My New Year’s wish to all of you…for “Better Days Ahead”.
Dorothy Norwood is one of the venerable women of gospel and was a member of The Caravans in the early ’60s, a legendary group of female singers who all became gospel superstars in their own right in the years to come. The Caravans included gospel music legends as the Queen of Gospel, Albertina Walker, who was also Dorothy’s role model and confidant, Shirley Caesar, Inez Andrews, Delores Washington and the late Rev. James Cleveland as music director.
This is one of the more clever gospel songs I know. Dottie Peoples has been around for a long time, but has never really gained first tier notoriety among the top female gospel singers. I’m not sure why; she has a great voice and the songs she chooses to sing are well written and well produced. Since she is one of my favorites, you’ll be hearing more from her as 2016 goes on.
For more about Dottie, read her bio on Wikipedia. One fact not mentioned in her bio is that as a young woman, she performed secular music under the name of Dottie Pearson and released one album, “A House Made of Love”
Here are the lyrics in the song I find so clever.
He’s a Psychiatrist – He’ll bring peace to your troubled mind Podiatrist – …Place your feet on solid ground Dermatologist – He’ll wash you and make you clean Optometrist – Open your eyes so you can see
I’m back having had the most fun Christmas ever with my kids in Portland OR. Now it’s back to real work and to the fun task of adding more posts to the Song of the Day Blog.
Today’s entry is from one of my most favorite choirs (favoritest???), the Florida Mass Choir. I’m not sure what it is about this song, but I always feel uplifted and a bit weepy by the end of this song.
Love this song too…time to get your praise on!! The section of the song they call the “Praise Rock” (2:13) has a riff right out of the 1968 Top 40 and R&B #1 hit, “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell and the Drells from Houston Texas. (“We don’t only sing but we dance just as good as we walk.”) If you know the song, you’ll recognize it immediately.
The longtime principal vocalist for the Mississippi Mass Choir, Lillian Lilly was born in Wesson, MS, where she began singing at age six; with twin sister Carolyn, as a teen she performed as one half of the Two Star Juniors, which later expanded its line-up and became the Traveling Stars. After the group disbanded in the early 1970s, Lilly returned to Mississippi to work in a local lawnmower factory; she continued singing gospel in her spare time, however, opening for the likes of the Mighty Clouds of Joy and the Jackson Southernaires. In 1988 she was tapped to join the Mississippi Mass Choir, appearing on hit LPs including 1991’s God Gets the Glory and 1995’s New Creation. Lilly’s debut solo album, Gotta Have Faith, followed in 1997, and Other Part of Me appeared in 1999.
Martha Munizzi is a praise and worship leader who has crossed cultural and denominational barriers with her soulful singing, much sought after songwriting (she has had her songs recorded by Beverly Crawford, Alvin Slaughter, Clint Brown and a host of others), with an ability to lead others into God’s presence.
Munizzi grew up singing southern gospel and is immensely popular in the black gospel market. One journalist observed that while many black gospel artists find wide crossover success in the adult/contemporary and pop markets, it’s rarer to find white artists who have a strong, staying presence among black gospel fans. Munizzi may be the poster child for such crossovers; she became the first non-African American artist to ever win a Stellar Award. Her ministry takes her almost exclusively to African American churches across the country, which is where she says she is most at home. “The church we attended was very multi-racial, and so that was where I really felt the most comfortable,” says Munizzi.
Munizzi spends a lot of time ministering alongside some of gospel music’s greatest voices, including Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, and Fred Hammond, to name only a few. Asked if she ever receives some friendly ribbing about sticking out like a sore thumb, Munizzi laughs. “Everybody else points out that I’m always the only white person,” she says, “but I don’t think about it. My colleagues will say, ‘Is everybody treating you right?’ Everyone celebrates what God is doing. They just really care about what’s anointed. If it’s blessing people and changing people, that’s really the bottom line. It’s like Israel Houghton said, ‘It’s not a black thing, it’s not a white thing; it’s a Jesus thing.’”
You Can Call On The Lord AnytimeChicago Mass Choir4:53
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The ensemble was founded in 1988 by James C. Chambers, who was also the founder of the Ecclesiastes Community Choir. Their debut album was issued in 1991; that year they were named Best New Artist at the Gospel Music Excellence Awards. The following year they won the award for Song of the Year for “I Can Go to the Rock”. They released several commercially successful albums over the course of the 1990s and 2000s. Percy Gray (one of my favorite gospel composers) also is part of the Chicago Mass Choir.
Scientists say that the icecaps in the arctic are beginning to melt, and they blame it on holes in the ozone layer. If they ever listen to the Alaska Mass Choir, they may want to quickly adjust their theories.
With enough heat to melt icecaps on both poles, Alaska Mass comes through with Right Now God, a sizzling live choir collection that steams and lights fires in delivering choir power par excellence. Add in frequent solos from Dorinda Clark-Cole and you’ve got yourself another winner from JDI Records.
Alaska Mass Choir CDA trio of maestros guides and produces the project: Don H. Williams, the choir’s musical director Michael Bereal as well as industry veteran Jason White.
Setting the tone is the first song, the title track from Clark-Cole. Fronting the uptempo cut with those unmistakeable Clark-patterned vocals, she pours run after riff and run into her offering. Choir matches her, phrase by phrase, with White’s shimmering B3 and Bereal’s busy keyboards bolstering the composition. The song is given a lengthy and welcome reprise mid-album.
Clark-Cole continues with a new arrangement of “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus”, starting off slowly on her own, backed by traditional piano accompaniment. As the song steadily climbs in intensity, Alaska Mass enters with repeated lines of “oh for grace”, nicely embellished by classic phrasing.
That’s hardly where it ends, as Clark continues with her song “Joy, Great Joy”. Brassy horns punch out the jubilation, with immediate mass vocals no doubt melting the Anchorage snows, setting up Clark’s entry. She proceeds to scat and ad lib in inimitable Clark fashion all the way to the song’s vamp-out finish.
“Oh What He’s Done” is the most contemporary of the songs on Right Now God, with Clark reassuring that she is also masterful with a groove.
The project also features the choir’s bass player, T.C. Bereal, who steps out vocally on three songs. Showing a soulful flair, his work contrasts wonderfully with Dorinda’s. There’s a praise and worship flow on the powerful “Jehovah Jireh” and a similar vibe on the solo piece, “You Alone Are Worthy”. Bereal’s spirit shines easily shines through with God-directed praise, ministering to us in the process.
No one familiar with The Clark Sisters can forget Twinkie Clark’s “Trust In Him”, made unforgettable by the version that featured Rance Allen. That song is covered here, and given a gentle rearrangement by Don Williams, with Dorinda and Michael Bereal taking duet duties. Muted horns mark the cut.
The album concludes with the uptempo tambourine festival of “Christian Race” (with Bereal on lead), and the well-crafted, choir-only “River of Life” from Williams, which showcases Alaska Mass’ overall pleasing sound.
It just cannot be overemphasized. This is one top notch CD, and not merely because Dorinda Clark-Cole is all over it. Prepare to be startled with the overall quality, and certainly prepare to lay aside any preconceived geographical prejudices.
Okay, this isn’t gospel, but the Glide Ensemble IS a gospel choir…and more. I love this because I love the essence of the work. The poetry is by Janice Mirikitani (see below) presenting her two works “Who Is Singing This Song” and “Bad Women”. I LOVE “Bad Women”…worth a second (or third) listen. Back to true gospel tomorrow.
Glide Memorial Church is a church in San Francisco, California, affiliated with the United Methodist Church, which opened in 1930. Although conservative until the 1960s, since then it has served as a counter-culture rallying point and has been one of the most prominently liberal churches in the United States. Glide is also famous for its Gospel Choir and numerous social service programs. Its contributions to the community have been recognized by public figures such as Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Clinton; as well as Warren Buffett, who contributed the value of an auctioned lunch on eBay.
Janice Mirikitani (born February 4, 1941) is an American Sansei poet and activist. She was born in Stockton, California, to Shigemi and Ted Mirikitani, who were Nisei farmers in San Joaquin County. During World War II, she was interned along with her family at the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas. Following the war, the Mirikitani family moved to Chicago. After her parents were divorced, Janice was brought back to a chicken farm at Petaluma, California, with her mother, where they would be near the remainder of their family. During the time that followed, Janice Mirikitani became the victim of sexual molestation by her step-father up to the age of sixteen,and was saved from suicide only by the love and care of her grandmother. She would later speak of the pain of her incestuous abuse through her poetry.
Janice attended UCLA, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. During this time, she struggled with her ethnic identity, which she would later portray through her poetry. After gaining her teaching credentials, she taught in the Contra Costa School District for a year. She worked at Glide Memorial Church in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco as an administrative assistant.
After two years of activism for Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in 1969 she became the program director. In 1982 Mirikitani was married to Reverend Cecil Williams. That same year she was chosen as the president of the Glide Foundation, where she was responsible for fund raising and budget oversight. In 2000, she was named the second poet laureate for the city of San Francisco. The California State Assembly named her Woman of the Year for the 17th Assembly District
Sinikithemba Choir is an all-female HIV-positive South African choir. The only available CD is “Living Hope” released 2003. I had the privilege to hear them perform at Harvard’s Memorial Church when the group was on tour many years ago; a very moving event.
I love African music and this song just grabs me when I hear it. I love singing along with the bass line even though some of the lower notes are barely a growl for me.