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SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - The Belles of Trenton, NJ

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The Belles of Trenton, NJ, deliver the gospel goods on “Hear the Word (Dry Bones)” from the Choice label.

The Belles of Trenton, NJ, deliver the gospel goods on “Hear the Word (Dry Bones)” from the Choice label.

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The feisty Choice record label operated in Newark, NJ, from 1960 to 1970. It was founded by Ozzie Cadena, a veteran of the mammoth Savoy gospel label just a few blocks away. Cadena’s brash and brightly colored label – with the motto “The Sound of America” – had several gospel stars on the roster, including Prof. Alex Bradford, Raymond Raspberry and the Drinkard Singers, all of whom did excellent work. But mostly the label consisted of artists that Savoy either didn’t want or had released in the past, primarily from New Jersey. One such group were the Belles of Trenton. Led by powerhouse vocalist Maxine Hayes and featuring songs by Delores Eure, the Belles released two first-rate 45s for Choice, then disappeared from the gospel scene. One of those 45s features “Hear the Word (Dry Bones,)” from 1962. In it, composer Eure combines the old spiritual “Dry Bones” with a loping, mid-century blues-gospel feel – all built around Haye’s speakers-rattling voice. It’s quite a ride – and you can hear the entire song on the KWBU. ORG website ... scroll on down to SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments.

MUSIC: “Hear the Word (Dry Bones),” 45, The Belles of Trenton, NJ

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.

Robert F. Darden is the author of two dozen books, most recently: Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-In to Resurrection City (Penn State University Press, 2016); Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume I: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement(Penn State University Press, 2014); Jesus Laughed: The Redemptive Power of Humor(Abingdon Press, 2008), Reluctant Prophets and Clueless Disciples: Understanding the Bible by Telling Its Stories(Abingdon Press, 2006); and People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music(Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2004).