Category Archives: Black Music Month

Celebrating Gospel 3

As I continue to celebrate Black Music Month, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a staple in Black heritage: gospel music. Of the many artists out there, The Winans are one of my favorites.

The Winans: The Definitive Original Greatest Hits is a great introduction to a powerhouse clan. It is a 2 disc set which chronicles the greatest hits of the illustrious and celebrated career of the group of brothers from Detroit. The Winans refers to the brothers who sang together for over 30 years, not the dynamic bother and sister duo of the family known as Bebe and Cece Winans. Marvin, Carvin, Ronald, Michael, an Daniel performed together as a group for over 30 years. The youngest duo, Angie and Debbie, also recorded albums. Elder sister, Vickie Winans, is a solo artist. And of course, Mom and Pop Winans started it all by raising the family in church where singing was the way they expressed their love for God. Collectively, The Winans Family has earned 31 Grammys.

Disc one offers early hits like “Tomorrow”, “The Question Is” and the melodic “Everything You Touch Is A Song”. All three songs start the CD off slow, which gives you a chance to absorb the wonderful harmonies and listen intently to Carvin’s high pitched plea:

‘Tomorrow, who promised you tomorrow
Won’t you choose the Lord Toooo-day? (in his highest falsetto)
Your tomorrow could very well begin today.’

The tempo picks up a bit in disc two with toe tapping offerings like
“Fallow Ground”, “Don’t Be Deceived”, and “Restoration”. Though sung with conviction and purpose, the music comes across as uplifting and non-preachy. This is truly gospel in every sense of the word. Theses songs will lift your soul and lighten your mood. At least that’s what they do of me.

If you are in the mood to explore more gospel greats you may be interested in listening to The Clark Sisters or try The Hawkins Family. You will be glad you did!

Pros: the music is inspirational

Cons: not all Winans songs are included in this collection







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Celebrating Gospel 2

The Clark Sisters have long been considered gospel royalty. When they hit the scene in the 80’s their sound and unbelievable vocal runs set a new standard for “gospel”. Thanks to their mother, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, the sisters were trained to sing with feeling and skill. Dorinda’s jazzy runs can give any artist a run for the money! Twinkie’s clean and clear vocals on lead and her amazing writing and keyboard skills make her a force to be reckoned with musically. Karen’s vocal acrobatics along with Jacky’s strong backup vocals all helped to create the unmistakeable Clark sound. Their traditional yet powerful singing established their reputation for making their audience sing and shout right along with them. “The Clark Sisters Live: One Last Time”,
is in the moment and very emotional.

For instance, “Looking To Get There (Heaven” is a tune that makes you nod your head in time with the beat as your senses are enveloped by the harmonies created by the sisters. They always keep their tone fluid and solid.

“The Clark Sisters Live: One Last Time” ends with their cross-over hit, “You Brought The Sunshine”. The driving beat makes you wanna get up out of your seat while the infectious chorus beckons you to join in:

‘You brought the sunshine (you brought the sunshine)
In my life (you brought the sunshine)
You threw out the lifeline (threw out the lifeline)
Changed my life (threw out the lifeline)
And since I have found Christ there has been such a change in my life!

The upbeat song resonates with young and old and is still favored by radio DJs to this day. The live version on this CD allows you to feel the incredible energy The Clark Sisters bring to all of their performances.


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Celebrating Gospel

As I continue to celebrate Black Music Month, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a staple in Black heritage: gospel music.

Listening to the Hawkins Family, Mega 3 is a blast from the past for me. It includes the complete tracks from albums “Love Alive”, “Love Alive II”, and “Love Alive III”. This compilation is the result of collaborations between Pastor/Singer/Songwriter, Walter Hawkins and his brother, singer/musician, Edwin Hawkins. When their first album hit back in the 70’s, it was a refreshing blend of traditional gospel and soul stirring vocals all backed up by a capable choir and an accomplished band of musicians. It is important to note that each album is a live recording, a concert in the style of the “midnight musicals” I used to attend back when I was an eager and youthful choir member. You actually feel as if you are there, singing along and “catching the spirit”.

Where do I begin? Lets’s start with first Love Alive offering. Many slow ballads for quiet time or mediation such as “Follow Me”, “Dear Jesus I Love You”, “I Love The Lord”, and “Changed” sung by the incomparable Tramaine Hawkins.

Love Alive II picks up the pace with “Come By Here, Good Lord, and continues lifting spirits with the upbeat “Until I Found the Lord.” What separates Hawkins’ genius from other gospel choirs is their ability to reprise the chorus, prolonging the joyous rapture and allowing talented backup singers to echo the lead. This creates an exhilarating atmosphere which encourages all listeners to participate and sing along—even while listening at home!

Love Alive III includes the rousing “He’ll Bring You Out”, rounding out a truly inspiring collection. Though this disc contains earlier work, the Hawkins clan recorded several additional albums and continued touring the country until founder, Walter Hawkins’ death in 2010.

Not included in this compilation is my favorite, “Thank You” from Love Alive IV and Walter Hawkins final testimony, “Marvelous”, from Love Alive V. The smooth jazz favorite, “What is this?” was recorded on The Hawkins Family album. In my opinion, there is enough material from these CDs for another Mega 3 collection. Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed!








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This is the review I wrote regarding Whitney Houston’s CD I LOOK TO YOU.

Whitney’s Final Bow
Written: Jun 06 ’12 (Updated Jun 06 ’12)
Pros: The title song is very inspirational
Cons: This is not the young Whitney
The Bottom Line: This is a gem for true Whitney fans

Did you know that June is Black Music Month? I could not resist the opportunity to pay tribute to a fallen star whose brilliance was snuffed out too soon. Before all the hip hop, there was a lady and a true songbird by the name of Whitney whose elegance was evident in her style and grace and whose effortless vocals sent shivers down one’s spine. Her rendition of the “Spar Spangled Banner” was flawless and remains unparalleled to this day.

I remember hearing the single, “I Look To You” on the radio when it first aired. I had to pull over. I was so overcome by the fact that even after all her struggles, she still had “it.” The title song is very inspirational. You have to listen without bias, without preconceived notions and let go the former impressions of the young Whitney. This is the elder statesman, if you will, making her final bow and telling you a bit about her newfound strength with an understanding of her own weaknesses and faults. Listen! This is not the young Whitney, vying for your approval. She knows she is nearing the end of her career and yet she has a few more things to share for those who still want to listen. God graced her vocal chords one last time with more soul and humanity, in spite of it all. So, I bought the CD to support my favorite star’s effort to make a triumphant comeback.

My favorite tune on I LOOK TO YOU is “Like I Never Left”, an upbeat duet sung with Akon. It shows Whitney’s playful and sexy side and in my opinion, she finally achieved some of the soul which some fans have argued eluded her in the earlier pop days. For instance, the cover of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You” was a great throwback to the seventies’ soul era and was well done by the elder, wiser, more soulful Whitney. The “Voice” no longer hits the higher notes she was once known for, yet I can appreciate Whitney’s styling and her masterful voice has taken on a richer tone. I have always said that Whitney at her worst cloud still do things with a song that other artist would not dare, much less attempt.

One single that aired heavily on the radio was “Million Dollar Bill” and for good reason. This is a club favorite that makes you want to pat your feet and sing along. If you really want to see a glimpse of classic Whitney, check out the video of her singing “Million Dollar Bill” on youtube. I guarantee it will bring a smile to your face and you are sure to catch the feel good vibe just watching Whitney dance and prance around in bliss. She also LOOKS like a million bucks!

There will never be another “Voice” like Miss Houston. Larry King once compared her to Judy Garland in that they both had the innate ability to make the listener feel what they were singing because their life was in their voice. Billie Holiday possessed the same gifting.

My most heart felt thoughts go out to her Mother, Cissy Houston and 19 year old daughter, Bobbi Kristina Houston. I, for one, am looking forward to reading the book that Cissy is slated to pen as she tries to make sense of all the struggles she witnessed in her daughter’s life.

Recommended: Yes

Great Music to Play While: Listening

epinions feedback


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New Musical Celebrates Whitney Houston

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New Musical Based on Whitney Houston’s Music


The Bodyguard, based on the smash-hit film which starred Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, premieres this Autumn in London’s West End. Making her West End debut, Tony and Grammy award-winning Heather Headley (The Lion King on Broadway, Aida on Broadway) stars as Rachel Marron, with Lloyd Owen (BBC’s Monarch of the Glen) as Frank Farmer. This breathtaking romantic thriller features a whole host of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits, including One Moment in Time, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and, of course, the legendary I Will Always Love You.”

Only Heather Headley could pull it off! To see her in action,
view this clip of her singing the hit “I Get So Emotional.”


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June is Black Music Month

I will share some of my favorite music from jazz, gospel, neo-soul, hip-hop, and traditional R& B to hip-hop. I hope you will find something from my varied reviews that resonates with your tastes as well. Let’s celebrate!

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