What does it take to make a great gospel song. At the minimum:
Great song: “Stand By Me”.
Great Composer: Thomas A. Dorsey, “The Father of Gospel Music”.
Classic Lyrics: “When the storms of life are raging, stand by me…”
Great singer/soloist: R.H. Harris (Predecessor to Sam Cooke in The Soul Stirrers).
Great accompaniment: Just a wonderful Hammond B3 organ.
VOILA!! What more do you need? Instant winner. Enjoy.
As I was driving yesterday, Aretha Franklin’s version of “Drown In My Own Tears” came on, and I was amazed about how very, very closely the song sounded for all the world just like a gospel song. Same great female lead solo, fantastic backup vocals from the choir, chords that are pure gospel, or just one note off, and a killer vamp at the end. As I listened again this morning, I recalled Beverly Crawford’s version of “(You Must Be) Born Again”, and knew it was just the gospel twin of Aretha’s song. And then I thought of Cream’s song, “Sitting On Top Of The World” and one see’s exactly where Soul, R&B and Gospel intersect with Rock music, so I’m throwing that in too for good measure.
This is a wonderful, simple lesson on the influence of black American blues, gospel, and soul music on the world
He’s an updated version of the old song, “Glory Glory (Lay My Burdens Down) from The Miami Mass Choir…not to be confused with the Florida Mass Choir.
The choir was started by Rev. Milton Biggham, Songwriter, Producer, Singer, and Executive Director of Savoy Records. He is best known for starting The Mississippi Mass Choir, and the Georgia Mass Choir as well. He cleverly used the materials from these choirs to record and turn into albums resulting in big sales for his Savoy Records.
Dr. Margaret Pleasant Douroux is a gospel composer, educator and author.
A veteran recording artist, she conducts workshops throughout the United States and Europe and has written more than 100 songs, including “We’re Blessed,” “Rivers of Joy,” “Give Me A Clean Heart,” “If It Had Not Been For The Lord On My Side,” “Trees,” “I’m Glad,” “He Decided To Die,” and “What Shall I Render.”
I Feel AlrightNorman Hutchins with Dr. Margaret Douroux and the Heritage Mass Choir6:26
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Her songs have been recorded by the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Pastor Shirley Caesar, the Rev. James Cleveland’s Gospel Music Workshop of America Mass Choir, and the Rev. Clay Evans.
Her career includes five years as minister of music and adult choir director for Mount Moriah Baptist Church of Los Angeles and was minister of music and choir director for Greater New Bethel Baptist Church of Inglewood, Calif., for more than 30 years.
Douroux retired from the local church music ministry in 2015 after 64 years of service. She also worked 13 years with LAUSD as an elementary school teacher, guidance counselor, and school psychologist. Douroux earned her B.A. degree at CSU-Los Angeles, her M.S. degree and an advanced Master’s Degree at USC, and her Ph.D. at the University of Beverly Hills.
Douroux continues to be living legend in Los Angeles in her role as the founder and CEO of the Heritage Music Foundation, an organization focused on the advancement and preservation of gospel music.
The amazing Rev. James Moore. This man had the most amazing voice and he really was a soldier for the Lord, continuing to perform even after diabetes took his eye sight and put him in a wheel chair in the 90’s.
Moore’s last recording, entitled “Family and Friends, Live in Detroit”, from which this cut is taken, was recorded in the summer of 1999 in his hometown of Detroit, with some of his dearest industry friends and gospel notables, such as Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Rudolph Stanfield, and Darius Twyman. The album was released in early 2000, shortly before his death at the age of 44.
Our last post was from Tramaine Hawkins. Here’s a great song from the master himself, the late, great, Walter Hawkins. This was recorded at one of his annual “Love Alive” seminars and features soloists Shirley Miller and Yvette Flunder.
Full & CompleteWalter Hawkins & The Love Center Choir13:27
James Moore won stardom singing “You’ve Been Truly Wondrously Blessed”. He was inspired and coached by Dr. Mattie Moss Clark and the Clark sisters and the Rev. James Cleveland. He began his career with the G.M.W.A in 1974, and went on to record many albums. Despite a diabetic affliction that took his sight in 1994 he still traveled preaching and singing where ever he went. He performed with such legendary gospel artist such as Lashun Pace, Rev. Cleveland, Frank Williams, Dr. Bobby Jones, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and countless others. In 1998 inducted into Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He was nickname by radio announcers as the King of Gospel and was considered by many to be one of the greatest voices of our time.
You've Been Truly Wondrously BlessedRev. James Moore3:51
A beautiful song from one of the great contemporary female gospel singers, Ms. Tramaine Hawkins. Tramaine was married to the late, great, Walter Hawkins.
She scored several hits as a solo artist in the 1980s while signed to Light Records and released now-classic albums, such as her 1979 self-titled debut, Tramaine; and its 1983 follow-up Determined. Songs such as “Changed,” “Goin Up Yonder”, “He’s That Kind Of Friend”, Jesus Christ Is The Way” and “Highway” quickly became staples and fan favorites.
Tramaine was briefly a member of the 1970s soul female singing group Honey Cone. Honey Cone later recorded the R&B hit “Want Ads” that made its way back into the gospel genre by being sampled on Mary Mary’s 2005 hit “Heaven“.
There were three powerful women in Detroit’s gospel music history known throughout the 1960s and 1970s as The Big Three: Mattie Moss Clark, Elma Hendrix, and Lucylle Lemon.
Elma Lois Hendrix Parham founded the Community Youth Ensemble, established her own music publishing company, and owned Elma and Carl’s House of Music on Owen Street in Detroit, a record and music store that became a meeting place for gospel fans and artists. Among those whose music she published was Mattie Moss Clark.
Elma Hendrix Parham & Community Youth Ensemble MedleyDetroit Mass Choir9:19
Just when I think I’ve run out of songs to post, I find another of my old favorites. This song was written by John P Kee, yet I don’t think he or one of his choirs recorded it. So, we have this great version by Jeffrey LaValley’s New Jerusalem Baptist Church Choir from Flint Michigan. If you enjoy this recording, you might get a kick out of this rawer live performance when the choir performed “Show Me The Way” on Bobby Jones Gospel on BET (Black Entertainment Television). Otis Floyd is singing lead and Jeffrey LaValley is directing the choir…an awesome performance!
Show Me The WayNew Jerusalem Baptist Church Choir8:09