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Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments - The Imperial Gospel Singers


The Imperial Gospel Singers’ “Fountain of Blood” will remind you of the powerful harmonies of their Philadelphia neighbors, the legendary Angelics. 

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SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments Featured Song for Episode 2108 | “Fountain of Blood,” by the Imperial Gospel Singers


Like country, rock’n’roll, jazz and even classical music – the history of gospel music is filled with amazing artists who should have been stars, who should have been giants in their field ... and for whatever reason, it just didn’t happen. In gospel, I propose we name Philadelphia’s Imperial Gospel Singers to that list. This quartet of female vocalists could sing with the best of them – including Philly’s own Angelic Gospel Singers.

The group was founded in 1959 and was led by singer/songwriter Anna Smallwood and the Imperials recorded first rate gospel for labels like Savoy and Gospel. In addition to Smallwood, singers like Connie Noble and Louis Smoke, often took the thrilling leads. Rosie Wallace was another Imperial, who went on to a fine career of her own.

I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite track, but the 45 “Fountain of Blood” is certainly a keeper. Recorded around 1962, that’s Smallwood’s urgent, impassioned vocals over the Imperials’ tight, imaginative harmonies on this slow burn gospel treasure. You can hear some of the best tunes by the Imperial Gospel Singers on YouTube and their music is slowly becoming more available – which, believe me, is a good thing.

MUSIC: “Fountain of Blood,” by the Imperial Gospel Singers, 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).