For more than 40 years, the Gospel Blenders have been one of their hometown of Philadelphia’s favorite gospel ensemble.
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Welcome to Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments. I’m Robert Darden. Philadelphia doesn’t get as much attention as Chicago or Detroit, but the City of Brotherly Love has been home to a host of gospel’s best over the years, including the Angelics and the Dixie Hummingbirds. Since 1970s, the city’s preeminent group has been the Gospel Blenders, led by Rodney Harris. The Blenders are a powerhouse of an ensemble, as their performances on YouTube amply illustrate. For whatever reason, though, they never made much of an impact nationally. They’ve released a handful of LPs and 45s through the years on a variety of small gospel labels, all full of great songs and impassioned singing by the various Blenders. One of my favorites is this battered 45 on the obscure ARZEE label out of Philly – clearly a side-project of promoter Rex Zario. While both sides are great, I’m particularly enjoying “Hand Clap for Jesus” from about 1979. It’s a clever blend of contemporary musicianship and old-school gospel harmonies, including a rumbling bass singer who clearly loves and emulates of the great bass singers of the glory days of doo-wop and gospel! MUSIC: “Hand Clap for Jesus,” the Gospel Blenders, 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.