Essential Gospel — Classic Recordings: No. 128

“Get Right Church” – Dixie Hummingbirds
Peacock 1764

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 with his confident, expressive tenor voice.

What also distinguishes this recording from many quartet records of Gospel’s Golden Era is the group’s harmonic precision, attack, energy, and powerful call-and-response vamp. It’s an aural example of the Birds’ ability to wring every ounce of utility from a song, whether on the altar, stage, or in the studio. Mostly, however, it showcases the great Dixie Hummingbirds at the top of their game.

As talented as many of today’s artists and songwriters are, modern gospel music rarely comes close to the rich, exciting, and memorable sounds that sprang forth when church songs spun at 78 revolutions per minute.

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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