum responded to Weeks’ charges in a statement through her publicist. "Bishop Weeks is doing exactly what he promised he would do and that is, try to destroy my name with lies, fabrications and exaggerations," the pastor said. "His behavior is to be expected."

She went on in her statement, made by her publicist Amy Malone, that "at this stage of my ministry/career with major projects pending, I would not have had any motive to stage my own attack and bring worldwide negative press to myself. I am confident in the power of truth! I was Juanita Bynum when I walked into this marriage and I will continue to be Juanita Bynum as I exit from this marriage in spite of all false allegations that have come against my name."

The couple's divorce is still pending in Gwinnett County Superior Court.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

John Legend Gets Lifted Up

Oh what a day it would be to hear the talented, super-seductive vocals of R&B crooner John Legend sing a song unto the Lord.

Of course, it isn't such a big deal since the Springfield, Ohio native comes from a religious background - growing up in church singing gospel and playing piano at the tender age of six. The session piano player, who later picked up work with Lauryn Hill, Kanye West and Alicia Keys, gained an extreme amount of popularity moving to Philly for college life. Now John Stephens, or Legend in the pop world, has an incredible resume filled with three GRAMMYs and top ten records and a list of hit singles. It is his interesting combinations of soul and R&B music that places Legend into the same arena of classics such as Donny Hathaway, Teddy Pendergrass and Al Green. And we thought for a second R&B died when Luther Vandross left us...

Anyone that knows Legend's background good enough will even pull out the strengths of such a talented family. Danielle Stephens, Legend's sister, is a longtime member of Israel Houghton's New Breed. Kashaan Stephens, now located in Cincinnati, is also preparing to release his upcoming debut project on the world. The Stephens family even gathered together to sing with the R&B hero on his "Get Lifted" album.

News finally leaked out that Legend will be returning to his gospel roots during an upcoming appearance at BET's live taping of their Celebration of Gospel festivities. The program will feature gospel legends including Kirk Franklin, Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams and R&B super-diva Patti LaBelle. The event will once again be graced with the comedic talent of Steve Harvey. Things take place on December 15, 2007, 6 p.m., at the majestic Orpheum Theatre. What a show that's going to be.

Of course, if I had known about this anytime sooner, I would have been booked my tickets for this show. Especially to hear what song Legend has picked to sing for such an event in gospel's history. Would it be Donny Hathaway's gospel offering "We Need You Right Now" or Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready"? Gosh, so many songs to think of...

By the way, we are not encouraging Legend to switch over to gospel. He's doing a terrific job in R&B - and we really wish more people would get on board to give birth to more great music as his. But Legend, singing a gospel song or two or even doing one album in his lifetime for the gospel, would just be "legendary."

Now if those Legend haters would stop with those senseless jokes on YouTube of Legend's grindin' segments on stage...of him being "lifted" in other ways. In the words of Legend: "Save room for my love."

BET (Official Website)
John Legend (Official Website)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

More Views To Review

Before we at count down to the Best of 2007, we want to announce that you will be seeing dozens of album reviews popping up at the website. There are so many albums that escaped our reach during this year that we failed to get our hands on for review. But all is not lost - we are definitely working on posting reviews up on multiple album releases from this year. Featured in the big list of reviews to come are: Myron Butler & Levi, Lee Williams & Spiritual Q.C.'s, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Bobby Jones, Shirley Caesar, Isaac Simpson & DP and others.

The reviews will be posted before Anniversary Week starts...
After that, expect the Holiday Issue to pop up - and the rest is self-explanatory.
Expect to see our yearly wrap-up in the 2007 editions of "Simply The Best" and "Esssentially: The Top 12 Gospel Albums of The Year".

Hmmm...I wonder what it would be like to see NBG and join forces for another segment of "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly"

By the way, we tried to get in touch with Tyscot Records to see if they had any promotional copies of VaShawn Mitchell's latest release (Promises)...they didn't know who we were and asked for us to email them a data submission of the website. We did just that and still have not received any correspondence from them. Fear not, none can escape the wrath of PRAYZEHYMN. LOL.

By the way, we have reviewed in the past several of Tyscot Records' releases including albums from Bishop Noel Jones, Anointed Pace Sisters, New Life Community Choir ft./ John P. Kee, Lucinda Moore, Bishop Larry Trotter and VaShawn Mitchell's "Believe In Your Dreams." Not sure on how they have no clue as to who we are at

Details on what's happenin' the week on ANNIVERSARY WEEK can be viewed at the main page.

Friday, October 26, 2007

This Just In: 23rd Stellar Award Nominees

During a live press conference in Nashville, TN, the nominees for the 23rd annual Stellar Awards were announced. The winners will be announced on January 12 during a taped session at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Multiple nominees include the Clark Sisters, DeWayne Woods, Maurette Brown-Clark, Tramaine Hawkins, J Moss, the Wilmington Chester Mass Choir, Bishop Noel Jones & the City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir and Fred Hammond.

Only problem: why wasn't Patti LaBelle nominated, but Chante Moore and Kenny Lattimore was...that's another blog for another day. Hmmmmm...

And the list of the nominees are:

Artist of the Year
Fred Hammond; Free To Worship; Verity
J Moss; V2... ; PAJAM/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba
Smokie Norful; Life Changing ; EMI Gospel
The Clark Sisters; Live - One Last Time; EMI Gospel
Kelly Price; This Is Who I Am; EcclectiSounds Entertainment/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba

Song of the Year (Songwriter; Song; Label)
Karen Clark Sheard ; "Blessed & Highly Favored"; EMI Gospel
Jimmy Hicks; "Born Blessed"; World Wide Music
PJ Morton; "Let Go "; Quiet Water/ Verity/ Zomba
Kurt Carr; "Still Standing"; Light Records/ Tehillah
Percy Bady; "Um Good"; EMI Gospel

Choir of the Year
Darius Brooks Presents, The Reunion Live in Chicago - Side A (featuring former members of the Thompson Community Singers) ; Journey Music Group
Wilmington Chester Mass Choir; It's Not Over; Emtro Gospel
Bishop T.D. Jakes & The Potter's House Mass Choir; Live in Kenya, Grace: The Kenya Experience ; Dexterity Records/ Rhino
Isaiah Thomas and the Elements of Praise; Isaiah Thomas and the Elements of Praise, Live! ; R.O.U. Records
Bishop Noel Jones Presents The City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir; Welcome to the City ; Tyscot Records/Alpha Dog Records

Producer of the Year
Fred Hammond; Free To Worship; Verity
Kurt Carr, Tramaine Hawkins; I Never Lost My Praise - Live;Gospo Centric/ Zomba
David Mann & Tamela Mann; Tamela Mann - The Live Experience; TillyMan Music
Donald Lawrence, The Clark Sisters; Live - One Last Time; EMI Gospel
Kelly Price & H.R. Crump, Kelly Price; This Is Who I Am ; EcclectiSounds Entertainment/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba

Group Duo of the Year
The McClurkin Project; We Praise You; Gospo Centric/ Zomba
The Clark Sisters; Live - One Last Time; EMI Gospel
The Mighty Clouds of Joy; Movin' ; EMI Gospel
The Anointed Pace Sisters; Return; Tyscot Records

New Artist of the Year
Group 1 Crew; Group 1 Crew; Fervent Records/ Curb Records/ WB
Antwaun Stanley; I Can do Anything ; Bajada Records/ Lightyear
Bishop Noel Jones Presents The City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir; Welcome to the City ; Tyscot Records/Alpha Dog Records
DeWayne Woods; Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet; Quiet Water/ Verity/ Zomba
Jimmy Hicks & The Voices of Integrity featuring The Levites; Born Blessed ; Worldwide Music

Male Vocalist of the Year
Fred Hammond; Free To Worship; Verity
DeWayne Woods; Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet; Quiet Water/ Verity/ Zomba
J Moss; V2... ; PAJAM/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba
Troy Sneed; In HIS Presence; Emtro Gospel
William H. Murphy; Live in Atlanta, The Sound...Another William Murphy Project;; Music Group

Female Vocalist of the Year
Vanessa Bell Armstrong; Walking Miracle; EMI Gospel
Tramaine Hawkins;I Never Lost My Praise - Live; Gospo Centric / Zomba
Vickie Winans; Woman To Woman; Verity / Zomba
Tamela Mann; The Live Experience ; TillyMann Music

Contemporary Group/Duo of the Year
Kenny Lattimore & Chante' Moore; Uncovered Covered; LaFace Records/ Verity/ Zomba
PAJAM Presents 21:03; Twenty One O Three; PAJAM/ Gospo Centric/ Verity/ Zomba
The McClurkin Project; We Praise You; Gospo Centric/ Zomba
Zie'l; Genesis; Light Records/Gospel Warehouse Records

CD of the Year
J Moss; V2... ; PAJAM/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba
Tramaine Hawkins;I Never Lost My Praise - Live; Gospo Centric / Zomba
Vickie Winans; Woman To Woman; Verity / Zomba
The Clark Sisters; Live - One Last Time; EMI Gospel
The Caravans; Paved The Way; Malaco

Traditional Group/Duo of the Year
The Anointed Pace Sisters; Return; Tyscot Records
The Clark Sisters; Live - One Last Time; EMI Gospel
The Caravans; Paved The Way; Malaco
The Rance Allen Group; Closest Friend; Tyscot Records
Alvin Darling & Celebration; My Blessing Is On The Way; Emtro Gospel

Contemporary Male of the Year
Deitrick Haddon; 7 Days; Tyscot/ Verity/ Zomba
Dave Hollister; The Book of David: Vol. 1 The Transition; Gospo Centric/ Zomba
Fred Hammond; Free To Worship; Verity
Smokie Norful; Life Changing ; EMI Gospel
Micah Stampley; A Fresh Wind; The Second Sound ; Levitical Records

Traditional Male of the Year
Bishop Paul S. Morton; Still Standing; Light Records/ Tehillah
Rev. Timothy Wright; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; Koch Records/Jordan Entertainment/ MQM Records
Alvin Darling; My Blessing Is On The Way; Emtro Gospel
Norman Hutchins; Where I Long To Be; JDI Records
Richard Smallwood; Journey: Live In New York; Verity/ Zomba

Contemporary Female of the Year
Coko; Grateful; Light Records
Tamela Mann; The Live Experience ; TillyMann Music
Shirley Murdock; Soulfood ; Tyscot Records
Vickie Winans; Woman To Woman; Verity / Zomba
Maurette Brown Clark; The Dream; AIR Gospel / Malaco

Traditional Female of the Year
Nikki Ross; Vol. 1 Touch: The Pastor Rudy Experience; Music World
Tramaine Hawkins;I Never Lost My Praise - Live; Gospo Centric / Zomba
Lemmie Battles;You're Looking At A Miracle LIVE; New Haven Records
Candi Staton;The Ultimate Gospel Collection; Shanachie Ent. Corp.
Prenestine Williams-Porter;Motor City Praise Records presents World Wide God; Motor City Praise

Contemporary CD of the Year
Shirley Murdock; Soulfood ; Tyscot Records
Sound of the New Breed; Freedom ; Integrity Gospel / Newbreed
Kelly Price; This Is Who I Am ; EcclectiSounds Entertainment/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba
Deitrick Haddon; 7 Days; Tyscot/ Verity/ Zomba
J Moss; V2... ; PAJAM/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba

Traditional CD of the Year
Tramaine Hawkins;I Never Lost My Praise - Live; Gospo Centric / Zomba
The Anointed Pace Sisters; Return; Tyscot Records
Bishop Paul S. Morton; Still Standing; Light Records/ Tehillah
The Caravans; Paved The Way; Malaco
The Rance Allen Group; Closest Friend; Tyscot Records

Urban/ Inspirational Single / Performance of the Year (Artist; Song; Label)
Kelly Price; "Healing" EcclectiSounds Entertainment/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba
J Moss; "I'm Not Perfect" PAJAM/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba
Deitrick Haddon; "Heaven " Tyscot/ Verity/ Zomba
Kirk Franklin; "Look At Me Now " Fo Yo Soul/Gospo Centric/Zomba
DeWayne Woods; "Let Go" Quiet Water/ Verity/ Zomba

Traditional Choir of the Year
Darius Brooks Presents, The Reunion Live in Chicago - Side A (featuring former members of the Thompson Community Singers) ; Journey Music Group
Wilmington Chester Mass Choir; It's Not Over; Emtro Gospel
Bishop T.D. Jakes & The Potter's House Mass Choir; Live in Kenya, Grace: The Kenya Experience ; Dexterity Records/ Rhino
Bishop Noel Jones Presents The City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir; Welcome to the City ; Tyscot Records/Alpha Dog Records

Contemporary Choir of the Year
Joshua's Troop LIVE JT3; New Haven Records
Isaiah Thomas and the Elements of Praise; Isaiah Thomas and the Elements of Praise, Live! ; R.O.U. Records
L. Spenser Smith & Testament; Statement: The Assignment Continues...; Emtro Gospel

Instrumental CD of the Year
The Craig Crawford Players; I'll Be With You ; Life Jam Records
Syreeta Thompson; Gabriel's Praise ; Blow Your Horn Girl Publishing
Lionel Jones; Papa Jones; Color Code Purple Productions, Inc.
Ben Tankard; Let's Get Quiet: The Smooth Jazz Experience ; Verity/ Zomba

Special Event CD of the Year
Various Artists; A Christmas To Remember ; EMI Gospel
Kirk Franklin; Kirk Franklin Presents Songs For The Storm Volume 1; Fo Yo Soul/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba
Mary Alessi & Friends; When Women Worship ; Miami Life Sounds Records
Various; Blackberry Records presents Wedding Songs ; Blackberry Records
Yolanda Adams; Yolanda Adams, The Best of Me ; Atlantic / Wea

Rap/Hip Hop Gospel CD of the Year
The Cross Movement; HIStory: Our Place in HIS Story ; Cross Movement Records
Joe L. Da Vessel; Testimony: 1 Lyrics 4 Life ; D.A.A.S. What's Up Entertainment
Pettidee; Resurrections...Past, Present, and Future... ; Sony/ BMG/ Soldier Sound Records
PAJAM Presents 21:03; Twenty One O Three; PAJAM/ Gospo Centric/ Verity/ Zomba
Various; BG Records Presents Gospel Skate Jams Vol. 2; BG Records

Children's Performance of the Year
Eva Sabiniano; Born To Praise; Pacific Studios
Kaira Miller; My Everything ; Vine Life Productions
The First Coast Children's Choir; Let The Children Sing! Volume IV Give an Applause!; Spirit of Life Records
Jada Simone Clark; Maurette Brown Clark's The Dream; AIR Gospel / Malaco Records

Quartet of the Year
7 Sons of Soul; Witness; Verity/ Zomba/ Soul World
The Mighty Clouds of Joy; Movin' ; EMI Gospel
The Rance Allen Group; Closest Friend; Tyscot Records
Slim & The Supreme Angels; The Judgement; Malaco Records
Pilgrim Jubilee Singers; Jesus Got Me Off; Malaco Records

Music Video of the Year (artist, song/CD title, label)
Jimmy Hicks & The Voices of Integrity featuring The Levites Born Blessed; Worldwide Music
J.Moss: "Operator"; V2... ; PAJAM/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba
Shirley Murdock: "I Love Me Better Than That"; Soulfood; Tyscot Records
Vickie Winans: "The Rainbow"; Vickie Winans' Classic Gold Video Collection; Destiny Joy
Antwaun Stanley: "Teach Me"; I Can Do Anything; Bajada Records

Recorded Music Package of the Year [art credit / album (artist) / label]
Sean M. Kinney (art direction and design); Ronald Cadiz (photography); V2... (J.Moss); PAJAM/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba
Denise Trotman (art direction and design); Ronald Cadiz (photography); Woman To Woman: Songs of Life (Vickie Winans); Verity/ Zomba
Nicola Goode (photography); Welcome to the City (Bishop Noel Jones Presents The City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir) ; Tyscot Records/ Alpha Dog Records
Anita Boriboon & Michelle Lukianovich (art direction and design); Kwaku Alston (photography); This Is Who I Am (Kelly Price); EcclectiSounds Entertainment/ Gospo Centric/ Zomba
Sean M. Kinney (art direction); Ronald Cadiz (photography); Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet; Quiet Water/ Verity/ Zomba

Praise and Worship CD of the Year
Marcus Cole; Write My Song; PureSprings/ EMI Gospel/ Riverphlo
Micah Stampley; A Fresh Wind; The Second Sound ; Levitical Records
Troy Sneed; In HIS Presence; Emtro Gospel
Stephen Hurd; My Destiny; Integrity
Maurette Brown Clark; The Dream; AIR Gospel / Malaco

Nominees announced for the 23rd annual Stellar Awards (
Stellar Awards (Offical Website)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Obama's Church Draft

It's time to rack up black voters in the South.

To do that, you got to have a passion for good music, soul food and know how to shout Hallelujah. In the mostly conservative state of South Carolina, presidential hopeful and Democratic candidate Barack Obama is hoping to grasp the attention of black voters, conservatives and to raise monies for his campaign. This is really needed for Obama's campaign since fellow Democratic champion Hillary Clinton, according to polls, possesses a substantial lead over Obama in the early voting state. With hopes of gaining voters, his Outreach team has organized a 3-city gospel tour called "Embrace The Change" for the state featuring big name gospel artists including Fred Hammond, Mary Mary, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Beverly Crawford, Deitrick Haddon, Hezekiah Walker, the Mighty Clouds of Joy and Donnie McClurkin.

The tour sounds almost too good to be true - especially since it seems like manna from heaven will be falling on South Carolina. But Obama might have crossed the wrong line with gay/lesbian supporters. The buzz, all over the Internet, media resources and in the news publications, have mentioned that a gay rights group has asked Obama to drop Donnie McClurkin from the gospel tour who it says spreads false information about homosexuality being a choice and claim that the popular gospel singer preaches messages of homophobia.

"I don't believe that it is the intention of God," McClurkin said Monday in a telephone interview. "Sexuality, everything is a matter of choice."

In a statement, Obama said he believes gays and lesbians are "our brothers and sisters" and should be afforded the same respect, dignity and rights granted all other citizens.

"I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country," Obama said. "I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views and will continue to fight for these rights as president of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division."

The statement did not say whether McClurkin will still perform on the tour.

After the heat has been raised on Obama's next move regarding McClurkin's involvement in his campaign, two questions may be raised: "Will he fall down?" and "Can he get back up again?"

The following information includes the announced tour dates and locations:

October 26, 2007
Gospel performances by:
Mary Mary, Fred Hammond, Hezekiah Walker, Beverly Crawford
North Charleston Performing Arts Center
5001 Coliseum Drive North Charleston, SC 29418

October 27, 2007
Gospel performances by:
Byron Cage, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Vanessa Bell Armstrong
Greenwood Civic Center
1620 Hwy 72 221 E. Greenwood, SC 29649

October 28, 2007
Gospel performances by:
Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin, Deitrick Haddon, Mighty Clouds of Joy
The Township Auditorium
1703 Taylor Street Columbia, SC 29202

Group to Obama: Drop McClurkin From Tour
Obama Criticized Over Singer (New York Times)
Barack Obama (Official Website)
Barack Obama (Official MySpace Page)
Donnie McClurkin (Official Website)
Truth Wins Out (Official Website)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Birmingham, In My Own Words

I love my city.

Some might think I don’t. Funny I mention that - since I sometimes feel like I overlook the peeps here (but for really good reasons) and have recently made decisions on to become a more broader, global-outreach community and not to single out the viewing audience from other locations in the world. Most will remember I had a section on the site months ago that focused only on events in my hometown - but decided to incorporate any events of serious magnitude within the national events. But I really have grown to love my community, my birthplace, my home. I always had a heart for it, but I’ve seen it flourish and grow over the last couple of years (even when many skeptics said the “Magic” in the City did an “abracadabra”). And it’s a growth I have accepted and have embraced with great respect and dignity.

Now, for those that don’t believe me and really want to make this blog a laughing matter - let me prove my point in this paragraph. There’s more to Birmingham than historic dates within the Civil Rights holiday calendar. We have a flourishing entertainment community that has grown in leaps and bounds - and the nightlife on the town is something to see. We are proud of businesses and social outlets like WorkPlay and Bottletree - pushing excellence into the mainstream with a down-home, local approach. We have new commercial business and corporations seeking to make Birmingham home and we have kept a large number of our industry neighbors within the city limits. New expansions of the Summit have kept our attention and the gorgeous, new look of Eastwood Village - scheduled to open on October 22 - is an event we all are anticipating to partake of. Old buildings that many condemned for its demise like the City Federal and the old Cabana Hotel have been resurrected with mighty power as extravagant lofts and renovated condominiums. The Birmingham News - the state’s largest newspaper - has a gorgeous building to shout about. Then there’s the new FBI Field Office building - a neat addition to the city’s landscape - and the $100 million, eight-story, state-of-the-art, environment-friendly Social Security Administration building (that is almost completed). The Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, on the University of Alabama Birmingham campus, is also a flagship center of attention for the arts and continues to feed the community with its large, universal popularity. And then add to the mix a culture that is flooded with greatness and attitude including the progressive Southside (Five Points South) area and the renaissance in the Five Points West area. And with the large expansion of the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) - set to include a up-scale entertainment district and lucrative dining - and the welcoming of both the five-star Renaissance Hotel into the downtown area and another quality hotel to be placed on the Southside, the people of Birmingham should have a lot to be grateful for.

But are we fellow Birminghamians really grateful?

Others around us are suffering and when they said that misery loves company, that it does. That misery has crept into Birmingham politics and has turned the city’s mayoral race into a circus full of division. And that’s because the heart of our local political body has now bubbled into a amalgamation of mutated, self-absorbed soothsayers. Just say the magic words and act like you can preach a lil’ while and you already have an audience aiming to be faithful.

Not that I hate the idea that so many are now trying to take the mayor’s seat...I just despise the idea that so many candidates are only taking the position seriously because they see an opportunity and have failed to make important strides of success to impact their community. I see Birmingham as a promising territory that has grown in large proportions and have once again made a name for ourselves. Most of the credit concerning the great things that have come from the area must be forwarded to the great people that live here. They have made it all possible...but let’s also recognize that we have a great leader and visionary in position and now that the city’s councilors have cooperated with him, we have seen a great deal of progress with our very eyes. I would hate if we decided to make one wrong move to loose everything we’ve gained.

The future of Birmingham looms and falls on one day - October 9, 2007. We will see who will take this great city forward in hopes to make it brighter and better. All I know is Mayor Bernard Kincaid has done an incredible job during his tenure as mayor. All of the accomplishments mentioned, without a lick of scandal or increases of taxes, were all possible because of the Mayor’s leadership and wisdom. I would seriously hope that the people of my hometown won’t let me down. We’ve come too far to turn around now. One bad move and we just might have to say “abracadabra” once and for all.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chaka Gets Funky Again

You have to give it to her. She has one of the most recognizable and entertaining voices of all time - and she has done it all. From jazz to funk, from soul to R&B, from pop to disco...and even gospel (catch her singing on Richard Smallwood with Vision Journey: Live In New York singing "Precious Is Your Name").

But The Voice is back with her newest CD - FUNK THIS - and she's back to getting down with the funk. Her career took off many years ago as the lead vocalist of the successful '70s-80's funk outfit Rufus and laid down killer grooves and hits that included "Do You Love What You Feel", "Sweet Thing", "Tell Me Something Good" and "At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)." On FUNK THIS, Khan goes down memory-lane to pull out that Rufus vibe and uses the tag-team production efforts of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to recreate that same energy and style that made Chaka Khan a household name. On new cuts such as "Hail To The Wrong" and "One For All Time", you can hear the recreation of the sweet grooves found on her earlier solo projects, while the Jimi Hendrix remake of "Castles Made Of Sand" (featuring Jesse Johnson on guitar) exposes her to a gutsy rock funk that sits well on her big vocals. Prince's "Sign 'O' The Times" is an end-time message that places Khan in the prophetic, while "Angel" - the album's strongest ballad and hit single - proves to be a definite moment for Khan's songwriting abilities. When the end of the song resonates, you can hear the song's story blooming of the great possibilities for a better woman to arise from deep within as she declares "you will be free." It's a careful blend of R&B with gospel. R&B diva Mary J. Blige guests on the innovative "Disrespectful"; a song that feels like a '70s funk groove that rides on a tang-tang drum workout. At times, you can't tell who's who. Michael McDonald also jumps into the ring with Khan on the Doobie Brothers/Carly Simon remake; "You Belong To Me". "Will You Love Me" and "One For All Time" are true Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis moments - and feel just right on the music legend.

Plus there's a very special collaboration with Rufus guitarist Tony Maiden on the exclusive Ol' Skool medley featuring Rufus hits "You Got The Love" and "Pack'd My Bags." You can't go wrong here.

There's plenty of funk to go around here and it's beautiful to see that funk music is being re-instituted back into mainstream music. Chaka almost reinvents herself on her new release; proving that she's still the voice that the world instantly recognizes and has forever been associated with the funk.

This week, Billboard Magazine revealed that her single "Angel" is riding at #41 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles charts. Her album should do wonders next week on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop. She will, of course, be facing a mean selection of best-sellers including Ann Nesby's newest project This Love and Kanye West and Fiddy's projects - which both hit the #1 and #2 spots consecutively last week.

Below are just a few of the photos from the new album's inside jacket.

Chaka Khan (Official Website)
Chaka Khan (
Burgundy Records
Chaka Perfoms "Angel" on the Today Show (NBC)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Paula White Speaks, D. James Kennedy Passes

On a recent Praise the Lord program on TBN, co-pastor Paula White sat on the other side of the table to be interviewed by contemporary Christian recording artist Carman. She opened up about the hurt of her recent announcement to divorce her husband of eighteen years, Pastor Randy White. Both Randy and Paula White founded the Without Walls International Church together in Tampa, Florida - which became one of the fastest growing churches in the country. In recent years, Paula experienced a breakthrough of popularity; launching her own ministry and become a best-selling author, talk show host and motivational speaker.

"I say this for Randy ... my former husband," Paula expressed on TBN. "And Randy is a man of God. No one sets their life out and says, 'Boy, this is what I think I'm going to go through.' And people look at things as failure, why didn't this work. But I see 18 years of the rock that I was healed from and I'm grateful for the seasons in my life because I wouldn't be who I am without all the people that God has used to help me, to develop me, to cultivate me."

"Some of the greatest development in the men and women of God ... were those in adverse situation, those in opposition," White added. "But it pulled out because you had that decision. You can either gravitate and put your hand to the plow and say, 'Okay, God, I don't get this one; I don't even like this one. But still what do You have to say to me? I will not be moved.'"

According to an announcement made at the Without Walls church, Randy White took "100 percent responsibility" of the split and will continue as the senior pastor of the Florida church. While White plans to release a brand new book in October revealing journal excerpts from her personal life, there is no word on Paula White's future involvement with the church.

The media failed to really focus and cover one of the big saddened events of the week - the passing of conservative preacher and popular televangelist D. James Kennedy. The longtime pastor of the 10,000-member Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (also located in Florida), Kennedy passed away in his home at the age of 76 on September 5. He had not made a public appearance since suffering from cardiac arrest in December, followed by reported multiple complications. Kennedy's retirement to the ministry was announced seven days prior to his passing. Kennedy was also a popular minister in the roster of TBN's great index of preachers. While his passion for American pride and politics remained a prominent part of his sermons, his respectful and loving nature remained one of his drawing points and placed him in a very small category of well-loved and respected conservative preachers.

Paula White Ministries

Friday, August 24, 2007

Weeks: How To Have Grown Up Marriage

Incredible YouTube video snippet from the accused Bishop Thomas Weeks preaching on love and marriage during the 2006 Teach Me How To Love Conference in Atlanta, GA. We wonder how long the Bishop is going to keep this profound word up.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The "Week-est" Link

Big-time teleevangelist, occasional host of TBN's highly-rated "Praise The Lord" and successful gospel artist Juanita Bynum-Weeks is in the news once again. This time, it's bloody.

According to and the Associated Press, Bynum and her estranged husband , Bishop Thomas W. Weeks, III, met at Renaissance Concourse Hotel near Atlanta's airport to try to reconcile, police said. Then around 4 a.m., things got a little shaky as a fight broke out between the two. A bellman employed by the hotel had to break the two up.

Officer Ronald Campbell stated that "she was bruised up and battered...and had purple bruising around her neck and upper torso."

No charges were filed against Bishop Weeks, who also happened to flee the scene of the crime...I meant incident. Authorities are still searching for Weeks.

News like this makes you want to go back and get a refund on that big fancy wedding we all bought for $20 after watching the 2-hour special on TV. Save the "No More Sheets" jokes.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jumpin' Out: Reflections of Tye Tribbett's Live Recording

This reflective excerpt comes from Jon Moore, supporter and contributor to While we welcome opinions from all sides, the commentary presented here should be treated and viewed as being one person's point-of-view.

I'm happy to report that we had wonderful weather for the entire trip and I IMMENSELY enjoyed both days of the recording! As you know, the first night of recording was held at the Rock Church International (Bishop John & Pastor Anne Gimenez) before an overflow crowd and the second night was a Beach Party/recording right on the VA Beach boardwalk. As I mentioned earlier, I had a blast but let me just get my gripes out of the way first....

Yours truly was fortunate enough to have purchased tickets well in advance and had a seat in the VIP section. However, in all honesty, the VIP status didn't help much as there was no assigned seating in VIP as we originally anticipated (since our tickets had assigned seats printed on them) and we were seated on a first-come first-served basis...not to mention the fact that the concert was oversold and there were people ev-e-ry-where and by the time they were really trying to get things started there were tons of folks that still didn't have a seat. Mind you, this church seats upwards of 5,000 - 6,000 people (I'm just estimating based upon how large the sanctuary looked) so the fact that there were still folks with no seats was kinda sad to me. There were people who paid for a ticket that ended up standing for the entire concert crowded by the doors, sitting on steps, and leaning on railings. Not cool!

Since I had a VIP ticket I ended up near the front but off to the side, which would not have been a problem with a different audio setup. However, the speakers were setup such that all of the sound was directed straight in front of the stage and left the folks on the side with a less-than-stellar auditory treatment. Lastly, the concert started waaaay, I mean way. I don't recall the exact time it actually started but I know it was supposed to have started at 8:00 pm and the last time I checked my watch (about 30 min. before things kicked off) it was 9:15 pm.

Aside from those three things it was a great experience once everything got rolling. The title of the new album is "Stand Out!" and G.A. opened with the title track which I'm anticipating will be one of their first releases. Other songs to look out for are "Everything Little Thing Will Be Alright", "Bless The Lord Oh My Soul", and "Look Up". Special guests for the new album include Judith Christie-McAllister, Kierra "Kiki" Sheard, Kim Burrell, and Jon Owens. Jon Owens is a brotha from Tallahassee, FL and actually wrote the aforementioned "Bless The Lord"...check him out when you get a chance (

We didn't stay the entire time for the first night of the recording because me and my friends had already been there since about 6:45 pm and it was 11:30 pm at the halfway point and they still had a whole second half to go. Additionally, Tye had pulled a stool during intermission and had gotten nice and comfortable in his "preacher" mode with no end in we had to roll (I'm sure several people that had been standing against the wall immediately started rejoicing, lol). All in all, what we heard, saw, and felt at the Rock Church was all good.

The Beach Party on the other hand was the worship experience! Now I'm sure you'll get differing opinions on that but I can only speak for myself...the Lord made His presence known outside on the boardwalk!! Worship? Do you want to talk about worship? Oh my Lord, did we worship out there?! On our knees, hands lifted in surrender, total liberty in Christ (and you KNOW you won't get Black folks to get on the ground...and when we're all dressed and looking cute?!?). A number of our Caucasian and Hispanic brothers and sisters joined us on the beach just because they were passing by and I believe all in attendance were blessed by the experience. It was incredible! Hard worship and then some hard partying, HA!! It was great!

Tye Tribbett & G.A. (Offical Website)
Tye Tribbett & G.A. Fan Club
Tye Tribbett (Wikipedia)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

'A Good Black Man' Under Investigation

When you become a pastor of one of the fastest growing mega-churches in the country and you're seen on BET and TBN almost every week, and have become one of today's high-profiled influential leaders within the African-American community, you can't help but run across a pile of "haters" further down the road. Rev. Jamal Harrison Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple AME located in Baltimore, may have a big problem with such "haters" and the recent reports hitting the media about his recent troubles with Bianca Wilson and Michelle Wedderburn; two different women who both have filed lawsuits against the famed pastor for a number of issues including paternity tests, peace orders and child support.

A few weeks ago, emails from anonymous sources and a number of bloggers challenged the reverend's integrity and have even pressured Bryant to lightly speak about the situations during recent church services. At the time, the future on Wilson's case is still in the air since she is now pregnant with child and will have to deliver the child in order to prove that Bryant is the father. The two have been summoned a peace order by the court system. As for Wedderburn's case, Bryant has to pay $400 a month for child support - since Bryant has been proven to be the child's father. This decision outrages a number of Bryant's critics since they feel he is a multi-millionaire and believes that $400 a month is next to nothing for the plaintiff. Word has it that Bryant's wife had no idea prior to the opening of this case of Naomi Bryant; the young child conceived by Wedderburn and Rev. Bryant.

Public information and documents on Bryant's cases, including a recent case surrounding a traffic violation, can be acquired at the Maryland Court official website.

When will the church be the church? All I ask for is that the preachers of today start to live the same stuff they profess about in the pulpit. If we get that right, then the world wouldn't have a problem with coming to church on next Sunday.

[updated: August 12, 2007]

Maryland Judiciary Courts
Check Your Pastor (PRAYZE Report)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Stax Of Music

Call it an overhaul of great soul music.

The Stax-Volt Music label, a historic mammoth of Southern soul/R&B music that swept the country from 1962 until 1974 when it closed its doors for the last time due to bankruptcy, has resurrected in a very big way. With the L.A-based Concord Music Group leading the soul revolution during the label's 50th-year anniversary and helping to revive the world-renowned music label to its former glory, Stax has since released a number of incredible re-issues, a few repackaged 'greatest hits' collections and are already working on new album releases for their new stars including neo-soul sensation Angie Stone, jazz trio Soulive and Black Moses himself Isaac Hayes.

We are pleased to say to announce that the double-disc Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration, the revived label's kick-off souvenir packaged like a collector's edition with a beautiful layout of photos and an intensive bio on the label from Rob Bowman, was released to the public in March - receiving great recognition and rave reviews for its consistency and for containing the big hits. Other projects including The Very Best of Rufus Thomas (a colossal 20-track compilation featuring all of Thomas' cool grooves) and The Very Best of Isaac Hayes (a single-disc greatest hit collection containing eighteen edit versions of Hayes' Stax hits) have since been released.

All of these promotions are being launched to celebrate the fifty-year anniversary of such a great musical institution. And you can tell it's a big fact, it's big business. The Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau has even adopted the Stax reputation into their 2007 campaign and remain instrumental in helping spread the word about the vast reputation the label has earned the city of Memphis over the years.

On June 22, Concord reunite some of Stax's living heroes on the stage of Orpheum Theater in Memphis and brought the audience to their feet with great tributes and celebrations of the label's history. American Idol judge Randy Jackson and rap pioneer Chuck D. were the event's hosts and helped give the gala a modern, cool outlook. But it was the performances of a recovering Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the M.G's, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Mavis Staples, the Soul Children and gospel sensation Rev. Rance Allen that made the night a memorable one. Also featured on the bill was Angie Stone, singing Shirley Brown's "Woman To Woman," and Otis Redding III singing "Try A Little Tenderness." Word at the Stax Site states that the show was taped and will be available on DVD in the fall. After reviewing the write-up at The Memphis Flyer and reading the stars that made this night one to not forget, we can't wait to get our copy.

On August 1, 2007, at 9:00 p.m (ET), Great Performances on PBS will air Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story - a special documentary focusing on the achievements made by Stax and featuring a number of the label's highlights and special performances.

Of course, the future of Stax Records still remains skeptical. We are not certain if the new artists will enjoy their tenure with the revived label or if they will match the capabilities and artistic definition of the giants of yesteryear. There are strong possibilities of it being a force in modern music, but who can match the contributions of Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, the Bar-Kays, Johnnie Taylor, Sam & Dave and Isaac Hayes. Of course, that list goes on and on. But it is beautiful to see the kind of work and valued input Concord is putting into this campaign. The expectations may be high for the label, but the endless possibilities continue to remain a figment of our soulful imaginations.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Check Your Pastor

Have you been reading the headlines lately?

Not just national, but local?

The Los Angeles Catholic diocese will be releasing a record-breaking $660 million to victims of sexual abuse this week during a recent settlement. Even though the Archbishop head cardinal Roger Mahony publicly apologized for the 'sin and wrong' done to the victims, many are claiming, including the lead attorney for the victims, are claiming that the recent act of justice was "long overdue."

Heard about Pastor Joel Anthony Ward in Los Angeles, whom admitted to his church congregation that Tarshia Rodgers, the church's choir director, was pregnant with his child? Not only that, but she also has a restraining order on him due to violent threats he has delivered to her. Voice messages of his phone calls to her have been sent to multiple resources, including the local newspaper - the Los Angeles Wave. Sounds like something that was best suited for a motion picture.

And in Birmingham (AL) local news, local church hero and minister Pastor Gregory L. Clarke, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, will be in federal court this week due to tax evasion and tax fraud totaling $40,000 dollars - including personal tax records and documents that somehow were altered and modified. Other black churches in the area are getting on television looking crazy - trying to defend him by saying he is innocent. One local minister, Pastor Stephen Green, stated if "he goes down, we all go down." I guess it's now alright to cheat on your taxes.

I'm tired of ministers and preachers that are trying to taint the Good News of our Christ with their personal affairs and misconduct. I hope you really really trust your pastor...because we are living in the last days. There are more fake prophets out there than those that are true. Don't be misguided...I don't care if that was your family church or if you and your pastor were roommates in college...if he or she is wrong, they are wrong. And they need to be punished for their senseless crimes with the same gavel of justice, just like you. Fair is fair.

I leave you with this question:
You better check your pastor.

*originally posted and recently modified by J. Matt (PRAYZE Place)

Roman Catholic Church Pays Out $660 Mil (PRAYZE Report)
Sex, Lies and Video Tape: Rev. Joel Ward (Los Angeles Wave)
Local News Featuring Rev. Clarke Court Announcement (Fox 6 News)

L.A. Catholic Diocese Pays Out $660 Mil

A record 660-million-dollar payout to hundreds of victims whom were sexually abused by church leaders and clergy members of the Los Angeles diocese of the Roman Catholic church was poised to be confirmed this week.

Archdiocese head Cardinal Roger Mahony -- who has been accused by angry victims of attempting to conceal abuse cases during his tenure -- apologized to the hundreds of victims as he confirmed the settlement on Sunday.

"Once again I apologize to anyone who has been offended, who's been abused by priests, by deacons, by religious men and women or by lay people ... It should not have happened and should not ever happen again," Mahony said.

Ray Boucher, the lead attorney for the victims, said the settlement, which in some cases related to abuse dating back to the 1940s, was "long overdue."

Now we are wondering when the black church will be under investigation by the government for the hundreds of boys and girls that have been sexually abused. Oh forgot, the African-American community are too afraid to speak out about those things. If this blog could preach the stories of the many viewers or closet-PRAYZEHYMN supporters that have been victimized and are afraid to speak out, because of fear and rejection, the world would know how hypocritical the church has been. Half of those quiet individuals are doing the same thing their foes have done to them, so will the circle ever be unbroken.

Our prayers remain with the Roman Catholic church. You are not alone.

*Quotes taken from the Associated Press - link below


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Beauty Must Be Skin Deep

Secular and mainstream publications grab all of our attention - from their layouts, graphic design, originality and artistic presentation. Maxim, GQ, Ebony, Sister2Sister, People and Vanity Fair are some of the mighty giants in the press that have gone to the level of high expectations to give their readers a taste of jovial delight for their eyes and mind. From juicy gossip to its illustrious photo shoots, we cannot resist the power of a good read that they unfortunately provide with great results.

But gospel-oriented and Christian magazines are jumping on board to achieve such feats - call it "mimic ministry." Everything we do in our weekly publications, they did first. Such as the Top 10, gossip columns, event calendar, big photo layouts, paparazzi photo spreads. But there should be no war over these things. So childish to do such a thing.

But Shereese Hair & Beauty Magazine caught our attention in a big way with their announcement of the Top 20 Most Beautiful Gospel Artists in their July issue. Even though we aren't surprised to see Yolanda Adams making the number one spot, some of the voters' choice may have been judged by "skin deep beauty." Tye Tribbett even made the list at an astonishing placement of number 10. This is probably due to extreme fanatics and probably by those that forgot this was a beauty magazine. God forbid if the rapture takes place and the Top 9 take flight. We demand a recount.

The list also included:
#2 Donnie McClurkin

#3 CeCe Winans
#4 Shirley Caesar
#5 Smokie Norful
#6 John P. Kee

#7 Kirk Franklin
#8 Mary Mary
#9 Vickie Winans

The results were judge by readers' votes and were compiled by the Dallas-based publication. Shereese Magazine is targeted to reach African-American women ages 18-49 years old.

Shereese Magazine
Top 20 Most Beautiful Gospel Artists [Shereese Magazine]

Friday, July 06, 2007

Just Bloggin'

Real. Coolin' Just coolin'
(Listening to Levert's Just Coolin')

Okay people. Had to update the blog with sumthin' fresh. And lately, there's been a lot going on. Lots more in mainstream. Kelly Clarkson's latest project - the one Clive Davis dubbed as being "dark and dangerous" is getting bad press lately and may be the biggest sharpshooting disappointment this year from any of the Idol's superstars. Except if you wanna look at AI's Paris Bennett's indie-project - which contains a very low-budget and home-engineered beats. Mandisa is dropping her Contemporary Christian project, "True Beauty," next week...should be VERY exciting. Next!

Sorry if I'm comin' off too hard - but you know how I feel about obvious gospel artists trying to get CCM dollars.

Then there's the Kelly Rowland (Ms. Kelly) project - in stores now. AHotMess stated that the project is bound to sale 100K in its first week. We will see how she fairs out on Soundscan and Billboard when she's put up against T.I's new release.

Now for the gospel.
Somebody shout "GOSPEL!"

Richard Smallwood's project (Journey: Live In New York) drops in sales considerably. He placed number 6 this week , after debuting at number 1, on Billboard two weeks ago. In mainstream, dropping to number 6 isn't such a bad thing, but in a small genre like gospel, it hurts. Currently standing in the top spot on the gospel charts is the surprising Tyscot new release from Bishop Noel Jones' church choir. I don't ever remember a Tyscot release ever hitting the #1 this is incredible news for the small-yet-quickly expanding music label from Indianapolis. The Detroit crew - J Moss and the Clark Sisters - are still sitting in the Top 5. And R&B diva and icon Patti LaBelle tells Tye Tribbett and CCM artist Nicole Mullen to get outta my way as she sails back to number 8 this week with her on-fire gospel project. It's been an interesting week at Billboard in the gospel world for sure.

We are expecting to see Marvin Sapp hit the Top 5 for next week with his latest release, Thirsty. The album features new and recycled praise-and-worship music penned by a number of writers including Martha Munizzi, Jason Nelson and Jonathan Dunn. The former Commissioned singer sounds good on the project - and fits well in the worship stuff. Even though we prefer a diverse set of material on projects these days. Makes the world happy that way. Expect a full review at in days to come. Not much I say now about the new release - but I will reveal that even though it's nowhere close to the infectious Diary of A Psalmist - it is more rewarding than his last project, Be Exalted.

Now I'm off to my other job...and then to see Transformers at the movies. Hope 2 see you there.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How To Save Gospel Music: Step #1

Originally posted on the PRAYZE PLACE Blog, "How To Save Gospel Music: Part One" (

I thought about it for a second and I really wanted to post an article on this subject on Who knows...I just might. But in the meantime, I'm going to throw out a few wise words, choices and options that may bring clarity to this glorious heritage of music we call 'gospel' music.

First you got to know what you are saving before you go after trying to rescue it. And to make it a little more practical in words, you have to know where you've been in order to know where you are going. In the last two decades, Gospel music has making shifts and turns in directions that remain both unprecedented and threatening to its original form of glory. Today's generation has no real respect to the historical relevance of its pre-war pioneers and Golden Age developers. And most of the facts and information has been misconstrued and unappreciated for years that it is hard for serious musicologists (or in better words - music historians) to receive any form of credit. Researchers I have valued including Anthony Heilbut, Horace Clarence Boyer, W.K. McNeil, Bob Darden, Bernice Johnson Reagon have done an incredible job in putting our music's history to words for future generations to adore. Have we as gospel music lovers seriously read any of their works? I'm sure "we" haven't. Even though I know I have, I include myself in the list of today's lazy gospel generation...just because I hung with them at the lunchroom table in grade school and I don't want to sit in the seat of judgement...not at this time. Maybe later.

I felt like writing this piece in parts - because the matter is weighty and very tough to tackle at one particular time. Gospel music is at a crucial point in time...whether critics want to agree or not...whether the "churched" want to believe it or not. Years ago, gospel music was defined by style. A style that used to be clearly identifiable and easy to define. Gospel music had a sound. A sound that incorporated its musical origins of blues and jazz into a swirling frenzy of spiritual soul music. And with that sound came the expressions of the African heritage and the responses from the centuries of agony, survival and conquest. The slave songs, the work songs, the holler, the shout, the moaning and spirituals became our forefather's communication to the Creator and with it came knowledge and power. With the blues and jazz, gospel music began to develop and later emerged into its own style; helping to create and stimulate music icons in multiple genres such as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and Lou Rawls. Those artists never ceased to use the tools they inhabited from their gospel schooling.

Who would have known artists such as Prof. Alex Bradford would be the primary influence for Little Richard? Who would have thought that Dorothy Love Coates, a female who rocked the foundations of civil rights with her social-gospel messages, would be an inspiration for a number of quartet singers today...especially for men? Who would have thought that a young Aretha Franklin sat quietly and admired the beauty and talent of Clara Ward's performances at her father's New Bethel Baptist Church? Who would have thought that Sam Cooke, a young man that made gospel appealing with the Soul Stirrers, would later create his own genre of music...a genre that artists like John Legend, Alicia Keys, Raheem DeVaughn, Robin Thicke and Anita Baker make a living off of. We as gospel torchbearers have always been the inspiration for our world's priceless musical landmarks. Until now...

I definitely feel we have upset ted the waters of our heritage for numerous reasons. We aren't as responsible, we aren't as intelligent and we aren't as vigilant as the former generations. And the funny thing looks we are because we have more available to us. We have books, computer technology to make our own music without paying one musician, we have mega-churches, we have songbooks, hymnals, MP3s and reasonable resources. AND...we still have a generation of newcomers that refuse to be mentored...that think they are all of that and a bag of Golden Flake potato chips...and cannot take an ounce of valuable criticism. We have cities loaded with lazy and selfish gospel talent and cannot put together one good project of songs. We have selfish producers and songwriters that tend to hold the best songs for their own projects - with hopes they will take home a "notable" award that no one will ever see or remember. We have thousands of MySpace pages with thousands of friends, but not one of those friends are willing to put $15 dollars down to buy their homemade project. And we even have gospel artists nowadays that aspire to be semi-nude models on the side and wonder why the religious-conservative right have a problem with them at the Dove Awards. And we have a generation of newcomers that still don't know what a hymn evening Yolanda Adams talked to a few of today's gospel celebs on TBN and asked them what their favorite hymn was. Responses such as "I Don't Feel Noways Tired", "Just Another Day" and "I Won't Complain" sparked from their happy souls. As much as I love those gospel gems, those aren't hymns, folkz.

Hey, if you're guilty of any or all of the above...don't write me any hate mail. Just learn to do better.

The first thing we as a people, as a nation of gospel torchbearers, should account help save our genre...we must learn how to be accountable. Of ourselves...of our talent. I can go on and on about that point...but you know the Word. Learn how to properly invest in your talent and to nurture your talents and gifts. Use wisdom upon it and watch your gifts make room for you. Not just at the next midnight musical...but in the industry. The problem with our artists today, both signed and unsigned, is that they believe living a lie and keeping it undercover will make their talent blossom. Hate to say this, but if you are too lazy to write a good song or to search for a good songwriter or producer and too cheap to invest in good ground, then you are not prepared for greater. Learn to be accountable for your strengths and your weakness, for your victories and your failures. Only you posses the key to your destiny. It's time for you to unlock it.

J. Matthew Cobb
June 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Melinda and BeBe and Cece Together

Just when you thought American Idol was finished with all of the big surprises on their 2-hour Season 6 finale' spectacular, out comes one of our most anticipated reunions in all of Gospel music history. BeBe & CeCe Winans reunited after thirteen years of departing to pursue solo careers. Melinda Doolittle, a former background singer for CeCe and one of AI's hopeful finalists, rocked the stage with BeBe & CeCe Winans during a live performance of Percy Bady's "Hold Up The Light" from the platinum-selling "Heaven". What is so amazing is that the original song featured Whitney Houston dueting with the two...but Doolittle decided to jump into the race to prove that she can handle Houston's over-the-top soaring vocal power. Just a week before the finale', Randy Jackson choose as his song choice for Doolittle a Whitney Houston ballad ("I Believe In You And Me") - stating that he felt she needed to "stretch and challenge herself". The song may have been what cost her the big victory to the finale' since the song seemed to be too colossal for her voice. But Doolittle bounced back with phenomenal performance on gospel power anthem, "Hold Up The Light".

On to bigger news, BeBe & CeCe Winans have announced that there appearance on AI was far from being accidental. The two are reuniting and are working on an upcoming project and tour. Street date has not been released, but they are currently in the studio working on the project. BeBe exclaimed, “I’m so grateful for BeBe & CeCe’s past accomplishments. But I’m so excited about coming back together and blazing new trails of hope into the hearts of people all around the world.” CeCe added, “I’m very excited that the time has finally come for BeBe and I to reunite and encourage the world with uplifting, soul-changing music.”

As for the talented Melinda Doolittle, she will join the top finalists on the American Idol Tour this summer. Tickets are on currently on sale now. For more details, visit the
American Idol Official website.

The sixth season finale' was watched by over 29.5 million viewers; a sharp drop from last year's 36.4 watchers. It is possible that the billing of Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis was not what viewers intended. AI judge Simon Cowell mentioned that he would have liked to see two great voices battle it out in the end - preferably Melinda Doolittle and Jordin Sparks.

American Idol (Official Website)
Ratings down 19 percent, Jordin wins (