Gospel Sing Night
Independent Release 2016
By Bob Marovich
Gospel Sing Night, a combination CD and DVD offering from Arkansas-based pianist and singer Marvin Williams, contains the same zestful singing of traditional gospel songs and church hymns that the late Bishop G. E. Patterson presented in 2005 and 2006 in his two-volume Singing the Old Time Way.
One difference between Patterson’s and Williams’s projects: instead of simply offering a congregational singalong, Williams talks about the components of an old fashioned worship service as he presents songs associated with each part. Including everything but the offering and altar call, Williams’s narrative, singing, and musicianship kindle fond and funny memories from audience members, who then join him in the singing.
Although the project is broken into twelve tracks, Williams lifts far more than twelve songs. There are medleys, namely the “Deacon Congregational Medley,” “Hymn Medley,” and “Gospel Medley,” which feature one familiar hymn or gospel after another. A few are Dorseys, such as “The Little Wooden Church on the Hill” and “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” while others are congregational favorites like “Glory, Glory Hallelujah,” and “Come and Go to that Land.”
Williams accompanies himself on piano and is supported by organ and drums. Personally experiencing Williams’ outstanding piano skills, especially when it comes to traditional gospel, it would have been a delight to hear him do a piano solo or two on Gospel Sing Night. And the audience is too far in the background to catch much of the interaction between them and Williams.
Nevertheless, as a singer, pianist, and humorist, Marvin Williams is a force of nature when it comes to reclaiming and perpetuating the songs of Zion. Gospel Sing Night is a joyous reminder of how gospel music can be both spiritual and fun at the same time.
Four of Five Stars
Pick: “The Little Wooden Church.”