Traditional Gospel

Evelyn Starks Hardy Dies; Member of the Original Gospel Harmonettes

By Bob Marovich Anthony Heilbut informed JGM this morning that Evelyn Starks Hardy, an original member of the Gospel Harmonettes, has died. Hardy, along with Mildred Madison Howard and Odessa Edwards, students at Birmingham’s Parker High School, formed the Gospel Harmonettes in 1940. They were among the first female African American gospel groups to sign with a major label (RCA Victor). In 1947, Hardy heard Dorothy Love Coates sing on a radio broadcast and recommended she join the group.  With Coates, the group became national recording and touring stars, one of the leading lights of gospel’s Golden Age. Heilbut notes ...

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Mississippi Mass Choir – Declaration of Dependence

Mississippi Mass Choir Declaration of Dependence Malaco Records (2014) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Halfway through Declaration of Dependence, the Mississippi Mass Choir’s latest album, I realized that the choir has inherited the mantle once worn by the celebrated Thompson Community Singers. Just as music ministers could not wait for the latest Tommies album to discover new songs and arrangements to teach their church choirs, Mississippi Mass Choir albums offer the same opportunity for today’s directors. Miss Mass hits such as “He’ll Carry You,” “God Made Me,” and “When I Rose This Morning” went from CD to choir lofts around the ...

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Cleveland Cole Dies; Father-in-Law of Dorinda Clark Cole

Marcel West of Detroit reported to the Journal of Gospel Music that Mr. Cleveland Cole, father-in-law of Dorinda Clark Cole and a musician in his own right, passed away Sunday morning. Marcel adds that Cole was the president of the famous Southwest Michigan State Choir of the Church of God in Christ, under the direction of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. His homegoing arrangements are below:

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Delores “Honey” Sykes – Another Soldier Gone Home

I was so dismayed to hear that Delores “Honey” Sykes of the Duncanaires and Thompson Community Singers, has passed away. I spoke with her sometime last month and although she had been on dialysis for some time, there wasn’t any indication that her illness was so acute.  She was a very generous and friendly person. Honey was a young member of Chicago’s Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ when, in 1952, she and several church friends organized a singing group and named it after Roberts Temple’s Elder Edgar J. Duncan.  The Duncanaires became known as the “Gospel Wonders of ...

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Documentary of Detroit Choir Resounds with Hallelujahs

By Bob Marovich, Journal of Gospel Music “Good things can still come out of Detroit.” This comment, from Let’s Have Some Church Detroit Style, might as well serve as the documentary’s subtitle. Directed by Michigan filmmaker Andrew Sacks, Let’s Have Some Church Detroit Style tells the story of Dr. E. LaQuint Weaver II and The Hallelujah Singers, a 25-member community choir from Detroit nominated in 2014 for nine Rhythm of Gospel Awards, including the highest honor, CD of the Year. The film explores the personal lives of Weaver and his choristers while chronicling the group’s preparation to attend the awards ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 10, 2015

“I Got Better Coming” LaVarnga Hubbard Utopia Music Group (2015) On her new single, Lady LaVarnga Hubbard of Chicago has “got better coming,” and she’s not afraid to shout down the church rafters to let you know. Church shouting is what the “Duchess of Gospel Music” does.  She rollicks along on the up-tempo, traditional-laden “I Got Better Coming” like a twin sister of fellow Chicagoans Lemmie Battles or Angie Spivey. Old-fashioned gospel music will never die as long as the likes of Lady LaVarnga have a breath in their body. She comes from the Caravans-Davis Sisters-Gospel Harmonettes tradition, where Zion ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 3, 2015

“He Delivered Me” Pastor Marlon Lock From the CD Good Seed Project www.pastormarlonlock.com Pastor Marlon Lock’s testimonial “He Delivered Me” has all the flavor of a quartet song, complete with the up-tempo southern-fried backbeat, the congregational song lyric, the call and response between male background vocalists, and the extended vamp. It is fun, communal-style handclapping gospel music The pastor’s love for quartet singing goes way back. His first solo, at age ten, came from the Mighty Clouds of Joy songbook. He cites Lee Williams and the Spiritual QCs among his influences. The Clouds’ Earvin Williams guests on the Good Seed Project ...

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Mahalia Jackson Story to Hit the Silver Screen

From a press release: Bill Duke (left) brings his years of talent and experience to direct and executive produce The Mahalia Jackson Story, a music biopic chronicling the life of the woman who rose from poverty and obscurity to become the world’s greatest gospel singer and a music icon and legend. “Getting her story to the screen has been a passion project of mine for many years,” said Duke, who has more than 60 features, TV shows, and TV movies to his credit. The Mahalia Jackson Story was written by Ruth L Ratny, based on Just Mahalia Baby, Jackson’s seminal ...

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