Gospel Music

Classic Gospel — Essential Recordings: Week 119

Farther Along – The Skylarks 1951 Nashboro 513 [available on Pewburner CD 527: Skylarks of Nashville, Vol. 1 (1951-1954); available from www.pewburner.com] In 1951, at the time “Farther Along” was recorded, the Skylarks were Willie Jefferson, Wilson Paige, James S. Hill, and Issac “Dickie” Freeman. Neither “Roberts” – Crenshaw nor Broussard – had joined the organization just yet. While the Skylarks were always a powerful quartet, especially in their early days, the group’s greatest asset was Dickie Freeman, arguably the greatest bass singer in gospel music. Freeman and fellow Skylarks James Hill and Edward Thomas (who had left the Skylarks ...

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Classic Gospel — Essential Recordings: Week 118

“I’m Glad” 1971 The GMWA Mass Choir feat. James Cleveland and Thurston Frazier Savoy LP 14281 “I’m Glad” comes to us from the early years of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA), when musical giants roamed the earth. Those were the days when gospel pioneers such as James Cleveland, Thurston Frazier, Mattie Moss Clark, Robert Fryson, and the O’Neal Twins contributed their talents to the GMWA, setting in motion what has become a commercially and artistically successful convention. No disrespect intended to the many wonderful people who organize the GMWA today, but to have such gospel music history collected ...

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Gospel, blues have a night on town

Legendary pianists join, and the keyboards ring By Aaron Cohen Special to the Chicago Tribune November 20 2004, 4:00 AM CST About 80 years ago, a new kind of music shocked some churchgoers. The sound was called gospel blues and its creators, notably Thomas A. Dorsey, caused a stir because they brought tunes from Chicago streets to replace more staid hymns. Friday’s second annual Piano Night at the Old Town School of Folk Music brought together legendary pianists representing the gospel and blues traditions. By the end of the night, the audience could get an idea of how that musical ...

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CD Review: Glory! Glory! Reverend Dwayne R. Mason (The Sirens, 2004)

First of all, kudos to Steven Dolins of The Sirens Records for the consistently high production quality of his releases. This is the second project I’ve heard from this Highland Park, Illinois-based label that has as its mission the preservation of roots piano. Each CD sounds as if the musicians are performing in your living room. This independent label puts some major labels to shame when it comes to musical clarity. In 2003, Rev. Dwayne R. Mason, founder and pastor of Body Soul & Spirit Ministries on Chicago’s south side, graced the label with his prodigious piano talents honed through ...

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CD Review: Whatever Brought You Out – Alton Woodley, Jr. and Percy Carter, Jr. (Perseverance, 2004)

Hailing originally from Chicago’s West Side, Percy Carter, Jr. and Alton Woodley, Jr. recently released Whatever Brought You Out on Perseverance Records. This is a very pleasant project, fun to listen to, and the melodies are memorable long after the CD stops spinning. This is not surprising, as both Carter and Woodley (who is legally blind) have lengthy musical resumes that include tours in both sacred and secular music. Consummate professionals, Carter and Woodley perform extremely well together. Although their vocal toolkit does not include the drama and melismatic acrobatics characteristic of sanctified singers, their baritone voices are appealing and ...

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Emerging Artists: NU DNA

NU DNA is made up of Midwesterners Larry and Marc Frye and Kelvin Moore. According to the group’s press kit, “NU DNA is what happens to a person’s Deoxyribonucleic Acid after just one real encounter with Christ.” Recognizing that biochemical theology is not a subject typically bantered about in gospel music circles, the listener is primed and ready for a fresh new approach to gospel music. The group doesn’t disappoint. NU DNA’s groove is more R. Kelly than T. Dorsey, and will therefore appeal more to urban contemporary gospel legions than old-schoolers, but no matter. On the promo tracks I ...

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New Book Explores Chicago COGIC Gospel Music History

When one thinks of Chicago gospel, names such as Thomas Dorsey, Roberta Martin, Kenneth Morris, Sallie Martin, and Mahalia Jackson come to mind. But there were many other shining lights in the Chicago gospel music community “back in the day,” and many of them came out of the Church of God in Christ. Mack C. Mason’s recently published book, Saints in the Land of Lincoln (Faithday Press), examines in detail the Chicago COGIC gospel music scene. As I write in my forward to the book: “With Saints in the Land of Lincoln, Elder Mack C. Mason has contributed invaluably to ...

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“Lord’s Prayer” Arrangement Gets “Second Chance”

Judge Not, the debut CD from Omaha, Nebraska-based quartet Second Chance (Higher Praise Records), is slated for release on November 26, 2004. The project’s magnum opus is a mostly a cappella rendition of “Lord’s Prayer.” It sounds strikingly similar to the beautiful arrangement that Rev. Claude Jeter and the Swan Silvertones gave the prayer in 1956 (Vee Jay 232). Second Chance member Courtney Jackson tells The Black Gospel Blog that the resemblance between the two recordings is not entirely coincidental, as the quartet based its arrangement on one Jackson learned from Willie Donald when both were members of the Omaha ...

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Emerging Artist Spotlight: Dana Divine

It’s not entirely accurate to call Dana Divine an “emerging artist,” as she has a sizable music resume, including more than a dozen singles to her credit, and is well known for originating the “Gospel Slide” (“I wanna get funky for Christ”), perhaps the first time in music history that a gospel recording launched a dance craze. But since the Gospel Announcers Guild of the Gospel Music Workshop of America has now officially approved “Gospel DJ [aka club DJ]” as a membership category, it’s time “gospel house” got its due as an emerging art form. On Dana’s exquisite CD, A ...

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Classic Gospel – Essential Recordings: Week 117

“View the City” — Rizen 2003 On CD Rizen (Light Records) Their official website (www.rizen.biz) calls Michigan-born Rizen a “retro gospel girl group.” That makes perfect sense. Shades of the Caravans, Davis Sisters, Ward Singers and Gospel Harmonettes spring to mind upon hearing Rizen – Adriann and Aundrea Lewis, Kanika Trigg, and Ashley Jones – sing “View the City.” Watch them perform this song live – and their new DVD makes this as easy as pie to do – and you’ll wonder whether you’ve traveled back in time. The four ladies are as energetic as they sound, preaching the song ...

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