Gospel Music

Guest Reviewer Will Harris on “Miss Walk Around Heaven All Day”

TBGB reader Will Harris contributes his own review of Cassietta Lerone Baker’s book, Miss Walk Around Heaven All Day: The legendary Cassietta George is one of the gospel industry’s most revered trailblazers. Her trademark voice is often imitated, but it cannot, and will never be, duplicated. Sadly, Mrs. George is not known outside of the tight-knit community of her fans. She has not gotten the acknowledgement she deserves, not even being credited by Moby as the lead vocalist of the 1964 rendition of “Walk Around Heaven,” which was sampled by him for the track titled “One of These Mornings” on ...

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NANM Sings Spirituals (NANM, Inc. 2006)

The National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc.NANM Sings SpiritualsNANM, Inc. 2006www.nanm.org/products.htm In the introduction to NANM Sings Spirituals, Roland Carter, immediate past president of the ninety year-old National Association of Negro Musicians, explains that the purpose of the NANM is the “preservation and cultivation of African American music, with an emphasis on the spiritual.” The concept behind NANM Sings Spirituals, as proposed by NANM members Maxine O’Keefe (Detroit) and Samuel Walker (Altadena, CA), was to capture the orally transmitted, communal, singing of spirituals in the folk tradition, “unarranged – ‘in the raw’.” Thus was it done at the NANM’s 2003 ...

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Bloodline – Time for Change (BAMM Records 2008)

BloodlineTime for Change: Live in ColumbusBAMM Records 2008www.BloodlineMusicGroup.com “Originality with no compromise.” “New Sounds for Generation Now.” “Urban gospel with a twist.” “Crazy Praise.” These are just a few of the ways Bloodline describes itself. Listening to the Richmond, Virginia group’s first full-length project, Time for Change, I must say the descriptions are spot-on. While the lyrics are standard issue from the praise and worship catalog (an exception is the apocryphal “Ready”), the music is far from standard. Bloodline uses its youthful creative energy to conjure a percussive, condensed and complex blend that is parts symphonic rock, hip hop and ...

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I Got Two Wings – Lynn Abbott (CaseQuarter 2008)

I Got Two WingsLynn AbbottCaseQuarter 2008www.aumfidelity.com/casequarter This is the story of an electric guitar-slinging, gospel music singing evangelist from the Church of God in Christ whose popularity was greatest in the 1940s and 1950s. No, I don’t mean Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A lesser-known but equally electrifying musician was Elder Utah Smith. Smith made only a few recordings, and fewer still were released commercially, but he remains indelibly stamped on the memories of those who knew him or heard him play his guitar, sing and preach. In I Got Two Wings: Incidents and Anecdotes of The Two-Winged Preacher and Electric Guitar ...

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Rev. Leroy Taylor, Quartet Pioneer, Died in January

The New Faith Missionary Baptist Church on Chicago’s south side reported that Rev. Leroy Taylor passed away January 8, 2009. Homegoing services were on January 11. The 89 year-old Taylor was a member of the Soul Stirrers and a founding member of the Christland Singers (above). He pastored New Faith from 1973 until 1997 (fellow Stirrer and Christland Singer R.H. Harris was once chairman of the Usher Board), and remained a faithful participant in Sunday services until he fell ill in December. Rev. Taylor will surely be missed by the family of New Faith and by Chicago’s gospel quartet community.

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TBGB Pick of the Week: February 16, 2009

“We’re Going to a Meeting”The Soul StirrersFrom the Malaco CD A Soul Stirring Reunion (2008)www.malaco.com Lead singer Willie Rogers summons the spirit of fellow Stirrers alumni Sam Cooke, Johnnie Taylor, Spencer Taylor and Martin Jacox on “We’re Going to a Meeting.” The song was written by Malaco quartet maven Darrell Luster, but it contains echoes of Cooke’s bubbly pop hit “We’re Having a Party.” The “meeting” the Stirrers sing about in “We’re Going to a Meeting” is in the afterlife, but Rogers reminds us that this is a happy song, and it is. Happy to the last note. And speaking ...

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Retrospective – Blind Boys of Alabama (Sheridan Square Records 2007)

RetrospectiveBlind Boys of AlabamaSheridan Square Records 2007www.sheridansquaremusic.com The Blind Boys of Alabama are among the most anthologized quartets in all of gospel music. For good reason, too – the group has been recording since music was on thick ten-inch discs and Truman was in the White House. Earlier this month, they were presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The group’s three-disc Retrospective on Sheridan Square Records blends recent recordings of the Blind Boys with electrifyingly sanctified, hard-singing early sixties output. The “big oops” is that the vintage recordings are not by the Alabama Blind Boys, but actually by the ...

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Gratitude – Calvin Earl (Back to Basics Records 2004)

GratitudeCalvin EarlBack to Basics Records 2004www.calvinearl.com Following in the footsteps of artists such as Ella Jenkins and Odetta, who performed African American spirituals within a folk music context, Calvin Earl has produced Gratitude. It is Earl’s personal statement of “gratitude” to his ancestors for their gift of the spiritual, which he updates for a 21st century listening audience. According to Earl’s website, his sophomore release was also conceived “to help teachers and students experience the music created by the African people enslaved in America.” But this isn’t your typical Silver-Burdette spiritual collection for the classroom. These arrangements are more in ...

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TBGB Challenge: Gospel Music for Weddings

We use the Bible for a roadmap, but what about using gospel music for a wedding? As thoughts turn lovingly to, well, love this Valentine’s Day, and as planning for spring and summer weddings heats up, TBGB challenges its readers to suggest gospel songs appropriate for a wedding. Make your comments in the “comments” section, and we’ll post the full list in an upcoming blog entry. Submit as many recommendations, and as often, as you wish. You will be helping many couples walk down the aisle in gospel music style! Let’s get started. Here are some wedding-appropriate gospel songs, courtesy ...

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