Sister Josephine James' slow and bluesy rendition of "God Can Make a Way" will give you shivers!
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Welcome to Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments. I’m Robert Darden. Last week, we played the Rev. Cleophus Robinson’s fine “God be With You.” But the better singer in the family was probably his sister Josephine. Cleophus and Josephine, who recorded under the name of Sister Josephine James, recorded numerous superb albums of gospel duets over the decades, including their biggest hit, “Pray for Me.”
But Sister Josephine also released several superb gospel LPs herself in her nearly 50 year career for several top-flight labels. Some critics compare her to Mahalia Jackson, but Josephine could – and would! – shout and growl WAY more often than Mahalia ... giving every song she recorded a thrilling, smokey, blues flavor. One of my favorites is “God Can Make a Way” for Peacock in 1962 ... you might recognize the title, as it was frequently used by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. – “God can make a way out of no way!”
Alas, her recordings are hard to come by today, but YouTube has a surprising number of videos, including a wonderful duet with her brother titled “Sweet Home,” recorded in 1997. A year later, both Sister Josephine and the Rev. Cleophus had passed, leaving behind two memorable musical legacies. MUSIC: “God Can Make a Way,” Sister Josephine James, 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.