Not to be confused with version of this song with the same title that was a christian adaptation of Gladys Knights “You’re The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me” popularized by both James Cleveland and Desmond Pringle, this is another song altogether. It simply says “Of all the best things that could ever happened for me, it’s Jesus…my Jesus!
Jesus Is The Best ThingDallas Fort Worth Mass Choir5:55
So here we have the same song from two choirs both brought to America’s attention by Rev. James Cleveland; The Charles Fold Singers and The Donald Vail Choraleers.
So, the question for today is, how far into the song do you have to go until you figure out the tune or song that THIS song was based on. You’ll know when you hear it…the riff/chord structure just makes you think…”I KNOW that…it’s from….uh…________!!!! (You fill in the blank.) So, two versions of the same song, each given their own unique treatment by the artist.
Something About God's GraceJames Cleveland Presents The Donald Vails Choraleers4:20
Something About God's GraceRev. James Cleveland & The Charles Fold Singers5:17
Absolutely classic James Cleveland. Everything about this song is soooo James Cleveland…his solo voice, the somewhat strident sound of the choir, the piano part, the format of the song. This is “The King of Gospel Music” at his very best.
Right Now Let The Savior Bless YouJames Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir5:02
In the 60’s James Cleveland made a deal with Savoy records to help them find new talent. Cleveland agreed to record 8-10 albums a year under the title “James Cleveland Presents…”. All Cleveland had to do was to find a choir he thought he had merit and perform on ONE TRACK on the album. These albums were usually made in one marathon 7-8 hour recording session. Many of the choirs, including Harold Freeman & New Friendship Church Choir, hailed from Chicago, the birthplace of traditional gospel. This cut dates back to 1976.
I'm So ThankfulHarold Freeman & New Friendship Church Choir2:34
Another gem from James Cleveland’s Southern California Community Choir, “I’m Saved” from their 1990 album “Having Church”. The intro to this song is a bit unique; most songs don’t have spoken intros, and the wonderful string of adverbs that Ms. Annette May Thomas lays down to describe just how “saved” she is, is just magnificent. We should all feel so strongly in that which we believe, regardless of what it may be. Somebody say “Amen”! (Oh and Happy 4th of July!)
“I’m glad to report…unapologetically, unashamedly, unequivocally, unquestionably, undeniably, I am saved! Absolutely, positively, gladly, willing, cheerfully, lovingly, and anxiously, I am saved!”
As many of you know, The Reverend James Cleveland (December 5, 1931 – February 9, 1991) was a gospel singer, arranger, composer and, most significantly, THE driving force behind the creation of the modern gospel sound, bringing the stylistic daring of hard gospel and jazz and pop music influences to arrangements for mass choirs. He is known as the King of Gospel music. He was the first gospel musician to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1984. The soloist on this song is Carolyn Brown.
We Shall Walk Through The Valley In PeaceJames Cleveland & The Salem Inspirational Choir4:25
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Born in Chicago, Illinois, Cleveland began singing as a boy soprano at Pilgrim Baptist Church where Thomas A. Dorsey was minister of music and Roberta Martin was pianist for the choir. He strained his vocal cords as a teenager while part of a local gospel group, leaving the distinctive gravelly voice that was his hallmark in his later years. The change in his voice led him to focus on his skills as a pianist and later as a composer and arranger. From the 1970s until 1990, Cleveland would bring together a number of artists to back him on appearances and records. He also continued to appear and record with some of the most notable gospel choirs of the time. For his pioneering accomplishments and contributions, he is regarded by many to be one of the greatest gospel singers that ever lived.
I’m back at my posting and I’m on a Charles Fold kick. This man was one of the very best of the best and made some wonderful music.
In the comments section on YouTube there is one comment that sums it all up perfectly: “Lawwwd have mercy!!!! Sing it Charles! Can’t you see him carrying his armor and marching in? Siiiiinnnngggg Charles, I said siiiinnnggg it!”
(On The) Battlefield For My LordJames Cleveland and The Charles Fold Singers8:28