So, as promised, I’m continuing on with the theme of secular songs that crossed over to gospel.
On the heels of Gladys Knights huge hit of ,”You’re The Best Thing (That Ever Happened to Me)” in 1974, James Cleveland and The Charles Fold Singers from Cincinnati Ohio changed up the song a bit and recorded “Jesus Is The Best Thing (That Ever Happened to Me)”. The song was not and instant hit, but in January of 1978 the album charted at #2 on Billboard’s Best Selling Gospel LP’s having been named the #1 gospel album in the prestigious annual “Talent in Action” section in Billboard’s December 25 1976 issue. The album and the song put both Cleveland and Fold firmly on the gospel map. I love this recording because it is so real. The church in Cincinnati where the song was recorded must have been quite small and intimate and the ad hoc harmonies make the whole song feel like it is a spiritual happening taking place at that particular moment in time.
- Jesus Is The Best Thing Rev. James Cleveland and The Charles Fold Singers 6:26
In 2006 Desmond Pringle recorded a version much in the style of Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable” where Pringle overdubs his vocal on top of Cleveland’s original, and then takes off on his own from there. As far as an exciting performance, I prefer Pringle’s version. (I remember the first time Norris heard this song as we drove around Puerto Rico with my iPod blaring in July of 2010. He LOVED the song and said that he wanted to perform it someday. THAT would be a wonderful thing!!!)
- Jesus Is The Best Thing Desmond Pringle with James Cleveland 6:24