Renowned saxophonist Jackiem Joyner presents his latest album “Church Boy”

Jackiem Joyner has traveled all over the world with his signature saxophone sound, yet he returns home—figuratively—on his fourth release, Church Boy. Reaching back to his roots and reigniting his faith, Joyner brings together his beloved jazz and his foundational gospel music.

The album is a transparent and honest testament of Joyner’s faith. After graduating from high school, Joyner moved from upstate New York to Virginia and found himself with no money, no job and homeless. For almost six months Joyner lived from shelter to shelter, sometimes staying with a friend, until his life turned around.

“I found myself praying a lot because these were very difficult times,” says Joyner in a news release. “I learned that if I didn’t experience those hard times, I believe my character would have been different.”

With his masterful talent of instrumental jazz, Joyner tells a story without words. Church Boy offers familiar covers as well as songs penned, produced and arranged by Joyner, and features guest artists Kirk Whalum and Jonathan Butler. The fusion of the two distinct genres of jazz and gospel flow seamlessly as the popular saxophonist endearingly nicknamed ‘Lil Man Soul’ makes clear his connection to Gospel music.

Genita Pugh emerges on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart with latest hit

Genita Pugh

Over the past three years, Genita Pugh has emerged as one of the gospel world’s brightest new stars. She’s turned in national Top 30 hits such as “You Made It Possible,” “Can’t Live” and “Holy to the Lamb” that made it all the way up to No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart. Now, Pugh’s latest hit “God Can” enters next week’s Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart at No. 30* with a bullet. It’s a song of faith with an infectious ’70s throwback R&B groove along the lines of The Gap Band’s classic “Outstanding.”

“The song challenges the believer to take an introspective look at their belief and faith in The Most High to provide, restore, create and deliver in the time of need,” said Terry Woods in a news release.

Woods wrote the song that was originally recorded by his brother, Jerard Woods, in 2007. “It also points us to the One who can be everything when all else has failed,” he said.

It’s a message that resonates well with Pugh who grew up in the church thanks to her grandmother, Willavry Glen, taking she and her siblings every Sunday when they were kids. She’s lived in Laurel, Miss., all of her life and spent years as a hairdresser before her husband, Donald Pugh, nudged her to launch a musical career. Although, she had always sung in the church choir, Pugh says, “I never had that confidence in myself to think my voice was good enough to ever be [national].”

Now that Pugh’s been successful on the national scene and released two CDs, including her current Top 10 project, “My Purpose” (Eternity Records), Pugh is a testament to the idea that God can do anything and make dreams manifest. “My prayer has not been for me to be famous, not for me to be rich nor be this great star,” she says. ”My prayer has been that people’s lives will be changed and that somebody will be saved, healed, delivered, restored and renewed.”

Shekinah Glory Ministry hits Billboard’s Top Gospel chart with new CD “Surrender”

According to a recent news release, Chicago-based ensemble Shekinah Glory Ministry (SGM) continues to dominate and set the standard for urban praise and worship music. Their new and fifth CD, “Surrender” (Kingdom Records), has debuted at No. 8 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart. The whimsical, uplifting radio single, “Champion,” led by Danielle Nightingale Cargo’s warm soprano, is expected to debut on Nielsen BDS’ New & Active chart listing next week. In a short time span, this song has pulled in 600,000 weekly listeners in the U.S.

Kingdom Records is a leader in African-American praise and worship music with hits such as Shekinah Glory Ministry’s 2001 breakthrough smash, “Praise Is What I Do.” The million-selling SGM is not a choir. Instead, it’s a dynamic ensemble of psalmists, minstrels, and banner bearers who perform “under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.” Their Hebrew name means “the glorified presence of God.” Their CDs “Praise Is What I Do” (No. 5 peak Top Gospel Albums) and Shekinah Glory Ministry “Live” (No. 3 peak Top Gospel Albums – 103 weeks on the chart) were both certified gold in 2005 and 2008 respectively. They also have three gold or platinum DVDs to their credit and their 2010 CD, “Refreshed By Fire,” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart. For more information, go to www.kingdomrecordsinc.com.

Gospel’s balladeer Earnest Pugh to release his first Christmas CD

Over the last half dozen years, Earnest Pugh has established himself as Gospel Music’s Leading Man with soul stirring, #1 radio smashes such as “Rain on Us” and “I Need Your Glory” that also hit the Adult R&B Airplay charts. Now, he’s joining the ranks of Johnny Mathis, Mahalia Jackson and Nat “King” Cole by creating a holiday album, “Christmas with Earnest Pugh & Friends” (EPM Music Group/$15.98 MSRP), due in stores on Oct. 16 that is sure to become an annual yuletide listening treat.

The 14-track set marks Pugh’s first time sitting in the producer’s chair and he shares the mic with some of his best and most talented friends in the music biz. The initial radio single, “Ring Dem Bells”, a rousing mid-tempo ballad features impassioned backing vocals by Charles Butler & Trinity. A soulful “Silent Night” features the smooth tenor of Quadrius Salters. Baritone Keith Williams joins Pugh on “Holy 2 U” while powerhouse soprano Chrystal Rucker does a majestic rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” with a simple piano arrangement. Lisa Knowles of the Brown Sisters and Pugh trade adlibs on a churchy rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Vincent Tharpe & Kenois create a warm and cozy groove on “Go Tell It” while newcomer Martha Buries brings a jazzy vibe to Ann McCrary’s “Remember Not 2 Forget”. Veteran vocalist Nikki Ross sits us down on the front pew of a Sunday morning church service to deliver a dramatic version of  “Walk in the Light”.

Christmas music has always been a staple In Pugh’s home.

“With very little money and 12 kids – music was all we had when I was growing up,” he says in a news release. “Our household was filled with love, music and good food during the holidays. This CD is near and dear to my heart because it was one of the final requests that my mother made just prior to passing away on New Year’s Eve 2006, that I make a Christmas CD. The concept of the CD catches me interacting with some kids during a choir rehearsal to prepare them to go caroling throughout the neighborhood.”

There are plans in the works for a 10-city Christmas with Earnest Pugh Tour that would also feature EPM Music Group artists such as Vincent Tharpe and Kenosis, Chrystal Rucker and Keith Williams. For more info on EPM and its various projects, go to www.epmmusicgroup.com.

“Nobody Greater” songwriter Darius Paulk releases first digital CD

The last three years have been a whirlwind for Atlanta, Ga.-based, Dove and Stellar Award nominated songwriter, Darius Paulk. Singer Vashawn Mitchell recorded his tune “Nobody Greater” and watched it rise to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart and spend a solid year in the Top 10 in 2010-2011.

“Darius wrote a song that captured and changed the hearts of so many lives, and he’s only scratched the surface,” Mitchell says in a news release. “The world will soon experience more of his heart of worship.”
 
That experience is coming Aug. 14 when Paulk will release his first digital EP, “Lyrics & Melodies”, a five-song cyber album that will be available on iTunes and other online music stores. It may surprise some that Paulk is a singer, but he’s been doing it all of his life.


 “God has invested so much into me and I want to exhaust every area of gifting that he’s blessed me with and singing happens to be one of them,” he says. “I’ve always admired singer- songwriters such as Walter Hawkins, Thomas Whitfield, Twinkie Clark, Andre Crouch, and Donald Lawrence, so this is me living out the dream I’ve had since I was a child.”
 
Those influences are evident on songs such as the majestic ballad “He is God” that’s cut from the same cloth as the best songs by Crouch and Whitfield. Paulk’s tenor warmly fills the nooks and crannies of the tune rather than overpowering it, allowing the lyrics and melody to shine instead of having them overshadowed by vocals. “It’s a worship ballad that is dear to my heart,” he adds. “I wrote it a day after I got held up at gunpoint after the Stellar Awards last year. It kind of falls in line with the current trend.”
 
The up-tempo “This I Give” employs a charmingly sophisticated urban AC and smooth jazz vibe that makes it a refreshing vehicle to express the inspirational lyrics. Paulk, who wrote “Deeper” for Marvin Sapp’s current No. 1 CD “I Win”, is asked whether he feels pressure to deliver another massive hit like “Nobody Greater” and his response is definitive.


 “I never gauge my songs off of one another because they all come from different experiences and the true success for me is not how well it charts, but how well it provokes the listener to change for the better,” he adds. “’Nobody Greater’ was massive, but I didn’t write it with the thought this is gonna be a radio smash. I wrote it with the thought that everyone that hears this will know there’s not another power Greater than our God.” 

For more information on Darius Paulk, visit him online at www.dariuspaulk.co.

Shekinah Glory Ministry member Andre Mobley dies

Andre Lester Mobley
Photo Provided

Andre Lester Mobley, 46, a founding member of the platinum selling-ensemble, Shekinah Glory Ministry, passed away on Aug. 2 from blood clot complications. 

 “There are heavy hearts in Shekinah Glory Ministry and the Kingdom Records family today, “ says Kingdom Records President Joan Sullivan in a news release. “Another soldier gone.” This tragic death comes just weeks after another veteran member of the group, Pepe Epting, died in June. One longtime friend wrote on Facebook that Mobley was, “A man of a gentle, quiet and humble spirit.”
 
Mobley joined Valley Kingdom Ministries (the church home of Shekinah Glory Ministry and Kingdom Records) on April 5, 1992, when he played the organ during the 8 a.m. service. He played on three of Shekinah Glory Ministry’s hit recordings, including “Praise Is What I Do”, “Live” and “Jesus”. He did not play on the group’s forthcoming CD, “Surrender”, that was recorded live at Valley Kingdom in April and will be released nationally on Sept. 25. Mobley’s survivors include two children, Andrea and Avery.
 
Mobley’s viewing took place today at Callahan Funeral Home, 7030 S. Halsted, Chicago, IL. The funeral service takes place, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, at Valley Kingdom Ministries International, 1102 East 154th St., South Holland, IL 60473. The wake begins at 10 a.m. with the homegoing service starting at 11 a.m. 


“I’m just a wonderful person who loves God and people,” Mobley once posted on his Facebook page. “If you don’t know me, I’m probably someone you would want to know.” 

For more information on Shekinah Glory Ministry, go to http://www.sgmsurrender.com.
 

Rising gospel star Genita Pugh clocks new hit “God Can”

Genita Pugh

Over the last three years, Genita Pugh has emerged as one of the gospel world’s brightest new luminaries. She’s turned in national Top 30 hits such as “You Made It Possible”,  “Can’t Live” and “Holy to the Lamb” that made it all the way up to No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart. Now, Pugh returns to the airwaves with “God Can”, a song of faith with a  ’70s throwback R&B groove that’s guaranteed to take her back to the top. 
 
“The song challenges the believer to take an introspective look at their belief and faith in The Most High to provide, restore, create and deliver in the time of need,” says Terry Woods who wrote the song that was originally recorded by his brother, Jerard Woods, in 2007. “It also points us to the One who can be everything when all else has failed.”
 
It’s a message that resonates well with Pugh who grew up in the church thanks to her grandmother, Willavry Glen, taking she and her siblings every Sunday when they were kids. She’s lived in Laurel, Miss., all of her life and spent years as a hairdresser before her husband, Donald Pugh, nudged her to launch a musical career. Although, she had always sung in the church choir, Pugh says, “I never had that confidence in myself to think my voice was good enough to ever be [national].”
 
Now that Pugh’s been successful on the national scene and released two CDs, including her current Top Ten project, “My Purpose” (Eternity Records), Pugh is a testament to the idea that God can do anything and make dreams manifest.



“My prayer has not been for me to be famous, not for me to be rich nor be this great star,” she says in a news release. ”My prayer has been that people’s lives will be changed and that somebody will be saved, healed, delivered, restored and renewed.”
 
The ministry aspect is what’s of the most importance to Pugh who sees herself as an evangelist first and a singer second which is why she spends so much time talking to people about their lives and even ministers to fans on Facebook.



“When I was growing up I wanted to be a teacher, and I wanted to be a movie star not knowing that God had a plan even much greater for my life that I am a teacher – a teacher of the gospel and I’m not a movie star as far as in the limelight, but I am a moving star meaning that I’m a reflection of the light of Jesus,” she said.


Stroke survivor Chrystal Rucker recovers to release “You Deserve” – available Aug. 14, 2012

Chrystal Rucker (Photo Provided)

For almost two decades, Chrystal Rucker has been the darling of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) denomination where she’s become known for her own spine-tingling renditions of Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow,” Tramaine Hawkins’ “Changed” and Lecresia Campbell’s classic, “Safety.” Then, in 2007 she suffered a stroke at age 35. If she couldn’t sing, she couldn’t work and over the next two years, she fought hard to get back to full health so that she could sing again and take care of her daughter.


 “When you have someone you have to live for it makes all the difference in the world in your healing process,” Rucker says in a news release.
 
After years of appearing on the albums of other artists, Rucker is back in top form and unveiling her first nationally-distributed solo CD, “You Deserve” (EPM Music Group), a brilliantly fascinating collection of heart-wrenching gospel ballads and pulsating praise tunes that hits retail stores and online portals everywhere on August 14, 2012. The 11-track set features the dynamic radio smash, “You Deserve,” which glistens with Rucker’s cascading high notes and squalls. Rucker also reintroduces Tramaine Hawkins’ 1975 classic, “Changed” and delivers a reverential hymn medley of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “Grateful.”
 
Even though she’s a church girl, Rucker shows she has a flair for urban pop on mid-tempo charmers such as “I Am So Grateful,” the jazzy “Nothing Less” and the infectious hand-clapper, “Make Me Wanna.” She creates a contagious joy on the heart-thumping “Come Bless His Name” while channeling the most poised and refined performance of the album on the soaring anthem, You Will Be My God” that shows off heavenly high notes and a tender sound of praise. For more information on Chrystal Rucker and other EPM Music Group artists, visit www.epmmusicgroup.com or www.chrystalrucker.net.

Gospel singer Troy Sneed to release “All Is Well” on August 7

Gospel music lovers are waiting with eager-ears for Stellar Award winner Troy Sneed’s highly-anticipated seventh solo CD, “All Is Well” (Emtro Gospel), to hit stores on August 7. Throughout the winter and spring months, the Emtro label has been teasing fans of Sneed’s radio smash “All is Well” by not making the song available as a digital download until the CD drops. Now, Sneed has another radio hit, “Lay It Down,” that also won’t be available until the CD is released.

“I am so proud of this record,” Sneed says in a news release. “I put everything into it. I didn’t want people to just hear the radio singles. I wanted my fans to be nudged into listening to the whole album because I really worked to make every song a statement and I stretched myself vocally and in terms of the style of the music. I think a lot of people will be surprised.”

No one was more surprised than Sneed that the new single “Lay it Down” hit the Billboard Top 30 within the same week that the MP3 was emailed to radio.



“Troy Sneed has made it happen once again with a powerful inspirational message that’s simple and to the point in this season of life,” says Connye Bryant at WHLW in Montgomery, AL.

The new CD features urban-flavored songs of praise and worship ranging from the jazzy “Song for You” to  “I Know You Hear Me” that recalls R. Kelly’s “U Saved Me.” The `70s soul groove “All is Well” peaked at No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart, but “Lay it Down” is destined to go all the way to the Top 10 like Sneed’s past hits “My Heart Says Yes”, “Work It Out”, “Hallelujah” and “The Struggle Is Over” which spent several weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart.
 
“Lay it Down” combines an inspiring message of “laying down” life’s problems and a steady Caribbean drum pattern with Sneed’s spine-tingling high notes for an infectious sing-a-long track that’s perfect for the warm summer months. 



“Troy Sneed’s latest record ‘Lay It Down’ has people calling and asking where they can get it,” says Reggie Baker, program director at WPZZ in Richmond. “It is a great follow-up to ‘My Heart Says Yes’ and will be sung on Sunday mornings [at churches everywhere].” 


Mike Gamble, program director of the The Light:  Sheridan Gospel Network adds that, “”Troy has become the inspirational music stylist that delivers powerful words of encouragement in every song.”
 
A special pre-order $7.99 price tag is available for fans that pre-order “All Is Well” on iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/preorder/all-is-well/id544798312.  For more info on Sneed, go to www.troysneed.net or follow him at www.Twitter.com/TroySneed.



Gerald Scott & Co. fuses disparate musical styles on “Incredible” CD

 
For the last five years, Gerald Scott & Co. has been one of the DMV (Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area) metroplex’s top local acts. Now, the dynamic ensemble is poised to become one of the nation’s leading gospel acts. Although, the group has released two successful indie projects in the past, they are stepping up their game with their third CD release, “Incredible” (Habakkuk Music) – in stores now.
 
The bouncy radio single, “Alright,” is reminiscent of a new wave Earth Wind & Fire ’70s jam. 


“We’ve been getting amazing feedback from it,” says Scott in a news release. “It’s very uplifting and encouraging. I like to call it a great song you can roll your windows down and ride to, so people are loving it and I’m just glad about that.” 


Many people are glad, and Scott and company are picking up fans in high places. 
 
“Gerald Scott is a phenomenal songwriter,” says Habakkuk CEO, April Washington Essex. “It’s like he writes from the heart of God. What’s more, he’s got the whole package: anointed ministry, great vocals & arrangements, exciting performance and he’s still young!”  



Scott composed and produced all of the ten songs on the “Incredible” CD that ranges from lush, congregational worship tunes such as “Higher” to the ferocious rock vibe of “No Condemnation.”  In between there are down-home church songs like “God Is Good,” the pop-styled ballad “Back with You” and the exhilarating rhythm of the title tune. Each track shows off not only Scott’s warmly earnest tenor but also the rich harmonies of the company.
 
“We’re going up and down the east coast promoting this CD,” says Scott. “We’re going to be everywhere each weekend – from New York to Orlando, Fla.” 



Follow the group on Twitter @gscottco or go online to http://www.habakkukmusic.com/ .