Not sure why I haven’t posted this song before; it’s a Hezekiah Walker classic. The song was written by Professor Melvin Crispell, a great Brooklyn born gospel composer/musician who died at age 46 in 2014. Both a musical and textual tribute to him is provided below. Sadly his talented wife, Tunesha Crispell, a great gospel singer herself died of cancer two years later.
Wonderful Is Your NameHezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Choir5:51
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And here is an organ tribute to Melvin by organist Cory Henry.
Wonderful Is Thy NameCory Henry5:03
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On Thursday, May 29, 2014 gospel music and truthfully music at large, lost one of the most prolific musicians and composers of our time. Professor Melvin Crispell has died.
In music circles, jazz and gospel especially, to be dubbed a “Professor” is a title of the highest honor because it doesn’t just mean you’re good or even great. There will always be good and great musicians, songwriters, etc. But there’s something about being deemed so great that other greats want to learn from you. Think about it. There are a finite number of keys and pedals on an organ or piano. And after years of existence, one would suppose that with this limited resource at some point it would be almost impossible to create a unique or specific sound that had not already been heard or created. People have been playing and composing music for centuries before Melvin Crispell was ever born. Surely, they’d played or discovered every note, chord, and progression there was to find. But every now and then, someone comes and breaks the limits off of an instruments limitation. They miraculously discover infinite possibilities inside of a finite construct. I feel like I’m using big words and sounding rather lofty because I’m struggling to properly communicate the grandeur of his gifting. Very few people could take an instrument or a musical art form that had existed for so long and managed to elevate and shape a unique sound that influences its style and musicianship to this day.
One would think that after accomplishing such a feat that there would be no room for humility. But this was the foundation of Melvin’s genius and what made “Professor” such an appropriate title. Musicians and composers borrowed from the sound he created and with a level of grace not seen in people of his stature, he taught them how. Melvin and I weren’t extremely close but because of our close musical circles I was blessed to be around and close to his work many times. As a choir music lover (expert, lol) I knew his entire catalog and there was something so fascinating about watching HIM play HIS songs. And the most honorable part of getting to watch him work was watching him teach. He didn’t keep it to himself. He was always sharing with his contemporaries and aspiring musicians alike.
What a great morning I’ve had and it is only 8:30AM. For the past hour I’ve been nosing around YouTube for new material to post to this blog, and I’ve found some music I really like. A lot of what I found is more Hammond B3 solos. I WON’T bother you with all that…yet.
Instead, here is a chestnut from the heydays of the mass choirs, 1991. The Mississippi Mass Choir not only was a masterful group of singers, but they also supplied Malaco Records a huge supply of material to sell. No wonder; they were founded in 1989 by Frank Williams, a member of The Jackson Southernaires and an executive in the gospel music division of Malaco Records! Brilliant idea Frank!
I can’t believe I haven’t posted this song yet. How did I overlook it.?? I immediately thought of “You Must Come In At The Door” when I listened to yesterday’s post, “Come On in The Room”.
This is another song that starts off with a Milton Biggham telling a story, but the fast moving walking bass line, the piano and the marvelous Hammond B3 punctuating the story are wonderful. This is one of the songs that got me hooked on gospel so many years ago. Enjoy!
You Must Come In At The DoorGeorgia Mass Choir6:20
There are soooo many great recordings out “there”; YouTube is a huge treasurer trove. I have an app on my MAC that lets me automatically download just the audio from any YouTube video…it has made maintaining this blog easy.
Here is a great song I found a little while ago. Starts off quietly, but by the end the soloist has really wound things up. It sounds like the song is over after about 6 minutes, but nooooo…it’s just getting started, and as it tails off at the end, I wonder how long the original recording went on!
This is a funky, urban gospel song that is really fun. It’s written by VaShawn Mitchell who many Joyful Voices of Inspiration singers know also wrote “Good God“. I really like the bridge when the the song becomes a bit more joyful and less hip-hop with the lyric, “For He can do anything but fail, my God can!”…it’s very Hezekiah Walker-ish. Time to get your groove on!
Formerly Voices of Binghampton, the revamped Kevin Davidson & the Voices were a contemporary gospel choir based in Memphis, Tennessee. They issued their first album under the moniker, Celebrate, in 1998. Language of the Millennium (the album this cut is from) followed in 2000, and their third album, 2001’s Soultown USA, continued to incorporate elements of funk and urban contemporary into their exuberant sound. The albums Full Circle and Overflow followed suit in 2003 and 2006, respectively.