Gospel Music

Kirk Franklin’s Comments on Rance Allen Project “Religiously Haughty”

“Something About the Name Jesus” The Rance Allen Group featuring Kirk Franklin.From the Tyscot LP The Live ExperienceTyscot Records 2004 First of all, don’t get me wrong: I admire and respect the ministries of the Rance Allen Group and Kirk Franklin, and particularly these artists’ musical innovations that took gospel to new heights in the 1970s and 1990s respectively. Both artists have made, and continue to make, compelling gospel music. What I’m not pleased about is Kirk Franklin’s heartfelt but seemingly inappropriate spoken introduction to the live recorded performance of “Something about the Name Jesus” on the Rance Allen Group’s ...

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CD Review — The Bells of Joy: The Collection

The Bells of Joy: The Collection (1951-1954)Acrobat Records 2005www.acrobatmusic.net While the Bells of Joy did not possess superstar lead vocalists as did Peacock labelmates the Sensational Nightingales (June Cheeks), Spirit of Memphis (“Little Axe” Broadnax) and the Dixie Hummingbirds (Ira Tucker), leads A.C. Littlefield and Robert Dawkins were more than capable shouters. And like the Radio Four, the Bells of Joy stayed true to its country quartet roots – despite personnel changes – producing hand-clapping, muscle-twitching, steering wheel-pounding quartet gospel for four different record labels. On Acrobat Records’ reissue of the quartet’s 1951-54 sessions for Peacock Records, you’ll find six ...

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CD Review — Alvin Slaughter: The Faith Life

Alvin Slaughter – The Faith LifeIntegrity Gospel 2005www.integritymusic.com Worship leader Alvin Slaughter possesses a handsome baritone voice reminiscent of crooner James Ingram but sings with the command of a leading man in a Broadway musical. His seventh project, The Faith Life, is a mixture of contemporary Christian music, praise and worship, and gospel, performed with a racially-diverse mass choir before a live audience at the Covenant Love Family Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina. One of the better moments on the CD is Slaughter’s solo performance of “This I Know”/”I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” A lovely piano accompaniment (by Roger ...

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A Great Day in Chicago: Living Legends Honor Dolores “Honey” Sykes

It reminded me of the famous photograph, “A Great Day in Harlem.” This time, however, the venue wasn’t the entranceway of an apartment building but the Monument of Faith Church on Chicago’s South Side, and the artists weren’t jazz performers but living legends of gospel music. On October 22, 2005, at a luncheon honoring the life and work of Dolores “Honey” Sykes, a member of the famed Duncanaires and Thompson Community Singers, a group of pioneering gospel artists gathered to witness Honey receive an honorary doctorate of divinity. The photo capturing the auspicious moment – with Honey in full academic ...

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CD Review: Danny Brooks – Rock This House

Danny Brooks – Rock This House His House Records 2005www.dannybrooksmusic.com Danny Brooks holds claim to the title of Blue-Eyed Soul Man of Canada. He has a true love and deep respect for African-American roots music and the vocal chops to do it justice. Imagine a saved Springsteen and you have an idea of Danny Brooks’ sound. His latest release is called Rock This House, the second installment of his “Soulsville” series. The inspirational lyrics are drawn from the font of his personal struggles, but rather than offer a litany of tribulations for the listener to ponder, Brooks endows his songs ...

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Essential Gospel — Classic Recordings: No. 128

“Get Right Church” – Dixie Hummingbirds Peacock 17641956 The style, showmanship, and musical skill of the Dixie Hummingbirds are evident from the first few bars of this remarkably fun 1956 recording. While many quartets of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s had a guitarist open their recordings by picking through the individual notes of a chord to provide members with their pitches, on “Get Right Church,” guitarist Howard Carroll dazzles with a quick, energetic riff that prepares the listener for the Birds’ more polished, professional quartet singing. Ira Tucker then uses this riff as his springboard, launching right into the song ...

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CD Review: Various Artists – Texas Gospel: Come on Over Here (Volume 1: 1951-53)

Various Artists – Texas Gospel: Come on Over Here (Volume 1: 1951-53)Acrobat Records ACMCD 42092005www.acrobatmusic.net Once again, Acrobat Records of England has given us a sampling of rare gospel recordings from the 1950s, many tracks that have not, until now, been available on a commercial reissue. This collection could easily have been titled, “Early Recordings from the Vaults of Duke/Peacock,” for that is what Acrobat has given us. Hence the Texas appellation, since Don Robey’s Peacock and Duke labels were headquartered in Houston, though the featured artists hail from cities such as Chicago and Memphis. The quartet recordings are mostly ...

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CD Review: Ministry Mark A. Smith

MinistryMark A. SmithDanbla Records 2005www.danblarecords.com Mark A. Smith is a pleasant gospel balladeer with better than average talent who infuses his quiet-storm gospel production with hip hop, rap, and jazz stylings to great effect. In fact, the tracks on which Smith experiments with styles not often associated with gospel music are the clear standouts on this overall fine project. The hip hop quality of “Get Ready” is very energizing, as is the rap-infused “Try Jesus,” with Brad “Changed Man” Reid providing the rap vocals. “Restoration” is the most infectious and radio-friendly performance in the collection, but “I’m Blessed” comes in ...

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Warriors “Work it Out” for Katrina Victims

I lament that most of today’s gospel music does not take a stand on political and social issues in the way that gospel artists from the ’40s to the ’70s had done. While this isn’t quite the rage-against-the-machine that I am suggesting, “Work It Out – The Katrina Remix” is at least an effort to harness the power of gospel music to comment on the country’s current social tragedy. And of course, wouldn’t you know it — it’s one of the gospel pioneers that has taken the first step. Way to go, Dr. Hayes and the Warriors! Now, who will ...

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CD Review: Happy in the Service of the Lord – Spirit of Memphis

Happy in the Service of the Lord: 1949 – 1954The Spirit of Memphis QuartetAcrobat ADDCD 3007www.acrobatmusic.net2005 If you know anything about the Spirit of Memphis, all I have to say is that Happy in the Service of the Lord includes their seminal King recordings, and you will know immediately that it is a fantastic, soul-stirring, spine-tingling listening experience. In addition, it is the most comprehensive collection of the quartet’s work commercially available on compact disc. Included on the two-CD collection are all of the Spirit of Memphis Quartet’s early recordings, from their limited-pressing Hallelujah Spirituals 78 and national debut on ...

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