SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - Ziontones
The Ziontones were gospel’s answer to the Temptations with the funky, irresistible “You’ve Been Good to Me.”
Don Robey’s feisty gospel label out of Houston – Peacock – provided industry giant Savoy some of its stiffest competition in the 1960s and ‘70s. In 1963, Robey created a second label, Songbird, to feature a more pop-oriented gospel. Songbird, which boasted acts like Inez Andrews and the Sensational Williams Brothers, was part of the sale of Peacock to industry giant ABC Records in 1974. Eventually ABC sold to MCA, which kept the name Songbird, but turned it into a contemporary Christian label in the early ‘80s. That version of Songbird’s biggest hit was the Willie Nelson LP, Family Bible
So, with that kind of label churn, it’s no wonder that some really fine Songbird artists never really achieved the fame they deserved. Take for instance the Ziontones and their LP, Hope Ahead, released in 1974 and produced by the brilliant Ira Tucker of the Dixie Hummingbirds. This is the era – remember – of the Temptations and Undisputed Truth ... and the Ziontones certain look the part in their sharp cherry-red matching suits with those wonderfully wide lapels. Even better, this is superior gospel funk – these guys know how to make a joyful noise!
MUSIC: “Lord, You’ve Been Good to Me,” Ziontones LP, Hope Ahead, Side 1, Track 1 (Nov. 13, 2022)
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.