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Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments - Rev. Pearly Brown

Blind street-corner singer the Rev. Pearlie Brown’s haunting rendition of the old spiritual “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning” is a powerful glimpse into our musical past.

For much of his adult life, the Rev. Pearlie Brown stood at the same busy intersection in downtown Macon, Georgia, and sang the old spirituals, worksongs and early gospel hymns that his grandmother taught him. His grandmother had been born into slavery and lived to be 100 ... and the songs Brown sang were often much older still.

Brown, who had been blind since birth, was recorded in 1961, at the height of the folk music boom, and the results are both haunting and startling -- just Brown and his guitar, singing songs like “Another Child of God Gone Home,” “How About You” and this mesmerizing version of the ancient spiritual, “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning.” Brown died in 1986 at the age of 71.

MUSIC: (2412) Rev. Pearly Brown, It’s a Mean Old World to Live In LP, “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning,” Side 2, Track 4 (March 24, 2024)

2412 Rev Pearly Brown - Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning.mp3

I’m Robert Darden … “Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments” is produced by KWBU and the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program at Baylor University Libraries.

Robert F. Darden is the author of two dozen books, most recently: Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-In to Resurrection City (Penn State University Press, 2016); Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume I: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement(Penn State University Press, 2014); Jesus Laughed: The Redemptive Power of Humor(Abingdon Press, 2008), Reluctant Prophets and Clueless Disciples: Understanding the Bible by Telling Its Stories(Abingdon Press, 2006); and People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music(Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2004).