SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - The Southern Harmonizers
The Southern Harmonizers were one of the many great groups signed by Bess Berman to Apollo Records.
Today, Apollo Records is best known among gospel music lovers as the original home of Mahalia Jackson – and the place where she recorded her greatest music. But Apollo had a lot going for it beyond Mahalia. Bess and Ike Berman took over the label after it was founded in New York City in 1944 -- and Bess had an incredible ear for talent
The label signed a wide variety of outstanding artists in several genres, including the 5 Royales, Dinah Washington, and Wynonie Harris. But Bess had her greatest successes in gospel – the Roberta Martin Singers, the Dixie Hummingbirds, Prof. Alex Bradford, James Cleveland and – of course – Mahalia.
In 1948 for Apollo, Mahalia recorded one of the best-selling gospel songs of all time, “Moving on Up a Little Higher,” which sold millions. After several more transcendent releases, Jackson left for Columbia Records in 1954. Apollo hung around until 1962 – and its legacy of great music is a tribute to Bess Berman, one of the few women pioneers to succeed in gospel’s all-male world. Another example of her ability to find music of the highest quality – here’s the otherwise unknown Southern Harmonizers and their 45, “Honey in the Rock”!
MUSIC: “Honey in the Rock,” 45, Southern Harmonizers
I’m Robert Darden … “Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments” is produced by KWBU, the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program at Baylor University Libraries and is funded by generous support from the Prichard Foundation.