Bessie Griffin’s towering version of “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” is one of gospel music’s great recordings.
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This is the 250th episode of SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments! That’s nearly five years of great songs from Baylor University’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project! Today, I thought I’d go back to the beginning – the spirituals of the pre-Civil War South. And few songs in any genre invoke more power and pathos than “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” There are dozens, maybe hundreds of renditions of this ancient classic, but to my ear the greatest is by Bessie Griffin. Griffin was mentored by Mahalia Jackson, to whom she is often compared. But to me she is equaled only by the great Marion Williams. Griffin’s range and ability to convey a deep well of pain and passion will bring chills up and down your spine. This recording is from her wonderful LP with the Gospel Pearls, titled Gospel Soul – on it, she lends her dramatic voice to “I Shall Not Be Moved,” “Lord, Don’t Move the Mountain,” “Troubles of the World,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and others – but nothing touches me like this powerful version of “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” MUSIC: Bessie Griffin - “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” 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.