Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments

Sundays 8:35 am; Mondays at 4:48am. 6:48am, 8:48am and 5:48pm.
  • Hosted by Robert Darden

Author and Baylor University professor Robert Darden tells stories -- and plays recordings -- from the Baylor University Libraries' Black Gospel Music Restoration Project in an on-going weekly series of two-minute segments. Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments explores the distinctly African-American sound of the "Golden Age of Gospel" (1945-1975). The series celebrates this fertile musical period in American history, presenting cultural snapshots that reveal the depth of a people, their community, and the influence they have had on the rest of American music.

On "Standing Here Wondering Which Way to Go," Marion Williams is accompanied by the best studio musicians Atlantic Records has to offer - and the resulting 45 is one of the classics of gospel music. 


The popular Skyways, led by W.C. Johnson, toured heavily in the 1960s and '70s as one of the vanguard artists of the new contemporarary gospel sound. 


With mighty voiced Liz Dargan as the lead vocalist, the Gospelettes released a number of memorable singles in the early '70s, including a fiery version of "Lord, You've Been Good to Me."

The Mighty Superiors, known from only a couple of obscure 45s on the Song Bird label, prove that in gospel music an artist doesn't have to be famous to be good. 


With the Gospel Keynotes, Willie Neal Johnson released a string of memorable, soulful LPs for Nashboro and Malaco beginning in the late '70s. 

With the Pentecostal Mass Choir of Chicago, Charles Watkins was a gospel music innovator, bringing new textures, rhythms and instrumentations to gospel music. 


This nifty self-produced live LP features several great gospel songs on the A side and the powerful, expressive sermon The Ball Game of Life on the B side. 

Chicago's Kelly Brothers bounced around gospel music for a while, cutting great songs,  but never catching a break before moving to King Records in 1963 to record the R&B hit "It Won't Be This Way Always" as the Kingpins  - the year before thr King label went out of business. 

Legendary gospel producer,  Rev. Lawrence C Roberts, produced most of the Savoy/ Gospel label's hits during the 1950s and '60s - usually featuring his own backup singers, the multi-talented Lawrence Roberts Singers. 

Bill Moss, son of the legendary Mattie Moss Clark, had a long and successful career in gospel music recording with his wife Essie as Bill Moss and the Celestials. Bill and Essie were also the parents of two current gospel stars, J Moss and Bill Moss, Jr., who have inherited their parent's singing and song-writing gifts. 

Gospel music was known for its great bass singers. Alas, we may never know the name of the bass singer for the Bonnett Harmonizers of Washington D.C. but his bouncy, melodic singing on their lone LP, The Storm is Passing Over, is worth cherishing.


The real star of this hard gospel tune is the funky and fabulous bass-line, which more than matches the lead vocalists of the obscure Spiritual Wonders of Detroit. It's just possible that the bassist is legendary Motown Records bass player and composer James Jamerson, who played on virtually all of Motown's hits. 


The multi-talented Elder Nick Hightower founded the House of God Saints in Christ Churches denomination, was the father of the fabulous Hightower Brothers gospel group, and recorded the excellent It's a Long, Long Way LP with vocalist Sister Massey. 


Some of the best recordings in the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project are those by absolutely unknown artists. As far as we know, this 45 is the only copy of the Messiah Gospel Singers performing “Lord, I Need You.” And yet this ragged, emotional performance strikes a chord that only real, raw gospel music can reach.


During World War II, Leonard De Paur created the De Paur Infantry Chorus, which would bring extraordinary music into the lives of soldiers in both the European and Pacific theaters. After the war, the chorus stayed together and recorded some remarkable albums of spirituals and sacred classical music. This is their rendition of "Deep River." 


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