Charles Jenkins’ single ‘Grace’ emerges on gospel music charts

Chicago-based artist Charles Jenkins‘ latest finger-snapper, “Grace” (Inspired People/Empire), boasts an old school Motown sample, the sonorous singing of Fellowship Chicago and a dynamic vocal assist from Le’Andria Johnson. Last week, the inspiring, mid-tempo track debuted in the Top 20 on both the Billboard Magazine Gospel Airplay (No. 19) and the Mediabase Gospel Airplay (No. 18) charts. The song anchors Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago’s highly anticipated and, as yet, untitled third album which is expected to release in either the 4th quarter of 2017 or the first quarter of 2018.

The song hits iTunes and all major digital service providers on July 7. The success of “Grace” comes on the heels of Charles Jenkins opening Bishop T.D. Jakes’ bi-annual MegaFest conference with a rousing performance of the song last week in Dallas, where he taught it to an ecstatic audience of thousands. A few days before, Jenkins headlined WLOU 104.7 FM and 1350 AM’s annual SummerFest concert in Louisville, KY. “He just shut the park down,” says WLOU Program Director, Brodric Purvis in a news release. “It was his first time performing in this market and he really gave Louisville a great concert that they will never forget.”

In another career first, prior to jumping on a plane to head to the aforementioned event in Kentucky, Jenkins commanded the stage at Mamby on the Beach in Chicago. The electronic dance music festival drew 30,000 dance music fans to the city’s lakefront and featured EDM superstars such as MGMT, Flying Lotus, Misterwives and Sir the Baptist. Jenkins and his music crew opened the Saturday festivities with an energetic, rousing noon-day program of his urban-flavored tracks such as “Winning,” “Reach for the Sky” and a club rendition of his signature song, “Awesome,” which spent 24 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Airplay chart in 2012. The spectacular set has already earned Jenkins an invitation to perform at next year’s event.

Charles Jenkins celebrates Christmas on Bounce TV’s “Holiday Praise”

Charles Jenkins

Soul Train Award nominated and Stellar Gospel Music Award winning recording artist Charles Jenkins’ “Holiday Praise” yuletide musical program will air at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, Dec. 25 and a repeat broadcast at 9 a.m. on Bounce TV. Check your local TV listings for this program.

The hour-long holiday celebration was filmed at the historic Fellowship Chicago church, featuring an all-star musical lineup. The exhilarating concert features performances by Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell singing “Come Let Us Adore Him” and Grammy Award nominated singer Brian Courtney Wilson reinventing Donny Hathaway’s classic “This Christmas.” Deitrick Haddon delivers a passionate take on Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.” Jonathan McReynolds does a resplendent acoustic cover of “Mary Don’t You Weep” while gospel legend Dorinda Clark Cole sings “Away in a Manger” to a circle of children. The show also features appearances by Tasha Page Lockhart, Isaac Carree, Donishia Ballard, and Dexter Walker & Zion Movement.

Jenkins, who is the pastor of the 8,000-member Fellowship Chicago, initially appeared on the national stage when the world-renowned song “Awesome” topped Billboard Magazine’s Hot Gospel Songs chart for 22 weeks in 2012.  The unforgettable “War” spent five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Airplay chart and was cited by the magazine as the most played gospel song of 2015. Jenkins currently has a Top 10 hit with “Winning,” and his tune “Christmas Music” just made its Hot Gospel Songs chart debut at No. 21.

Mike Reed introduces ‘A Different Kind of Dance’ to listeners

Mike Reed

Mike Reed

When drummer, composer and bandleader Mike Reed isn’t playing music he spends much of his time watching others making it. But he also observes audiences. As a concert and festival organizer, he’s informally noted the interaction between performer and audience for years, and while his rapidly expanding discography makes plain he privileges art above all else, his awareness of the listener is always present.

A New Kind of Dance, the sixth album by his long-running quartet People, Places & Things presents the same deft interactive rapport between alto saxophonist Greg Ward and tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman; the same crisp rhythmic drive provided by the leader and bassist Jason Roebke; and the same indelible mixture of bluesy depth and measured freedom as its superb predecessors. A New Kind of Dance advances the boundaries of the quartet’s repertoire further than ever and adds two guests to the mix: pianist Matt Shipp and trumpeter Marquis Hill.

“I wanted to challenge the quartet situation and make things slightly more dimensional, such as having three-part horn arrangements or having another harmony/rhythm instrument to dictate the path,” Reed said in a recent news release.

“I thought Matthew Shipp would throw some curve balls at the rest of the band. He has some elevated perspectives on improvising, while not standing on top of an ivory tower. His improvising is very humanistic, but he has no problem cutting people down to size, so that everyone can operate on a level playing field. Marquis seemed to be the right choice to find the right trumpet blend with Greg and Tim. His tone can keep things very centered, and he plays with a purpose.”

Here is an older video of People, Places & Things in action.

Composer/drummer Mike Reed releases new project with longtime quartet

reedA New Kind of Dance, the sixth album by Mike Reed’s long-running quartet People, Places & Things presents the same deft interactive rapport between alto saxophonist Greg Ward and tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman; the same crisp rhythmic drive provided by the leader and bassist Jason Roebke; and the same indelible mixture of bluesy depth and measured freedom as its superb predecessors. While the quartet was originally conceived to pay homage to an overlooked era in the rich history of Chicago jazz — namely, the soulful hard bop created by the likes of John Jenkins, Wilbur Campbell, Wilbur Ware, John Neely, and Frank Strozier, among others, in the mid-to-late 50s — the combo has since developed an-ever expanding repertoire, whether examining the potency of the Amsterdam scene on the 2013 album Second Cities Vol. 1 or digging into the music of contemporary Chicago figures on its 2009 album About Us. A New Kind of Dance advances the boundaries of the quartet’s repertoire further than ever.

“I don’t think that the group’s original mission has much to do with this project, but I do think, at its core, the music is meant to be nimble and smart with the arrangements,” says Reed in a news release. “However, it’s never meant to be too smart or removed from the audience.”

Reed’s connections to the Amsterdam scene are rooted in family ties — his mother grew up there — but he’s since developed strong relationships to musicians there. He had befriended the South American expat Sean Bergin, who died in September of 2012, and the influence of his music is very clear A New Kind of Dance. Bergin wrote the hard shuffling “Reib Letsma” and his love of South African kwela has long infected the Dutch scene, as heard on Michael Moore’s ebullient “Kwela for Taylor.”

“There’s an influence of grooving improvised music, mostly made in Europe, but which seems to have an original influence from South Africa,” Reed says. “Many of those early recordings did have some participation by former members of [South African expats] the Blue Notes, which made me look a little closer at that, and then made me realize the correlation between the music of Sean Bergin, ICP and many of the Dutch and some of the English Improvisers. It also seems to parallel the highly conceptual improvising of members of the AACM, who also did not shrug off the more grove-heavy nature of their own musical roots. I guess maybes there’s a desire to remember that this band is enjoyed most on a visceral level and to give in to the area that music effects people viscerally, mostly seen in movement.”

 

Funeral details confirmed for founding member Cleotha Staples in Chicago

Cleotha Staples

Cleotha Staples

Funeral services have been confirmed for Cleotha ‘Cleedi’ Staples (a founding member of the pioneering folk-gospel group, The Staple Singers), who died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease, on Feb. 21, 2013.

“We will keep on,” Mavis Staples says of her sisters’ death in a news release. “Yvonne and I will continue singing to keep our father’s legacy and our sister’s legacy alive.  I just finished my second record with Jeff Tweedy, and it will be dedicated to my dear Cleedi’s memory.”

The viewing takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday Feb. 28 at Leak & Sons Funeral Home, 7838 South Cottage Grove, Chicago. The funeral service takes place at 10 a.m. Friday March 1 at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W 95th Street, Chicago. The burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery. Ms. Staples will be buried in the Staples family plot alongside her father, Roebuck “Pops” Staples; her mother, Oceola Staples; and her sister, Cynthia Staples.

The Staple Singers burst on the national scene in 1956 with the Vee Jay Records hit “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again.” With Pops’ blues-influenced guitar, Cleotha’s bright high notes, Pervis’ falsetto and Mavis rich contralto, they were on their way to stardom. They became one of the biggest gospel outfits of the era and turned out best-selling gospel classics such as “On My Way to Heaven,” “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” “Don’t Knock,” “Pray On” and their signature hit, “Uncloudy Day,” generally accepted to be the first gospel record to sell one million copies.

In the ’60s, the group began to record inspirational mainstream music such as “For What It’s Worth” and “Why? (Am I Treated So Bad).”  By 1968, they had moved on to Stax records where they enjoyed a steady run of Top 40 hits like “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom Yeah)” and “Touch a Hand, Make a Friend” (1974).  The iconic million-seller “I’ll Take You There” spent a week at No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart and four weeks at that spot on the R&B singles chart. The group also earned other million-sellers such as “Respect Yourself” (1971), “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)” (1973) and “Let’s Do It Again” (1975). The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and they also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Cleotha is survived by her siblings Pervis, Yvonne and Mavis; her dedicated caretakers Penny and Sushi; and a loving and wonderful extended family of nieces, nephews and treasured friends.