Classic Gospel – Essential Recordings: Week 113

“Great Get’n Up Morning”/”Get Away Jordan”

D.C. Christian Harmonizers

North American (no #) ca. mid-60s

Back in the 1950s and early to mid-1960s, one side of a pop single very often contained a medium or quick-tempo song for fast dancing, and the other side a slower, ballad-style recording for slow, “blue light” dancing. This happened in gospel as well: one side of the single frequently contained a quick-tempo, “let’s have church” style recording, and the other a lining hymn, gospel ballad, or other slow-tempo arrangement. The latter often allowed talented soloists to really stretch their voices out and demonstrate their melismatic skills.

And, as was often the case, one side was better than the other side. When both sides of the single were equally stunning, however, you had what collectors today call a “double-sider.”

The D.C. Christian Harmonizers’ single for the Washington D.C.-based North American label is definitely a “double sider.” Both “Great Get’n Up Morning” and “Get Away Jordan” are propelled by quick-tempo accompaniment and hard gospel singing, presumably by Lucius McInnis. While the songs are based on spirituals, they have been thoroughly “gospelized” with a mid-60s hard gospel quartet sound and a fast-driving rock-and-roll instrumentation. If there is any flaw, it is that “Great Get’n Up Morning” ends very abruptly, leaving the listener wanting more.

The D.C. Christian Harmonizers made at least one other single, this time for the prolific Pinewood label. Pinewood, along with labels like Memphis’ Designer, made a living recording local quartets, in most instances so the groups could carry a stack of records with them to sell at their programs. Although the labels likely saw their value as providing quartets with records to sell, their real value in retrospect is the preservation of the sound of amateur and semi-professional gospel quartets of the 1950s through the 1970s — quartets like the D.C. Christian Harmonizers. Without them, these aural snapshots might otherwise have never been captured for posterity’s sake.

Bob Marovich

About Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.

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