SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - Black Nativity
Gospel music rarely gets better than the combination of Marion Williams and Princess Stewart on Black Nativity’s “Joy to the World”
Prof. Alex Bradford was already a superstar in gospel music when he began working with various Broadway promoters to create Black Nativity – a Black gospel version of the Nativity story, with a book by the great Langston Hughes. Bradford astutely cast my favorite gospel singer, Marion Williams, and the under-rated Princess Stewart, as the leads. Stewart was often called the Grand Lady of Gospel for her larger-than-life presence and the few recordings she did for Vee-Jay in the 1960s are simply amazing. Stewart died way too young in 1967.
While Black Nativity didn’t initially set the world on fire when it premiered off Broadway in 1961, it has gone on to become one of the most beloved of all Christmas musicals and is still performed all over the world every year.
There are numerous highlights on the LP, including “Mary, What You Gonna Name That Pretty Little Baby?” and what is probably the most stirring rendition of “Joy to the World” you’ve ever heard.
MUSIC: “Joy to the World,” Black Nativity, Marion Williams and Princess Stewart LP, Side 1, Track 7 (Dec. 4, 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.