Holy Thou Art God

  1. Holy Thou Art God Richard Smallwood and Vision 8:52

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Richard Smallwood’s mini masterpiece, Holy Thou Art God.  Just one of 15 great songs on his “Healing – Live in Detroit” album.  At his peak there was no one like Richard Smallwood and his gospel music legacy lives on today.

One of the things that makes Smallwood’s music so beautiful is the incredible dynamics his singers use.  Every word has meaning and ebbs and swells and flows as needed.  Remarkable vocals on this song; nine minutes with only a few lyrics but the song keeps you riveted throughout.

And last but not least, the incredible lead solo vocals were performed by none other than the amazing Vanessa Williams. She initially gained recognition as the first African-American recipient of the Miss America title when she was crowned Miss America 1984 in September 1983. However, a few weeks prior to the end of her reign, she learned that Penthouse magazine would be publishing unauthorized nude photographs of her in an upcoming issue. Williams thus resigned as Miss America on July 22, 1984 (under pressure from the Miss America Organization), and was replaced by first runner-up Miss New Jersey Suzette Charles.

Today Vanessa Williams is one of the most respected and multi-faceted performers in entertainment today. She has conquered the musical charts, Broadway, music videos, television and motion pictures. She has sold millions of albums worldwide and she has achieved critical acclaim as an actress on stage, in film and on television.

I Can’t Feel At Home

  1. I Can't Feel At Home The Loving Sisters & Their Sons 4:22

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Gladys McFadden & The Loving Sisters began recording in 1962 and continued to record until 1978. They embraced the new sounds of the emerging ’60 music like wah-wah guitar and funky tempos, early on. They are known for their gospel songs that sound like secular soul recordings. In this case they breathe some new life into the traditional song, “I Can’t Feel At Home”.

Gladys was the primary lead singer and wrote almost all of their material, often addressing social matters. She also produced many of their albums. The 1974 album, “The Loving Sisters and Their Sons”, from which this cut is from, is considered one of their finest recordings with songs with lots of wah-wah guitar and funky grooves at various tempos.  ‘I Can’t Feel At Home’ has both a southern gospel sound and quartet arrangement.

Try Jesus

  1. Try Jesus Dr. C.L. Johnson 2:28

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 I love these old, raw, acapella call and response gospel songs. Doesn’t get more basic or more spirit filled than this. For the congregation, the rule seem to be “pick a note…any note will do.”  You might notice that the song sounds and feels a bit reminiscent of “He’s a Battle Axe“.  If you did, you’re right…just wait until the second verse at 1:20.

That’s All I Want

  1. That's All I Want The Stan Lee Ensemble 3:13

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I guess this sub-genre of gospel could be called “gospel soul” and Stan Lee and Benny Cummings and others were the first to record these songs in the early ’70s. I believe James Cleveland discovered and promoted the Stand Lee Ensemble and probably had a lot to do with Savoy Records recording them since Cleveland himself  (and his choirs) recorded lots of material on Savoy.

99½ Won’t Do

 

  1. 99½ Won't Do Sister Lucille Pope and The Pearly Gates 3:02
  2. 99 & A Half Hezekiah Walker & The LFT Choir 4:55

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Ya gotta give 100%…99½ just won’t do.  Here are two takes on this song, a more down home female quartet version and a more hip-hop, heavily produced version from Hezekiah Walker and his Love Tabernacle Fellowship choir. Each is great in its own right.

Jesus On The Mainline (quartet style)

  1. Jesus On The Mainline Willie Neal Johnson & The New Gospel Keynotes 16:25

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So, Willie Neal Johnson and The Gospel Keynotes are one of the better know names when it comes to the gospel quartets.  Prior to the 1960’s when Jame’s Cleveland changed the face of gospel with large mass choirs and songs that contemporized gospel, gospel was dominated by solo artists, small women’s groups (like the Davis Sisters) and men’s groups, primarily quartets.

The “quartet sound” has never been my cup of tea, mostly because I find it remarkably unexciting and even more that that, just plain BORING.  It has a way of sort of going on and on and on with the band and the singers repeating simple phrases ad infinitum/ ad nauseum.

IF you think I’m being a bit harsh here, make your own determination.  Here is a quartet version of the great song “Jesus on the Mainline”; a 16 MINUTES worth.  Whadda you think??  Let me know…leave a comment.

On The Right Road

  1. On The Right Road Ruth Davis and The Davis Singers 4:06

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Ruth Davis and The Davis Singers; not the Davis Sisters, whom many of us are familiar with. For this album, Ruth organized a group of several singers, including the late Rev. Isaac Douglas. Here they sing “On The Right Road” which features the one and only Ruth Davis.

A Great Day Coming

  1. A Great Day Coming Bill Moss & the Celestials 3:39

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Bill Moss was born in 1931 in Selma, Alabama and sang in a choir led by his sister, the late, great, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark.

He moved to Detroit, Michigan and formed The Celestials with his wife Essie Moss. Bill Moss & the Celestials performed with acts such as The Staple Singers and Mighty Clouds of Joy at venues such as the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The Celestials were one of the first gospel groups to use electric instruments. He was inducted into the International Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004.

Bill Moss’ two sons are currently involved in Gospel music: Bill Moss Jr. and James (performs as J. Moss). His sister, Mattie Moss Clark, and nieces, The Clark Sisters, are famous gospel music singers as well as anyone who follows this blog will know.

[From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Moss_(musician) ]

 

I Smile – Bailey Stowers and David Taafua

  1. I Smile Bailey Stowers & David Taafua 3:55

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I always marvel at the HUGE number of incredibly talented musicians there are in the world that we would never ever know about were it not for the wonder of technology and sites like YouTube where people can share their gifts with the world.

Case in point.  These two.  Bailey Stowers and David Taafua, two young people from Melbourne Australia.

I stumbled across this by sheer chance last night.  Okay, I fell in love with Kirk Franklin’s song “I Smile” earlier this year, so yes, I’m probably predisposed to liking a cover of the song, but NO ONE can say that this performance is anything less than…FABULOUS…GREAT…I can’t really find the adjective that gives the piece justice. Not only talented, but the JOY they express while performing is wonderful. OH…I forgot…this isn’t the video so you can’t see facial expressions. Take a listen here and then ya gotta watch it on YouTube!!!

 

Highway

  1. Highway Trin-i-tee 5:7 4:44

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Trin-i-tee 5:7 was formed in 1998 by three talented young women, all elementary school friends, from New Orleans. They were marketed as the gospel alternative to R&B girl groups such as Destiny’s Child and TLC, hoping they could “cross over” to the secular urban R&B market much like Kirk Franklin had done.  Their first album, “Spiritual Love”, soared to the top of the gospel charts, broke into the top 20 R&B albums on the Billboard charts, and went Gold.

This is a kewl, modern day rework of Thomas A. Dorsey’s classic, “Walking Up The King’s Highway (It’s A Highway To Heaven)”. The arrangement and some of the vocals are pretty amazing (Lady Tramaine Hawkins helps out on some of the vocals).