- Highway To Heaven First Church of Deliverance Choir 5:40
“It’s a Highway to Heaven (Walking Down the King’s Highway)” was written by Thomas A. Dorsey, “The Father of Black Gospel Music”, and Mary Gardner in 1954.
This recording not only has wonderful vocals, but features a classic Hammond B3 organ. The Hammond B3 was introduced in 1955 and among the early customers of the B3 were African-American churches, whose limited finances compelled them to accept what might be seen as a second-rate substitute for a “real” organ. Fortunately, creativity escaped the limitations of technology. The sounds of the B3 were unique, powerful, and captivating, and the instrument began to be appreciated on its own terms. Gospel music recordings of the 1950s and 1960s began to accentuate the Hammond, giving the music a special sound. By about 1970, the B3s (and similar Hammond models) were embraced by all sorts of popular musicians, including rock, R&B, and jazz groups.
Chicago’s historic First Church of Deliverance Choir certainly has something to sing about. Under its founding pastor, the late Rev. Clarence H Cobbs, the First Church of Deliverance was one of the earliest African American churches to broadcast its services on the radio, beginning in 1934. It was through the weekly radio broadcasts featuring the 200-voice choir that the church became widely known as a center for Gospel music. The First Church of Deliverance “big choir” sound has been emulated by choirs across the United States and abroad.
In 2006 The First Church of Deliverance Choir made a triumphant return to the recording scene after a 16-year hiatus with God Can – Live, a 10-track set showcasing the choir’s rich traditional sound plus a few contemporary offerings.