june 2012

delta aires

A new one-hour documentary film by ROBERT CLEM, The Jefferson County Sound: Alabama's Black Gospel Quartets (One State Films, Stone Ridge, NY, 2012), is a tribute to and an affectionate preservation of black gospel a cappella quartet music as it developed and evolved in Jefferson County, Alabama, the birthplace and capital of black quartet a cappella gospel singing ensuing from a boom in the coal and steel industries led to a massive migration of African-American workers to Jefferson County. Clem’s film not only explores the transformative early history of Jefferson County’s towering black quartets (including the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Birmingham Sunlights, the Four Eagles, the Delta Aires [above] and others), but finds some of those very same singers and groups still spreading the good news more than 60 years later.

charles jenkins

By Bob Marovich
Chicago's Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church has been fertile ground for gospel music since Rev. Dr. Clay Evans founded the church more than sixty years ago. Pastor CHARLES JENKINS, the Rev. Dr. Evans’s successor, has a soul stirring hit single on his hands in the appropriately titled ‘Awesome,’ and this month he and the Fellowship choir await the release of their first album, The Best of Both Worlds. In this interview Pastor Jenkins discusses the heavy responsibility of stepping into the Rev. Dr. Evans’s shoes and advancing the church’s gospel music-rooted ministry, bringing ‘old schoolers’ and ‘new schoolers’ together to spread the good news.


leandris johnsonLE’ANDRIA JOHNSON, The Evolution Of Le’andria Johnson--Given her life story, Le’Andria Johnson has much to share with others, and Evolution is something of a series of mini-life lessons with an urban contemporary soundtrack. The musical backdrop changes slightly from selection to selection, but what does not change is Le’Andria’s vocal urgency.

javon inmanJAVON INMAN, Heart Of A Worshiper--Heart of a Worshiper stands on the quality of the singers and musicians, Inman’s strong but delicate tenor, lush arrangements, and the willingness of the choir to experiment.


nelsonJASON NELSON, Shifting The Atmosphere--Well produced and well constructed, Shifting the Atmosphere is the aural equivalent of a peaceful day of prayer, reflection, and affirmations with a praise break at intermission.


angela spiveyANGELA SPIVEY, He Keeps His Promise--He Keeps His Promise finds “The Princess of Gospel” in fine form, a wooden-church gospel shouter with the lung capacity of giants such as Pastor Shirley Caesar, Evelyn Turrentine-Agee, and Lemmie Battles. The songs on the CD are variously traditional and contemporary gospel, and almost uniformly about encouragement, hope, and deliverance.

cheneta jonesCHENETA JONES, Transformed--Cheneta Jones of St. Louis may be the lead background singer for Tye Tribbett, but on her new, much-anticipated Transformed, she demonstrates her ability to deliver songs all by her lonesome.


new converted voicesTHE NEW CONVERTED VOICES, A New Beginning--The New Converted Voices’ latest CD, A New Beginning, delivers the goods that quartet enthusiasts want to hear from their heroes: no-nonsense Christian lyrics, impassioned traditional singing, tight harmony, and one or two good ol’ drive-tempo songs with backbeats and extended vamps.

necie bNECIE B., Runaway Love--Love is in the title and love is in the air for Necie B. on her new CD. One might say, in fact, that the album is a collection of (mostly) love songs not sung to a human man but to the Lord.


memphis harmonizersTHE MEMPHIS HARMONIZERS, Keep Running On--Keep Running On prospers on the strength of quartet basics: Bible-based testimony, common sense pointers on living, and old-time religion wrapped in meat-and-potatoes masculinity that has more testosterone than most other popular and folk music today. Then there’s that funky blend of B3, bass and drums that somehow sounds tangier coming from Memphis than anywhere else in the world.

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