Chris Byrd & the Heavenaires
From the album Diversified (released August 2016)
Available from digital music outlets
Chris Byrd and the Heavenaires dust off and update “Operator,” the Cleveland-based Friendly Brothers’ 1959 classic covered in the 1970s by a cappella vocal group the Manhattan Transfer. In their hands, it is now known as “Operator 911.”
It doesn’t matter that the telephone operator has gone the way of the telephone booth and directory assistance. With a funky, bass-driven beat and a call-and-response vamp (“It’s a matter of urgency / I’m calling 911”), the quartet makes it its own and demonstrates the resiliency of the telephone metaphor in getting hold of Jesus.
The song comes from Byrd’s Diversified CD, which celebrates his 25 years in music. The album includes duets with other artists, including Bishop Rance Allen, who was Byrd’s mentor when the artist was first called to the ministry.