The Golden Hummingbirds’ “He’s Listening” is a strange and wonderful 45 written and sung by someone named “Willie Mays.”
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Welcome to Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments. I’m Robert Darden.
OK, stay with me here. Found in the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project is a battered 45 by the Golden Hummingbirds of Birmingham, Alabama, from 1964. “He’s Listening” is a strangely wonderful piece of vinyl, with distorted guitars, a bit testifying and a closing vamp that combines those odd guitars with doo-wop styled vocals.
The song is written and sung by a certain Willie Mays. Could it be baseball legend Willie Mays? Mays was from Birmingham. And we know he sang back up on the Trenier’s hit single, “Say Hey (the Willie Mays Song”) from 1954. Ummm, surely not, right?
One other odd thing – the Hummingbirds recorded a couple of rare 45s for the Hy-Tone gospel label, which is located in Paicoma, California, the small town just north of Los Angeles that’s the home of the late Andrae Crouch and where his sister Sandra still pastors their church, New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ.
Here’s a snippet of “He’s Listening” – you decide if that’s the REAL Willie Mays!
MUSIC: “He’s Listening” 45 by the Golden Hummingbirds of Birmingham, Alabama.
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.