La Noire Vol. 7, Shout, Shout!
[engl] Greetings record lovers everywhere! In these troubling times the esteemed producers of the LaNoire series have curated a gospel record to help us all see the light-the light that is sure to be found in music. Here we now turn to the archives and drop the needle on more vintage gospel, right on time.
We start our collection with “Shout Shout” from the Reverend Cleophus Robinson. Reverend Robinson was born in Mississippi in 1932, and he learned to sing while in the cotton fields with his Mother, who was to those that heard her, a phenomenal singer. The Reverend may be best known for his coast to coast television show which was broadcast for over twenty-five years in America. In 1948 he moved briefly to Chicago and performed with the Roberta Martin Singers. That group just happened to have a member named Mahalia Jackson. This is a side from the early 1950’s on Peacock Records out of Houston, Texas, with the wonderful Napoleon Brown accompanying on piano.
Another Peacock recording on “The Worlds Greatest Spirituals,” at 2809 Erastus Street in Houston, features Sister Josephine James singing “Straight Road.” Sister James recorded with the above Reverend Robinson for the label. If you listen to these records for the first time you will be moved by the blending of voices…and it will come as no surprise that Sister James and Reverend Robinson are brother and sister. Sister James also moved to Chicago and formed a quintet called the Five Queens of Zion. She was a prolific songwriter and has dozens of gospel recordings attributed to her during this era. The duets with her brother will stand the test of time as some of the most beautiful close harmony gospel singing as long as these records are heard.
“I need your Power” by the Singing Sons appears here on the Gospel Corner label. Gospel Corner, out of Los Angeles, was started by rhythm and blues rocker Sylvester “Duke” Henderson. “Duke” got out of the rock and roll business to start the label, and had most notably cut the first sides of The Pilgrim Travelers. Gospel Corner was a very distinguished label on the sacred music scene due to the great talent of “Duke” Henderson’s production skills which can be heard on this cut.
Broadcast Music Incorporated, BMI, aptly gave this number by the Kelly Brothers the emotive, “This group sings this supplication in strong jubilant terms!” Yes indeed. Specialty Records is known for the list of power hitters on the label out of New Orleans. In Los Angeles Art Rupe also recorded and released, on Specialty, many gospel recordings. Some of those of course featured Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers. Here we have the side “I’ve made it at Last.”
Next up we hear Sylvia Spurling, a fine pianist and sacred singer on a side from the little known TAT’s records. Here she gives us “Yes He Did.”
The Gay Sisters are made up of four family members who grew up in Chicago, and attended All Nations Pentecostal Church. All Nations was famed for gospel music musicians, most notably the fellow congregant Rosetta Nubin, the future Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The Gay Sisters hit with an up-tempo bluesy number on the Savoy label in 1951 and the sisters had tremendous success until Mahalia Jackson, jealous of these upstarts, accused the Gay’s of using musicians that were not union affiliated; a huge problem for the time. This crushed the Gay Sisters hopes of releasing new sides for Decca records. Tragically, Geraldine Gay spent time in prison after her deceitful cheating husband beat her, and she shot and killed him. Geraldine was released after a few months as the trial judge judiciously ruled the case a justifiable homicide. The Gay Sisters are a true Chicago story…This side, “On My Way to Heaven” is on the BandF label. Geraldine died in 2010, but was making rare local live appearances, and recording sides for the Sirens label as recently as 2007.
Side A of our record rounds out with gospel harmony from New York City’s Apollo records, and The Larks. Now hear this… The Larks; Gene Mumford, Raymond “Pee-Wee” Barnes, Alden Bunn, Hadie Rowe, Thermon Ruth and David McNeil were known in North Carolina as The Jubilators. After perfecting their skills with music lessons on harmony and choreography, they piled into Bunn’s car and headed to NYC. There they plotted a day to run from studio to studio and record as many songs as possible. They were broke, and knew that they would only be paid up-front for the songs recorded, and never see any royalty money. So, they recorded sides at Jubilee records, Regal records in Jersey, Savoy records in Newark and back to Apollo records in Manhattan. To cash in they recorded under the band names; the Jubilators, the Selah Singers, the Southern Harmonaires and The 4 Barons. Seventeen masters for four companies in two days! Here we have a side cut for Apollo in December of 1950, “Shadrack.”
Things are getting brighter as we flip to the B side to hear a cut on Nashboro records, a subsidiary of the Excello records Company. Brother Joe May was born in Mississippi and later moved to East St. Louis, Illinois. There he honed his singing and musicianship skills with Willie Mae Ford Smith. Brother Joe cut some records for Specialty and remarkably sold millions of records regionally with out ever charting. He toured as a musician with the Soul Stirrers and Pilgrim Travelers. Little Richard has always cited Brother May as a musical inspiration. This obviously can be heard on, “Wake Me Shake Me.”
The Hardmen Singers give us, “Living in a New World” on Peacock, and we then head back to Gospel Corner records for, “Going Home” by Prince Dixon which was one of the last sides released by the famed Gospel label.
Bessie Griffin may be best known for her work with The Caravans, a leading and legendary gospel group. After moving to Los Angles and forming The Pearls, the group was among the first to perform in the secular world of nightclubs and television. They appeared frequently on The Ed Sullivan show and Hootenanny. After her side on Specialty, we head back to Chicago for a side from the Caravans, “Wade in the Water” with the wonderful Edward Robinson on piano and Louise Overall Weaver on organ.
Songbird is a late spinoff label to Houston’s Peacock. Songbird was launched in 1963 featuring white singers and vocal groups becoming more popular in the Christian heavy South. This cut, “Don’t Have to Worry,” by Jean Austin is a funky grooved number which could find itself easily played next to some of the soul hits of the era.
Finally and fittingly we hear, “Sand in the Storm” by the Gospel Clefs. The Clefs have had a lasting legacy in Chicago due to one of our most respected disc jockeys, Herb Kent, “The Cool Gent.” Kent had been on Chicago radio, until his death this year, for more then seventy years. He closed each show with the Gospel Clef’s, “Open up our Eyes.” All Chicagoans who dig radio know this song. We leave you with hope for all of our futures, and the Gospel Clef’s rendition of “Sand in the Storm,” on the Savoy label,
out of Newark, New Jersey.
We wish you peace and joy, and again give thanks to the producers at Doghouse and Bone and the LaNoire record series for giving these beautiful voices the ability to shout as long as these records are played.