World of Slick Music

World of Slick Music
– Gospel Special

Hi there folks!

Time again for another edition of the slickest (?!) blog on line. As the headline above says today it’s a Gospel special i got. So Gospel maybe  you think of a mass choir singing happy clappy often syncopated songs. Well that’s perhaps the average image of Gospel music and not saying it’s necessarily is wrong. However Gospel music can be and also is much more than a mass choir and in my opinion their music isn’t especially slick. Now what kind of Gospel music am i gonna write about today then? Two different “projects” from back in the 90’s. First one is a project from 1993 called Soul Mission, see picture below.

Relaterad bild

This thing started when two guys Darrell Brown and David Batteau managed to make a dream come true. They had both grown up in church with all that comes with it including music. They wanted to take the fun  of old school Soul music from the 60’s and then add the inspiration  and earthiness of the Gospel music. This whole thing started in a thin sheet-metal construction trailer out in the desert of Arizona. In the dust and heat out there, the songs were conceived and the demos completed. Next thing they called on the assistance of their friend Bob Glaub. His vast experience as a studio bassist on three decades (from John Lennon to Bruce Springsteen). With his help they put together their all star dream team Soul band. The number one choices for the guys was the legendary Memphis musicians Booker T Jones (Hammond B3) and Steve Cropper (guitar). They were both members of the group named Booker T & the MG:s. They played on albums with Soul icons such as Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. Kinda hard to believe that this skinny guitarist were writing songs that are considered beeing Soul classics today. He co wrote songs with Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd to name a few and he also was/is one of two guitarists in the Blues Brothers Band.

Bildresultat för booker t jones
Picture: Jazz wax
Left to right: Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn (R.I.P.), Booker T Jones himself, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson Jr (R.I.P.)

Steve and Booker T both accepted and joined the project, Darrel and David felt like their prayers were answered. Next guy to track down was R&B/Soul/Funk drummer James Gadson. He first got a reputation as a great Funk drummer  in the late 60’s as a member of Charles Wright & His Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. After that band was dissolved he became a prominet session drummer and worked with Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers. After that they needed a bassist and they wanted to get Ready Freddie Washington a guy who has played with dosens of artists. After him they got a second guitarist Randy Jacobs (Bonnie Raitt, Was Not Was). Then percussionist Bobby Hall (Diana Ross & The Surpremes, The Four Tops). Horns were provided by Joe Sublett (Sax), Darrell Leonard (Trumpet) and Jerry Donato (Sax). They were also joined by Michael McDonald on piano on one track. This was the band now they needed singers.

Bildresultat för tata vega andrae crouch
Photo: Pinterest

The first name they came to think about was Soul/Gospel singer Tata Vega whom worked a lot with Gospel giant Andrae Crouch, picture above. Second was the legendary Stax vocalist Mavis Staples whom is featured along with her sisters and father in the concert movie The Last Waltz directed by Martin Scorsese, picture below.

Bildresultat för mavis staples the last waltz
Picture: Something Else Review

Through friends and colleagues they were introduced to singers Victor Cook, Grady Harrell, Lynn Davis, Alfie Silas and Gavin Christopher. Finally they also got a few other singers to be like a choir and they are on the album simply called “The Church”. Not gonna mentioning their names but trust all professional singers. So after the background of how this project came to be it’s now time for the song. Since not all of them are to be found on Youtube you can’t pick exactly anyone you want. Although one of my favorites are and it’s a kinda bluesy old school Soul with a touch of Gospel. Here’s  Salvation Road featuring Lynn Davis on lead vocals.

Enjoy your listening!!

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That was part 1 now time for part 2 which is also the last one. This project took place a few years later than the Soul Mission one. The album was released in 1995 and project number is called Sisters of Glory.
A project featuring five female Gospel/R&B/Soul singers and they are Thelma Houston, Cece Peniston, Phoebe Snow (R.I.P.), Albertina Walker (R.I.P.) and Lois Walden. This prjoect was meant to be “one time only” project. The group was put together by Lois Walden, whom also came up with the name, for a event on April 25 in 1994 for a TV-Show called Gospel Music: From the church to the charts as part of it’s thirteen weeks to benefit charity. The event took place at the intimate Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. It was a group of artists gathered around a piano in front of an audience filled with entertainment industry notables.

Bildresultat för sisters of glory
Left to right: Thelma Houston, Cece Peniston, Phoebe Snow, Lois Walden and on the small pic Albertina Walker.

The show was both hosted and directed by Lois Walden and they performed some of the most important songs of the gospel tradition, shared behind-the-scenes stories and interacted with eachother and the audience in a fun-filled and high energy celebration of gospel music. That small room went electric as the audience joined in singing, clapping and testifying. The media reception was immediate and overwhelming. Then came a phone call from one of the producers of the 25th anniversary of the classic and legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969. He had heard about the evening and wanted the ladies to recreate this thing one Sunday morning August 14 1994. This was nothing planned but the ladies performed infront of over 200 000 people in upstate New York and infront of million tv-viewers. There were no costumes no elaborate sets no preparatory tour. There where only time for one-three hour rehearsal before the newly named group boarded the bus for Saugerties. Accompanied by only organ, bass and piano the Sisters of Glory entered the North Stage and sent forth a musical wake up call.

Bildresultat för sisters of glory woodstock 1994
Left to right performing at Woodstock 94
Cece Peniston, Thelma Houston, Lois Walden,
Phoebe Snow and Albertina Walker.

As they were performing people came from all over the place to hear them. The crowd were dancing, clapping, singing along, swaying, holding hands. The audience gave back as much as they were getting from the 5 singers on stage! Bet that was a moment to remember. In the album’s liner notes a woman named Jennifer Cohen along with Lois Walden writes “for those of us priviliged to on that stage, the true meaning of days of peace and love was captured in that early morning hour. Now after this huge success a guy living in the Vatikan State in Rome Italy had most likely seen and heard them on tv and got totally blown away! They guy was the Pope John Paul II who invited them to his Christmas concert on December 16 “Christmas at the Vatican II”. This led to the 5 ladies singing a record deal and in 1995 there only record was released, see picture below.

Bildresultat för sisters of glory woodstock 1994

It contains old classic songs from the mostly American church tradition although some of them i’ve heard choirs in Sweden singing. I did it as well when beeing member of a youth Gospel choir. There are differen arrangements to every song, some more funky some more traditional some with a twist! For example “Oh Happy Day” is with a like Carribean twist! You can find it on Youtube if you wanna know how it sounds. The song i’ve choosen is called “How i Got Over” and it’s a more funky version here, i guess you can call it “Gospel Funk”!

Enjoy your listening!!

Tags: #worldofslickmusic #sistersofglory #thelmahouston #cecepeniston #phoebesnow #loiswalden #albertinawalker #jennifercohen


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