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Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments - “Every Year Carries a Number”


Guitar great Benny Turner got his start with the Kindly Shepherds on this wonderful gospel tune, “Every Year Carries a Number.”

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Hear the full SHOUT! segment here. 

Listen to this week's featured song here:

“Every Year Carries a Number,” the Kindly Shepherds, 45

The Kindly Shepherds were one of dozens – maybe hundreds! – of groups to come of the West Side of Chicago in the 1950s and ‘60s. They recorded a half-dozen 45s, mostly for the fine Nashboro label in the late ‘50s and ‘60s. Their rendition of “On the Battlefield” is probably their best-known number, but they never really broke through the gospel charts, despite top notch singing and songwriting.
My particular favorite track of theirs is “Every Year Carries a Number.” The unknown lead vocalist testifies and exhorts over a close-harmony background for a minute before the sound suddenly bounces into a full-tilt gospel rave up. It’s polished, funky and fun – clearly the Kindly Shepherds knew what they were doing. Do listen to the guitar line – it’s a genuine treat.
The story of the Kindly Shepherds would have ended there except for the fact that one of the quartet’s founding members was guitarist Benny Turner – the brother of legendary blues guitarist Freddy King... the pride of Gilmer, Texas! Turner would eventually leave the Shepherds and follow his brother into the blues world, where he recorded a number of LPs, mostly recently Going Back Home, released in 2018. As I record this in late 2020, Benny Turner, now in his 80s, is going strong as band leader for soul singer Marva Wright!
MUSIC: “Every Year Carries a Number,” the Kindly Shepherds, 45
I’m Robert Darden … “Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments” is produced by KWBU, the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor University Libraries and is funded by generous support from the Prichard Foundation. 

Robert F. Darden is the author of two dozen books, most recently: Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-In to Resurrection City (Penn State University Press, 2016); Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume I: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement(Penn State University Press, 2014); Jesus Laughed: The Redemptive Power of Humor(Abingdon Press, 2008), Reluctant Prophets and Clueless Disciples: Understanding the Bible by Telling Its Stories(Abingdon Press, 2006); and People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music(Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2004).