Above, of course, is Judy Garland and Fred Astaire singing Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade, from the 1948 movie of the same name. Below, the Philadelphia Biblical University Institute of Jewish Studies’ class of 2000 sings the Passover song Dayenu.by
Apparently, both Albertina Walker and Malhalia Jackson were known as The Queen of Gospel at various times. She probably inherited the title. Jackson took the young Walker on the road and the two became friends.
Albertina’s gift in music ministry and unselfish commitment to humanity for over six decades has earned her many awards and honors. Among them, a 1995 Grammy Award for the Best Traditional Gospel Album (Songs of The Church); 10 Grammy Award nominations; 5 Gold Records; 3 Stellar Awards; several Gospel Music Workshop of America Excellence Awards; an induction into the 2001 Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. Albertina is featured in the book entitled Who’s Who In Black America, and has received several keys to various cities, she was honored at the Chicago Gospel Festival where a bench bearing her name was placed in downtown Chicago’s Grant Park. The City of Chicago paid tribute to Albertina by renaming 35th and Cottage Grove “Albertina Walker and The Caravans Drive”. Conferred upon Albertina, the honorary Doctor of Letters Degree by the Chicago Theological Seminary, an institution of the University of Chicago Illinois. President Bush honored Albertina for her contribution to gospel music May 31, 2002, the ceremony held at the White House declaring the month of June as Black Music Month. (Continue Reading…)
This is the start of Walkers’ obituary in The New York Times. She died in October, 2010:
Albertina Walker, a gospel singer with a lush contralto voice whose group, the Caravans, recorded a string of hits in the 1950s and 1960s and nourished the careers of such greats as the Rev. James Cleveland, Inez Andrews and Pastor Shirley Caesar, died on Friday in Chicago. She was 81. (Continue Reading…)
I had chosen the music for this post on the Staple Singers and was looking for background material without being aware of the sad news that Cleotha Staple, the oldest of the singing sisters, died on February 21 at age 78. Here is part of The New York Times’ obit:
The Staple Singers were formed in Chicago when the Mississippi-born singer and guitarist Roebuck Staples, better known as Pops, began teaching gospel songs to his children, Cleotha, Pervis, Yvonne, Mavis and Cynthia, to keep them entertained in the evenings. Mr. Staples and all his children except Cynthia began performing professionally and recording after singing together in church in 1948. (Continue Reading…)
“Pops” Staples died thirteen years ago. Here is the start of the family band’s profile at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame site, into which the family was inducted in 1999. They were presented by Lauryn Hill:
The Staple Singers have been called “God’s greatest hitmakers.” Steeped in the music of the church, this singing family from Mississippi crossed into the pop mainstream without compromising their gospel roots. Fronted by patriarch Roebuck “Pops” Staples, the Staple Singers have left an imprint of soulful voices, social activism, religious conviction and danceable “message music” across the decades since the release of “Uncloudy Day” in 1956. The clan’s musical signatures have been Pops Staples’ gospel-based songwriting and bluesy guitar, Mavis Staples’ rich, raspy vocals and the supple, ringing harmonies of Cleotha and Yvonne Staples. All three women are the daughters of Pops and Oceola Staples. Until 1969, son Pervis also belonged to the group, which has been configured as a quartet for more than half a century, with Pops and Mavis joined by Cleotha, Yvonne and/or Pervis. (Continue Reading…)
Finally, here is the clip of The Band and the Staple Singers performing The Weight in The Last Waltz. Pops and Mavis are featured. It’s a highlight of the movie, which is saying a lot.by
Didn’t It Rain
Here is the bio from Jackson’s website:
Born in New Orleans in 1911, Mahalia Jackson grew up in a shotgun home shared by 13 people. Raised by her Aunt Duke after her mother died in 1917, economic circumstances forced Jackson to quit school and work at home when she was in fourth grade. Her earliest influences were the sights and sounds of Uptown New Orleans: banana steamships on the Mississippi River, acorns roasting in Audubon Park, hot jazz bands, the beat-driven music of the Sanctified Church, and Bessie Smith’s bluesy voice wafting from her cousin Fred’s record player. But Jackson found her greatest inspiration at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, where she sang on Wednesday, Friday, and four times on Sunday. Even at age 12, her powerful voice could be heard all the way to the end of the block. “You going to be famous in this world and walk with kings and queens,” said her Aunt Bell, predicting an illustrious future for a voice that would change the face of American music, empower the Civil Rights movement, and bring Mahalia Jackson worldwide renown. Continue Reading…
It’s interesting that Didn’t It Rain features three jazz bit shots: Shelly Manne plays drums, Barney Kessel is on guitar and Red Mitchell is the bassist. It seems that the video is from a television program of some sort, so it is possible that they were in a studio band.
Joshua Fit the Battle of Jerichoby
The Blind Boys of Alabama formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939. The group toiled for almost 40 years almost exclusively on the black gospel circuit, playing in churches, auditoriums, and even stadiums across the country. Their recorded output, reaching back to 1948 with their hit “I Can See Everybody’s Mother But Mine” on the Veejay label, is widely recognized as being influential for many gospel, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll artists. The Blind Boys had their own chance to “cross over” to popular music in the 1950′s, along with their gospel friend and contemporary Sam Cooke, but stayed true to their calling. In the 1960′s, they joined the Civil Rights movement, performing at benefits for Dr. Martin Luther King.
Here are Amazing Grace (more or less combined with House of the Rising Sun), what is called a vintage clip (with guitar pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharp at the end) and People Get Ready. The group isn’t done yet. In fact, they now are touring with Dr. John.by
The distinctive Hi Records sound that the vocalist and producer Willie Mitchell developed made Al Green the most popular and influential soul singer of the early ’70s, influencing not only his contemporaries, but also veterans like Marvin Gaye. Green was at the peak of his popularity when he suddenly decided to join the ministry in the mid-’70s. At first, he continued to record secular material, but by the ’80s, he was concentrating solely on gospel. During the late ’80s and ’90s, he occasionally returned to R&B, but he remained primarily a religious performer for the rest of his career. Nevertheless, Green‘s classic early- ’70s recordings retained their power and influence throughout the decades, setting the standard for smooth soul.