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SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - Joe May


They called Brother Joe May “The Thunderbolt from the Midwest” with good reason – the man could flat-out sing!

Last week we talked about the legendary Willie Mae Ford Smith. This week, it is her primary acolyte, Joe May. May got his start in the 1940s and had a number of gospel hits with songs Smith taught him, including “Search Me. Lord,” “Old Ship of Zion,” “He’ll Understand” and others.

He possessed a powerful tenor voice and at a time when male gospel singers were leaving gospel for R&B and soul music, May stayed home. At one legendary concert, he stood toe-to-toe singing with Mahalia Jackson and Mother Smith – and lived to tell the tale... which is why they called him “The Thunderbolt of the Midwest.”

And while he was known for the Pentecostal fire and power in his voice, Brother Joe could sing just about anything. Take his hit, “Hush! Somebody’s Calling My Name” – it’s an utterly beguiling bit of up- tempo country gospel blues – a song that makes you wish it would last all night long.

Like all of the songs on SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments, you can hear the entire track on our website – KWBU.org ... just scroll down to the SHOUT! Link.

2227 Bro Joe May - Hush Somebody Calling My Name 44100 1.mp3

MUSIC: “Hush! Somebody’s Calling My Name” by Brother Joe May, 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.