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SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - The Harmonizing Four


Jimmy Jones, the legendary bass singer for the Harmonizing Four, delivers a speakers-rattling vocal on the old spiritual, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.”

To hear the Harmonizing Four is to hear much of the history of gospel music. Founded in 1927, the Four hailed from the Virginia tideland region – one of gospel’s greatest strongholds – and known for its tradition of lush vocal harmonies. The group was recording old school jubilee-styled gospel for Decca Records as early as 1943. The Harmonizing Four released a host of glorious a Capella songs, often featuring the bass singers, sang at President Franklin Roosevelt’s funeral, and continued to record into the 1980s.

While the group stuck close to jubilee versions of old spirituals, founder Joseph Williams also always included at least one spoken word track to accompany a gospel song on each album.

But hat separated the Four from other groups was its tradition of glorious bass singers, including Jimmy Jones and Ellis Johnson. One of their greatest performances is this stunning, speakers-rattling performance by basso Jones on the beloved spiritual, “(Sometimes I Feel Like a) Motherless Child.”

2213 Harmonizing Four - Motherless Child-.mp3

MUSIC: “Motherless Children” by the Harmonizing Four from 16 Golden Gospel Greats LP, Side 1, Track 4.

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.