Tag Archives: Gospel Quartet

Joe Ligon of the Mighty Clouds of Joy Passes Away: Homegoing Details Announced

By Bob Marovich (UPDATED 12/17/16) Gospel quartet legend Willie Joe Ligon passed away on Sunday, December 11. Homegoing and memorial details are at the bottom of this report. Born October 11, 1936, in Troy, Alabama, Ligon migrated to Los Angeles at age 14 and met his future mates in the Mighty Clouds of Joy in the mid-1950s while attending Jefferson High School.  Like top quartets such as the Blind Boys of Mississippi, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Gospelaires of Dayton, the Clouds incorporated the growls, shouts, and rasp of African American preachers into their singing, a style sometimes referred ...

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The Gospel Sensations: Trendsetting With Old School Harmonies

By Bob Marovich To carve out a niche in a quartet community crowded with local and national artists, the Gospel Sensations are employing a time-honored principle that has been all but abandoned in gospel music. A cappella harmony singing. That’s right: trendsetting by going back to the way gospel quartets sang prior to the 1950s: without musical instruments. And people like it. “Sometimes music takes a more commercial turn, and I get that,” said Robert C. Marion Jr., member of the Gospel Sensations. “It takes money to finance a ministry, but the a cappella sound, when it is done right, ...

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Greg Delaine with Brother 2 Brother – 99 1/2 Won’t Do

Greg Delaine with Brother 2 Brother 99 ½ Won’t Do Trumpet Records LLC (2016) www.gregdelaine.com By Bob Marovich On 99 1/2 Won’t Do, Central Florida contemporary gospel quartet Greg Delaine and Brother 2 Brother combines sweet harmonies with hard lead singing and plenty of preaching/testifying. What they have done on this, their latest album, is to recreate the informality of the live program in the recording studio. Extended stories and vamps are techniques quartets use to play to the audience; Brother 2 Brother does it here, but sans audience. The lyrics present simple truths by blending church wisdom, personal belief, movable couplets ...

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Hi-Lite Juniors – A New Beginning

Hi-Lite Juniors A New Beginning Dynasty Productions 2015 https://www.facebook.com/Hilitejuniors/ By Bob Marovich Back in the day, “Junior” quartets were the next generation of singers to come up under the tutelage of a more senior group. Thus, the Seven Star Juniors were the younger proteges of the Seven Stars quartet, and so on. So it is with the Hi-Lite Juniors of Paterson, New Jersey. The quartet was formed in the early 1970s by Milbert “Doc” McKenzie, uncle of the Juniors’ lead singer, Eric McKenzie. Working within the contemporary-traditional blend of Doc’s Gospel Hi-Lites, the Hi-Lite Juniors—now grown men—offer ten selections on ...

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Pilgrim Travelers: Gospel Boogie – Rare Recordings 1946-1957

Pilgrim Travelers Gospel Boogie – Rare Recordings 1946-1957 Gospel Friend (release date: December 18, 2015) www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Per Notini of Gospel Friend has developed a handsome catalog of well-produced collections of classic gospel music that covers quartet, choir, and piano-led groups alike. His latest production, Gospel Boogie – Rare Recordings 1946-57, spotlights one of the top hit makers during gospel’s golden age: the Pilgrim Travelers. What is most striking about this 27-selection retrospective is how it aurally captures the California quartet as it altered its sound to keep up with the musical times, but without diluting one ounce of ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 14, 2015

“Have You Been Shook” The Sons of the Soul Revivers (2015) https://www.facebook.com/TheSonsOfTheSoulReviversOfSanFranciscoCA San Francisco quartet The Sons of the Soul Revivers barrels down in fourth gear on the drive tempo “Have You Been Shook,” singing with the alacrity of their predecessors, the Soul Revivers. Eschewing electronic keys, programmed drums, etc. for raw propulsion from electric guitar, real drum skins, bass, and shouting vocals, the Sons even sound like the former group. The main phrase is one that actually works better in the passive voice: “Have you been shook by the hand of God?”  The song must do well at live ...

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Swan Silvertones – Amen Amen Amen: The Essential Collection

Swan Silvertones Amen, Amen, Amen: The Essential Collection Rock Beat Records /Archives Alive www.rockbeatrecords.com By Bob Marovich Few will dispute that the Swan Silvertones are among the finest gospel quartets to gather around microphones.  From the Reverend Claude Jeter’s haunting falsetto to the Reverend Robert Crenshaw’s explosive improvisations, the Swans rivaled the Dixie Hummingbirds, Sensational Nightingales, Soul Stirrers, Fairfield Four, and Swanee Quintet for the title of baddest men on the gospel highway. Producer Michael Ochs salutes this historic group with Amen, Amen, Amen: The Essential Collection.  This reissue compilation opens with several of the group’s early 1950s Specialty sides—their ...

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The Gospel Angels – I Still Remember

The Gospel Angels I Still Remember Next Level Publishing (2004) www.thegospelangelsdc.com By Bob Marovich I Still Remember has been around for more than a decade—it was released the year the Journal of Gospel Music was born, in fact—but this album by the Gospel Angels of Washington, DC, is worth revisiting because it is emblematic of how much musical fun saving souls can be. First, of the eleven tracks, five are up-tempo selections, more hip-slapping than just about any gospel quartet CD I’ve heard in a long while. One might conclude that the high percentage of “drive tempo” songs is because ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 25, 2015

“In His Hands” The McDonald Sisters Ra-Ola Music Inc. (release date: April 1, 2015) A family group with more than 30 years of gospel singing experience, the McDonald Sisters of Fayetteville, North Carolina, continue to represent traditional gospel quartet with their new single, “In His Hands.” To an aisle-walking, handclapping tempo propelled by distinctive southern soulfulness, the ladies put their burdens and their deliverance in God’s hands. They instruct listeners to do the same. They know whereof they speak. Members Valerie, Deborah, Evelyn, Pamela, and matriarch Priscilla have survived cancer, a stroke, and a ruptured appendix, among other challenges. The ...

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Perfection – “Totally”

Perfection “Totally” Malaco Music Group (2015) www.malaco.com On “Totally,” the members of contemporary quartet Perfection (“Word of God Speak”) declare that they are tired of fighting fate and henceforth give themselves over completely–hands, feet, and heart–to God’s will. “Less of me and more of you” is the new order, sing the group, to a robust modern arrangement. From Tennessee, Perfection is Steve Maples, Gerrod Allen, Christopher Williams, and Kelvin Lake. Tragedy struck the group this past February. Not long after the release of “Totally,” the group’s beloved manager, Barron “Baba” McGlothlin, passed away. Charles Winton Jr. is now managing the quartet.

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