Saturday, April 30, 2011

Add the Voice!

Yesterday we heard Steve Cropper and considered his Volt-album »With A Little Help From My Friends« from June 1969. Right at the same time, in the same month, another LP was released, Volt LP # VOS-6007, and Steve Cropper had his hand in this, too, this time as arranger and producer ... and as session musician of course, a fact I was about to omit because it's so evident in his case.

The album is simply called »Mavis Staples«. It simply shows the singer's face on the cover. It simply contains her singing. And what a voice it is! A deep, contralto marvel of a voice.

Mavis Staples was, as is probably well-known to everybody, a member of the Staple Singers, a gospel-folk-family-formation from Chicago, and this was her first solo effort. 1969 was her year: First, several duets were released which Mavis had recorded with Eddie Floyd and William Bell. These songs were released in spring 1969 as singles and little later on the LP »Boy Meets Girl«. Then, there was her first solo LP.

BILLBOARD, August 16, 1969 (detail)
During the second half of '69, Mavis soon became famous as a solo artist: In August, she performed at the »Soul Show«-concert at the side of Mahalia Jackson (see the photo; towards the left you can see Mavis's guitar-pickin' father »Pops« Roebuck). In November, she shared the stage of Harlem's Apollo Theatre with Miriam Makeba whom she admired greatly. A single was released in August '69 containing two songs of her new album, but it went nowhere. Apart from these songs, the album contains a number of cover versions (»Son Of A Preacher Man«, »A House Is Not A Home«, »You Send Me«), and among these also two tunes by Otis Redding: »Security« and »Good To Me«. You can listen to them below.

As said above, Steve Cropper produced Mavis's album. He left it to Mavis to chose the songs (»Most of those songs on that album are songs that I loved, from hearing them on the radio. ... I chose Son Of A Preacher Man because I was in love with a real son of a preacher man. Guess who it was? Cecil Franklin, Aretha Franklin's brother!«). But it was Cropper who suggested that she recorded some of Redding's tunes, and so Mavis opted for »Security« and »Good To Me«. About the recording of »Good To Me«, Mavis was to say later:
»I was kind of shaky, because back then, the family was still singing Gospel songs. I didn't know how the public was going to accept the fact that I was singing these secular songs. Doing that was a no-no. I didn't feel it in my heart that it was a no-no, so that's why I went on and did it, but Steve Cropper had to hold my hand on a lot of those songs, especially on Good To Me. I said to him "Ohh, this song could really be taken like you're having sex or something". Steve said "No, Mavis, think about it like the guy is just good to you. He comes home, he helps you at home and all that". We had conversations about a lot of that stuff.«
To my mind, the two Redding songs belong to the best pieces on the LP. Mainly, because the raucous and smoky, yet at the same time smooth and heartwarming voice of Mavis comes wonderfully to the fore here. You can hear that in the faster song, »Security«, but it is especially obvious in the slower »Good To Me«. And thus the very beginning of »Good To Me« not only fits the lover she addresses in the song, but could be said by everyone listening to Mavis singing: »I don't know what you got, baby, but sho' is good to me« ...

Mavis Staples: »Security« / »Good To Me« from the Volt LP # 6007 (1969):

* * *
The Gibson Interview: Mavis Staples Talks About Staple Singers Legacy (Russell Hall, January 14, 2009). Oh well, on the Rolling Stone list of »The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time« Mavis Staples has reached rank 56 ... and I certainly agree with her being among the 100 best singers of all time, although the list in itself seems ridiculous to me, to put it mildly. After all, we find there the likes of Bob Dylan and John Lennon among the Top Ten, lifelong torturers of their poor-timbred vocal chords ... which indicates that the list cannot be based on the respective singers' vocal talent, really. To conclude, here is a nice picture, taken from JET of October 9, 1969, p. 36:

Friday, April 29, 2011


R&B attracted a wider audience and influence and, ironically, it was young white kids in the 1940s and 1950s who, hearing R&B records, determined that they too would become musicians. Guitarist Steve Cropper once noted that, when he was growing up in the American South during the 1950s and he went to see visiting bands, the white members of the audience were required to watch the show from the gallery because segregration was still a fact of life. In later years he recognized that he could only get close to where the real action was by being a musician on the bandstand: there was no segregation among musicians themselves. That enthusiasm triggered the likes of Cropper and many others to become musicians in the first place (Hugh Gregory: The Real Rhythm and Blues, London 1998, p. 7).
»It was basically black music but some whites like Cropper, Stewart and Dunn helped perpetuate the music,« reflects Booker. »They were outcasts for that in a certain way. I think they were either ostracized or admired. (...) Cropper is an innovator, Cropper was the first of his kind,« continues Booker. »I had not heard a rhythm guitar player play what Steve Cropper played. It's quite a phenomenon to be the first. There was nobody like Steve in the South that I knew of - black or white« (Vron Ware, Les Back: Out of Whiteness: Color, Politics, and Culture, Chicago 2001, p. 246 f.)
When I came to Memphis and finally had my own radio, I used to listen to WDIA and at midnight they would play gospel music. That really turned me around. I mean I grew up in the church and heard a lot of a cappella music and stuff but I had never really heard black gospel and it just blew me away (Steve Cropper, quoted in Rob Bowman: Soulsville U.S.A. The Story of Stax Records, New York 1997, p. 21).

There are few persons around who haven't heard his music, yet few of them do know him: Steve Cropper. They probably didn't recognize him when he appeared with bushy beard and long hair in Blues Brothers. Steve (from Dora, Missouri) was session musician at Stax Records in Memphis and member of several instru- mental outfits: The Mar-Keys, Booker T & The MGs, The Bar-Kays. It has, hyperbolically, been said that Steve and his guitar are heard on 99% of all songs recorded at Stax during the 1960s, and it is but a small exaggeration.
The first hit which goes with his name was »Last Night«, in the summer of 1961, an instrumental of The Mar-Keys that still is known to almost everybody in our days. A short while after, in 1962, came the unforgettable »Green Onions« with Booker T & The MGs. (There is a nice recording of that song with Steve Cropper and Donald »Duck« Dunn from 2008, with superb sound!)

As a member of Booker T & The MGs (see the photo on the left) he already appeared on this blog. In the following years, during the 60s, Steve played on recordings of William Bell, Rufus Thomas, Albert King, Mable John, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd (»Knock On Wood«), Wilson Pickett (»In The Midnight Hour«), Otis Redding and Carla Thomas ... well, that list names more or less every hit singer whose name stands for the »Memphis Sound« of Stax ...

Steve was closely involved in the career of Otis Redding. He not only played at most of the latter's sessions, but also produced a number of Otis's songs (»Love Man«, »The Happy Song«). Together with Otis he was on the bandstand at the Monterey Pop Festival (June 17, 1967), and he played during the recording of Otis's and Carla's LP »King & Queen«. Eventually, he co-wrote with Otis's the mega-hit »Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay« and received a Grammy Award for that in March 1969. After the turn of the 70s he moved away from Stax when he founded his own label »Trans-Maximus (TMI)« in Memphis (the distribution deal was made, little later, with mighty Columbia). And this label was, for some years at least, a success story (cf. BILLBOARD magazine's Memphis Special, June 03, 1972).

Volt LP # 6006 (1969)
In fact, Steve Cropper during his time at Stax published only one album under his own very name. He entitled it aptly, for a seasoned session musician, »With A Little Help From My Friends«, taking on the Beatles-tune that is also present, in an instrumental version, on the album. The LP, on Stax's sub-label Volt (VOS-6006), hit the market in June 1969. It contains, little surprisingly, only instrumentals, among them some compositions of Cropper, but mainly cover versions of known songs (»In The Midnight Hour«, »Funky Broadway« etc.). Steve Cropper was involved in the production of all these songs when they were recorded by their respective singers for the first time.

The general opinion concerning Steve Cropper's art of guitar playing is unanimous, in that everybody considers him, with good reason, a genius of sorts. Yet he is generally not seen as a guitar virtuoso. On the contrary, he is famous for his reluctant, sparingly intrusive, almost spartanic way of guitar playing: Quite obviously he was trying, successfully, to reach maximum effect with few but immediately striking licks or subtle but crucial variations in rhythm. This approach made him the perfect session musician: His play never dominates, does not distract from the singer and never ever buries the vocal lead. This »spartanic« approach nevertheless succeeds in providing just the right dose of musical grounding for almost every song, making it, by adding seemingly little, truly rich. You can hear that on most Stax recordings of the epoch. Steve Cropper himself was (and is, I guess) fully conscious of his approach and described it in his words as follows:
»A lot of guitar players play more like piano players. They play the whole picture all the way. Then they'd throw in a riff here and there. Lowman [Pauling] mainly just noodled rhythm and then, when there was a hole, man he'd just come out loud and just give you this big slingshot. I think that really influenced me. I think that's probably what developed my style in doing sessions: listening for holes in the singer so the licks I play are as important to the melody as the melody is to the licks I play, where one flows into the other rather than me sitting there trying to play guitar and stepping all over the singer« (quoted in Bowman, Soulsville U.S.A., p. 22).

Steve's »spartanic« approach also succeeded when he played with instrumental outfits, not the least because Booker T.'s hammond organ was, in character, often near to a singing voice, with Steve's guitar providing the necessary counter-points. What is more, Booker T.'s songs were in many cases rather »spartan« in themselves, and this played just in the hand of Steve's guitar-picking fingers. Unfortunately, it does not always work out so fine on Steve's 1969 LP. The reason for this is that here his guitar takes the melody lead, in lack of a singing voice. And in this case Steve's play proves to be ... well, too spartanic for my taste. Of course, all songs sound very professional, played by truly gifted musicians, but they are lacking ... how I'm gonna say this? ... the fire. This strikes me the more, the more dominant the singing voice is in the original song that we find covered here, e.g. in »Funky Broadway«. In other songs, faster ones and those more based on the orchestration, you are likely to notice it less, e.g. in »I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water«. Whatever. Maybe I'm wrong, or unjust. In any case, the album contains some pretty good songs. Listen here:

Steve Cropper: »Funky Broadway« / »I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water« from the Volt LP # 6006 (1969):

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Soulful Easter!

Today with a superb, rare album from summer 1974 ... The Sisters And Their Sons ... that is, The Loving Sisters from Arkansas together with their offspring:

ABC-Dunhill / Peacock LP # PLP-59204 (1974)

The Loving Sisters are Gladys McFadden, Loraine (sic) Leeks, Josephine Dumas and Ann James (all called »Williams« originally), accompanied on this LP by their respective sons George Williams, Larry James and Leonard Givens (the spelling of the names according to the back cover; there are different spellings around in other sources!). Gladys McFadden was the driving power behind the Loving Sisters: She not only produced this album, but also sings lead and wrote all the songs. You can find her on Facebook.

**Update May 2012: Read more about the members, the family and the early history of the Loving Sisters here. **

The first song which you can hear in the following is inspired by Psalm 34:4 (»I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears«). It is a very beautiful tune, and the lead-voice of Gladys McFadden blends nicely with the accompa- nying voices. This does create a certain call-and-response-effect, even though the song is no call-and-response-song in the proper sense ...: »I Sought The Lord«. This song was in its time also released as single (ABC-Peacock # 20005):

The Loving Sisters (feat. Gladys McFadden): »I Sought The Lord« from the ABC-Peacock LP 59204 (1974):

Who knows the Loving Sisters, nowadays? Yet they already had a long history, back in 1974: Founded in the 1950s by Gladys Givens McFadden, the group first played locally in Arkansas. In 1962 they were given a recording contract by Dan Robey, president of Peacock. During the Civil-Rights-struggle the Loving Sisters were active in and around Little Rock, stood on stage together with Martin Luther King Jr. and toured with C.L. Franklin (Aretha's father). There is a (unfortunately rather low-quality) video of one of their shows on Youtube.

In the 1970s, the Loving Sisters became known for their »soul-gospel«, the like of which you can hear on this album. Gladys McFadden said:
»I wrote almost everything that we ever sang ... A lot of what I wrote would fit into today's music. It had a rock flavour, but the words were gospel. We wrote according to our environment, but ABC didn't really know what to do with a gospel artist. ... People are still trying to find our music. (quoted in Bil Carpenter, Uncloudy Days, p. 258)«
Without doubt their 1974 album is as good as anything that was released in the fields of gospel and soul during the 1970s! And this brings us to the highlight of the LP: »I Can't Feel At Home« - funky, soulful, bluesy ...! In contrast to the song you could hear before Gladys McFadden is in this tune accompanied only by male voices. But this was just the right decision for this truly hypnotic groove song:

Gladys McFadden & The Loving Sisters's Sons: »I Can't Feel At Home« from the ABC-Peacock LP 59204:

* * *
BILLBOARD, July 6, 1974, p. 49
* * *
Late-night Postscript:
Arkansasonline published on May 13, 2010, a long and detailed article about the Loving Sisters and the achievement of Gladys McFadden. For our purposes, the following passages are relevant:
Signed by Peacock Records in the early 1960s, the women recorded 10 albums and garnered a Grammy nomination over the years. They performed across the nation. They marched with Martin Luther King Jr. “We would always sing. We would march on the front lines,” McFadden recalls. “We were young and courageous, fearless and all those things.” The Loving Sisters sizzled on stage, singing about the Lord like sanctified Supremes. “I think to my taste, the Loving Sisters were the last great group of the golden age” of gospel music, says Anthony Heilbut, author of The Gospel Sound.
McFadden wrote much of their music and took charge during concerts. “She was so scrappy. Such a nice little fighter on the floor,” Heilbut recalls. “She would sing, she would preach, she would croon. She’d go up and down the aisles. She’s very graceful.” The records are hard to come by these days, although copies pop up on eBay from time to time. McFadden says she’s lost all but one of her 10 albums; a friend borrowed the LPs and then lost them, she explained.
Carpenter says McFadden and the Loving Sisters are some of the pioneers of gospel music who deserve to be remembered and honored. “They’ve gone through a whole lot in their career but haven’t received the recognition they deserved,” he said. “They laid the foundation for today’s gospel stars.”

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ray van Beethoven


Towards the end of January, 1965, an album was released which in the future would not belong to the more famous recordings made by Ray Charles: Ray Charles Live In Concert, his first live-album for ABC (LP # 500). The concert was recorded on the evening of September 20, 1964, in the Shrine Civic Auditorium, Los Angeles (see also the postscript!). It was the opening concert of Ray's autumn tour.

As so often, hearing Ray Charles play in front of a live audience creates a very different feel if compared with his studio recordings. He had picked many of his »old« tunes for this concert, but also included some of his then newly released songs (»Baby Don’t You Cry«, »Makin’ Whoopee«). Right after the intro of the show Ray hits into a 6-minute-version of one his most famous songs, »I('ve) Got A Woman« (the song title appears on the back cover of the LP as »I Gotta Woman«). As is known, he had recorded this song almost ten years before, in mid-November 1954, in an Atlanta radio station converted recording studio. The version of this song which Ray presents in the concert is somewhat peculiar: there is a prelude, closely inspired by Beethoven's Pour Élise, followed by a short and intensely emotional hymn - well, I call it hymn for lack of a better term. And it is only after this opening that Ray switches to the first notes of the song as we know it. Nobody ever again has played this tune as perfect. The Genius at work. Much ink has been spilled discussing whether »I Got A Woman« should be considered the »foundation song« of R&B viz. modern Soul ... but this must not concern us here. Ray's 1964-recording of the song is remarkable in many respects, quite beyond the prelude: there is a lot of jazzy improvisation going on in the second half of the song, with Ray and his big band variously taking up melody lines from other known tunes. On tenor sax we hear nobody less than David »Fathead« Newman. Listen to it here, in mono:

Ray Charles: »I Gotta Woman« from the ABC-Paramount-LP # 500 (1965):

* * *
Ray's autumn tour of 1964 was overshadowed by not a few scandals. First, Ray did not come to grips with his drug addiction. During the tour he was more than once questioned or detained by the police for being found in the possession of drugs (marijuana and heroin), for e.g. in Boston in November. Second, after the tragic events of the »Freedom Summer« the general atmosphere in the southern states was rather explosive and race tensions were high. Thus in October, in Montgomery, Al., the white public was barred from one of Ray's concerts, including those whites who had valid tickets for the show. The local police even entered the tour bus of Ray's band and questioned the passengers. They had orders to only let blacks enter the concert hall. However, a (white) Jewish musician, the guitarist Donald Peake, could pass as well after some discussion ... What times these were! Here is the notice from JET-magazine, Oct. 15, 1964, p. 61:

* * *
POSTSCRIPT April 30, 2011:
Additional information about Ray's autumn tour in 1964 and his show in the Shrine Auditorium can be found here: raycharlesvideomuseum.blogspot. On this page, this concert ad is published:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rockin' Souls

mid-week gospel

UPDATED March 11, 2013  (for further details, see postscript)

* * *
»For the pious, there is magic in the moments of these melodies. Here is spiritual singing at its soul-stirring free-est. Beneath the trouble and toil, there is joy ... There is exaltation ... This is the devout Della. ...
For music lovers there is excitement of improvisation, phrasing, perfor- mance.
Historically, gospel-singing and the gospel and spiritual songs have a beginning and an end in the popular music of today. Before the "blues" and New Orleans and "jazz," there were the work songs and the spirituals of the South.«
That's what we find on the back cover of the Jubilee LP # JGS-1083, released in autumn 1958. It is an album of gospel, but quite obviously the above-quoted is meant to stress the impact of gospel on all kinds of secular music: Jazz and blues are explicitly named. So gospel is »for the pious« and »for music lovers« in general as well. Of course, this is fine with me, and it makes for a good starting point of re-telling the history of The Meditation Singers. The Jubilee LP referred to is called Amen! ... Della Reese presents her Meditation Singers with Ernestine Rundless«.

The history of the Meditation Singers begins at some point in the late '40s or early '50s. There are several contradictory accounts of how this group came to be formed, and it is difficult to get a clear picture. In any case, they hailed from Detroit, and all the original members were from there. We often read that Della Reese (born Del[l]oreese Patricia Early in 1931 and taking on her artist name after having married a certain Bon Taliaferro, splitting her Christian name ...) founded the Meditation Singers in 1950 while studying psychology at Wayne State University.

From EBONY, March 1960, p. 48.
At least this is the version favored by Della Reese. On the other hand, she said in an article in the SEPIA-Magazine, in the June 1962 issue, that the group was actually brought into being by her sister Marie (Waters) (see Jessie Carney Smith [ed.]: Notable Black American Women, Book II, Detroit 1996, p. 546). Which would leave the claim to who created the Medi- tation Singers in the family. However, others say - and their claim has much evidence to it - that the Singers were formed in April 1950 at the New Liberty Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit by the organist Emory Radford and the local pastor E. Alan [often: Allan] Rundless, former member of the Soul Stirrers. (Emory Radford also plays organ on the Jubilee LP # 1083.) The pastor's wife, E[a]rnestine, was in it from the beginning and from the 1950s was the driving force behind the Singers; she also sang commonly lead (soprano). The name of the group, »The Meditation Singers«, was taken from the group »Voices of Meditation Choir« already existing at the New Liberty Baptist Church, and the group had a weekly Sunday radio broadcast called »The Moments of Meditation«. The Rundless couple considered the Meditation Singers more or less as »their« group, and this is justified in that Della soon left the group in order to make a solo career while Ernestine Rundless held the group together and led them through the '60 into the '70s.

Della Reese was originally part of the gospel circuit in the Midwest, performed in Detroit churches (among these the New Liberty Church) and toured with Mahalia Jackson (1944/5-1949). As early as 1953 she appeared for the first time in a »secular« setting, first in Detroit and then in other places as well. In 1954 she got a contract from Jubilee Records before moving to RCA in 1959. From then onwards, she made a pop career.
She recorded much MOR-pop and jazzy standards in the following years, but more often than not was part of the Easy-Listening scene, honking out Cha-Cha-Cha songs and other stuff à la mode which did but little justice to her beautiful voice. She even recorded for RCA, in 1961, a LP entitled »The Classic Della Reese«, singing melodies »in a classical mode« adapted from the works of Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Chopin etc.: »The gal with the very special delivery swings out with top pop favorites based on tunes from the classicists (!)« (BILLBOARD, January 6, 1962). Her first great # 1 hit from 1959, »Don't You Know«, had already been based on a tune from Puccini's »La Bohème«, namely »Musetta's Waltz« ...

In the year 1958, when the Jubilee LP »Amen!« was released, Della Reese was not any longer a member of the Meditation Singers. She had quit the group several years ago, was for some time part of other gospel outfits and eventually went solo in the pop field. This turned out a pretty successful move; she soon had hits on the charts, and Jubilee Records sent her in May 1958 on a »record-breaking tour of England« what made her »the favorite on two continents«! In summer 1959 she appeared on national TV and had an engagement at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas. In the second half of the '50s she shared the stage with the Meditation Singers only on a few occasions, and her only known recording with the group produced the 1958 LP »Amen!«. In 1962, the group accompanied Della Reese during her concerts in the Copacabana and in Las Vegas.

The Jubilee-session is the only known recording of religious music of Della Reese and the Meditation Singers in the time after 1953 - at least the only recording releseased at the time, because we have a demo tape from January 1954, made for Art Rupe of Specialty, which has Earnestine Rundless, Marie Waters, Carrie Williams and Della Reese singing (this tape was first issued in 1992 on CD). However, at a recording session in Detroit on April 25, 1954, put together on the initiative of Rupe, Della was not present. This fits the conventional reconstruction of events, viz. that Della had left the group in late '53 or early '54, after which the (adopted) daughter of E[a]rne- stine, Laura Lee Rundless (formerly Laura Newton), took her place. However, Della also afterwards joined the Meditation Singers once and again and performed with the group at the New Liberty Baptist Church. And in about the mid-fifties the Singers were still a mixed group with male members, featuring the tenor Herbert Carson and bariton singer James Cleveland. However, when the Meditation Singers and Della Reese went into a Detroit recording studio in summer 1958 no male singers were present.

On the Jubilee album »Amen!« you can hear Della Reese, E[a]rnestine Rundless, Laura Lee Rundless, Marie Waters (Della's sister) and DeLillian Mitchell (also Delillian Price, as indicated on the LP). They all were, with the exception of Laura Lee and DeLillian Mitchell (who may not have been a member from the beginning but came in later), original members of the Meditation Singers. On the organ was Emory Radford, on the piano Kirk Stuart.

Jubilee LP # 1083 (1958)
The sub-title of the Jubilee LP »... Della Reese presents her (!) Meditation Singers with Ernestine Rundless« (actually the part »with Ernestine Rundless« is found only on the back cover) does not inspire much sympathy with Della. Of course, you can argue, as some have done, that Della Reese used her popularity to bring attention to »her« old group and, as it were, have them participate in her fame. And also Jubilee Records might have had an interest in selling this LP as a »Della Reese recording« rather than an album by a widely unknown Detroit gospel group. Yet you may also argue that Della with this LP effectively put the Singers into her own bag, although she was but a marginal and often-absent member of the group in comparison with E[a]rnestine Rundless. I am not sure, really, but to me it smacks of arrogance on Della's part ... and she could easily get away with it: Once you're famous you're always right. And I wonder what the Singers thought of Della posing piously in front of a colorful church window when she had actually made her name with MOR-pop? In any case, the media of the epoch uncritically divulged Della's perspective: A Billboard writer mentioned the »good cover shot of the artist«, as if Della was the only artist, and in another review of the LP the Meditation Singers are presented as »her original gospel group«.

From BILLBOARD, Oktober 27, 1958, p. 26.
From BILLBOARD, November 17, 1958, p. 42

The Jubilee LP has a tolerably good sound quality which is praised on the back cover with the strange neologism »Superlaphonic Hi-Fi«. In some ads that Jubilee had published in January 1959 we read of »StereoSonic LP's« which were, according to the company, »the Finest Stereo Albums Made«.

The songs on this LP are mainly traditional spirituals, arranged by Mortimer »Morty« S. Palitz. One song, »Hard To Get Along«, was written by and credited to Laura Lee Rundless. The first tune on Side 2, »Rock A My Soul« (sic!), is an old Negro-spritiual which is very famous to the present day and in general known as »Rock My Soul In The Bosom Of Abraham«. As we get to hear it on the LP it really is a gospel boogie. The group is accompanied by a speedy organ, and the song is noteworthy in that it features E[a]rnestine Rundless as the second lead singer.

Della Reese, E[a]rnestine Rundless & The Meditation Singers: »Rock A My Soul« from the Jubilee LP »Amen!« 

To tell the truth, Della Reese with her (presumably) patronizing attitude towards the Meditation Singers doesn't score much with me, but I have to admit that she sounds great on the entire recording. Actually she did a much better job here than on the secular recordings she produced during those years. You can hear this on virtually every song, and I just chose two in the following for you to judge. The first song, »I Know The Lord Has Laid His Hand On Me« (in fact, this song is commonly entitled »I Know The Lord Has Laid His Hands On Me« and that is also how you can hear it on the LP!), is in parts, especially at the beginning, a good example for close harmony singing, before the vocal line is taken over by Della Reese alone.

Della's voice is dominant in the second song, »Up Above My Head I Hear Music In The Air«, at least in the first half where she sings practically solo. In the second (and speedier) half she is joined by the Meditation Singers who take over the response part. Lindsay Planer wrote about these two songs as you can hear them on the Jubilee LP:
»I Know the Lord Has Laid His Hand on Me combines the give and take of the call and response with Reese's authoritative command to create a powerful, if not poignant impression on the audience. ... Sister Rosetta Tharpe's Up Above My Head I Hear Music in the Air is unquestionably among the most exuberant sides on Amen! as Reese's vivaciousness is infectious.«
»Up Above My Head« is indelibly linked to the name of Sister Rosetta Tharpe who had recorded this song in November 1947 together with Marie Knight. Anthony Heilbut called their recording a »gospel smash hit« of the 1940s (The Gospel Sound, p. 270). Since Tharpe and Knight had formed a duo in 1946, the song was their first release on 78 rpm: »Rosetta and Marie had another big commercial hit with Up Above My Head, a familar church song that became their signature duet and reached number six on the "race" chart on Christmas« (Gayle F. Wald: Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Boston 2007, p. 86).

Della Reese & The Mediation Singers: »I Know The Lord Has Laid His Hands On Me« /
»Up Above My Head I Hear Music In The Air« from the Jubilee LP »Amen!« (1958):

* * *

Della Reese made a pop career and remained for the greater part of the '60s one of the most-booked and best-selling singers of Middle-Of-The-Road-Pop. She paid a price for this, however. Being exposed to fame, she soon fell victim to the never-relenting tabloid press. What this resulted in can best be illustrated by an article in the JET-Magazine which was not known for subtle headlines and unobtrusive comments. It appeared in the issue of October 1, 1964, and dealt with the question of whether small-breasted women were generally more intelligent ... whereas the ones with the big boobies were, well, you name it. As an example for the bosomy type we then find Della Reese mentioned (and pictured!) in the illustrious company of Etta James and Eartha Kitt, with the comment added: »tops as entertainers, but not in the brain department?« This is how Della Reese ended up in the mainstream media. It was the curse of fame.

POSTSCRIPT March 11, 2013
Recently I came across Opal Louis Nations's two-part article about the early careers of Della Reese and The Meditation Singers, published in Big City Blues, February-March 2002, pp. 29-31 & June-July 2002, pp. 21-23. There are several interesting details in this very well-researched pieces which I incorporated in the text above. You can access both articles at the author's website (PDF files):

     *Opal Louis Nations: »"The Angel from Detroit". The Story of Della Reese & The Meditation Singers of Detroit. Part One (1931-1969) The Show Bar Years«, in: Big City Blues, February-March 2002, pp. 29-31.
     *Opal Louis Nations: »"The Angel from Detroit". The Story of Della Reese & The Meditation Singers of Detroit. Part Two (1931-1969) The Rise to Fame and Fortune«, in: Big City Blues, June-July 2002, pp. 21-23.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Drip Drop

Today is a wonderful day, sunny and all. The blossoming trees festively celebrate their springtime vitality in front of blue sky's horizon.
But as it is, I've got much work to do. The trees and the sky are for me but a faint reminder of the outside world. I wish it would rain ...

Gladys Knight & The Pips: »I Wish It Would Rain« from the Soul LP # 711 (1968):

Oooops, it works ...!

Irma Thomas: »It's Raining« from the Minit LP # 0004 (1963):

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Reality Sucks: Press Item of the Day

In JET from September 7, 1961, we find a little notice that somehow very well illustrates the state of The States in the early 1960s. Seen from today's perspective, but probably in its own day as well, the news item appears completely bizarre ... it reports why the black musicians of the AFM in Cincinnati had to face charges of ... racial discrimination, of all things!

JET-magazine, Sept. 7, 1961, p. 62

Friday, April 08, 2011

A Song for the Ages

»... one of the most emotionally devastating recordings in the history of soul music«
(Wayne Jancik in Robert Pruter [ed.]: The Blackwell Guide to Soul Recordings, Oxford 1993, p. 86)

»... an example of pop-soul at its most effectively bombastic«
(Richie Unterberger: Music USA: The Rough Guide, London 1999, p. 30)

»... rightly regarded as a high point in the history of classic soul ballads«
(Larry Grogan, Funky16Corners)

»... probably the greatest R&B ballad ever done«
(Corb Donohue in R. Serge Denisoff: Solid Gold: the popular record industry, New Brunswick 1995, p. 130).

»The track has to be heard to be believed because it simply defies description«
(Bil Carpenter: Uncloudy Days. The Gospel Music Encyclopedia, San Francisco 2005, p. 131)

»I was reminded again of how many great songs there are out there that I have simply forgotten about over the years«

»Did you ever caught yourself breaking down to pieces without a reason? Without absolutely NO reason?!«

Warner Bros. LP # 1674 (1967)
After these introductory quotations, I guess everyone has already understood that I am going to talk about Lorraine Ellison's ballad of the century, »Stay With Me«. It is one of these songs which only chance, in the hands of a merciful music God, can bringt about. A rich legend surrounds this mythical song, and at least the gist of it will probably correspond to what really happened: In spring 1966, a full orchestra of 48 musicians was waiting for Frank Sinatra, to record with him the ballad »Stay With Me«. But Sinatra canceled the date in the last moment when in a nearby studio there were Lorraine Ellison, completely unknown at the time, and her producer Jerry Ragovoy. Somebody came in and told them that in a studio next door there was a huge orchestra waiting for Frank Sinatra who, however, would not appear anymore. Well, Ragovoy immediately recognized what lucky moment that was, so he dragged Lorraine into that studio and presented her to the orchestra. Then he made up a new arrangement for the piece, fitted to Lorraine's voice and style, while the musicians were little enthused and waiting. Eventually one went about recording the song with Lorraine, take one. After Lorraine had finished, the musicians put down their instruments, rose to their feet and gave her a standing ovation. Everybody who had witnessed Lorraine's performance knew that take one was a seminal recording, a song for the ages. That's what the legend says. However, true or not, the recording of that song was in fact the start of Lorraine Ellison's career as a singer.
POSTSCRIPT January 1, 2012: Over on the Boogie Woogie Flu blogspot, a comprehensive piece by Andy Schwartz covering the production work of Jerry Ragovoy has been published. It contains a very detailed account of how he and Lorraine Ellison recorded »Stay With Me« and differs in details from what I wrote above. In particular, there seems to have been two days between Sinatra's cancelling and Ellison's actual recording of the song. This is as legends are. However, the said article does also have interesting material and thoughts about the reception of Ellison's first LP, please check it out!

The unique recording was released as a single few weeks after the legendary studio session. Legend further has it that the single was sold out in New York within a few hours. People reportedly paid $50 for a copy which they were lucky enough to find. Nonetheless, the song peaked at # 11 r&b and only reached # 64 on the pop charts, which in retrospect seems incredible. In January 1967 Lorraine Ellison's new LP »Heart and Soul«, over-titled »Introducing Miss Lorraine Ellison«, was released. It is this LP-version that you can hear now:

Lorraine Ellison: »Stay With Me« from the Warner LP # 1674:

* * *
Phew! After this emotional ride on the witch-broom it is a good idea to chill down a bit by diverting our attention to some musical facts about this song. Without doubt, with »Stay With Me« Lorraine Ellison had recorded »her signature song-the intense, symphonic-drenched ballad "Stay With Me« (Ed Hogan in All Music Guide to Soul, p. 223).

But, it can be asked, what kind of song is this power-ballad? Well, this is far from settled. Is it Soul? Deep Soul? Jazz-Soul? Pop-Soul? Even Gospel-Soul, as has been said? Or simply a unique piece of music history that defies any categorization? And finally: Is it important to know that?

Many see in this song the dominant influence of gospel at work, especially as Lorraine Ellison had been singing gospel for years. Bil Carpenter wrote in this respect: »Although Lorraine Ellison is scarcely remembered by any but the most fanatical of 1960s soul aficionados for her earth-quaking ballad "Stay with Me", her approach to that classic and whatever else she sang was pure gospel. (...) Possessing a piercing soprano with raw emotional power, her soul-drenched ballad "Stay with Me" finally gave her the hit she always coveted.« (Bil Carpenter: Uncloudy Days. The Gospel Music Encyclopedia, San Francisco 2005, p. 131.) Also Larry Grogan (Funky16Corners) argues more or less similarly:
»Ellison’s recording, like so many of Ragavoy’s creations is a sublime mixture of gospel inflected soul with touches of R&B grit. The “build” of the song is much like that of ‘Cry Baby’, with a slow, drawn out verse building into a dynamic, nearly overpowering chorus. The lyrics are a heartbreaking plea to repair a shattered love and Ellison’s delivery, especially during the chorus where she soars into the stratosphere (vocally and emotionally) is brilliant.«
And back in 1969, Robert Christgau in the New York Times (January 18, 1969) already referred to the tradition of gospel:
»Lorraine Ellison is a gospel-based singer reminiscent of Aretha Franklin who on her first album was cast by Ragovoy - succumbing to the advice of others - in a Nancy Wilson soul-going-pop mold, which is where Aretha herself was stuck for five years before moving to Atlantic Records and producer Jerry Wexler. She did cut loose for one song, however, a hard-wailing ballad called "Stay With Me" which became an instant underground classic in Harlem.«
Others spoke of »Uptown Soul« or in other words the urban soul of the northern cities, which often is caracterized by elaborate arrangements and large orchestral backing: »Ragovoy took the uptown soul sound to a delirious extreme with Lorraine Ellison’s volcanic Stay With Me (1966)« (Barney Hoskyns).

Still others qualified Lorraine Ellison's as »Deep Soul«: »Wenn man wissen möchte, was Deep Soul ist, dann führt an diesem Album kein Weg vorbei« we read on rockzirkus, and this probably takes up David Nathan's expression who called Lorraine a »deep soul diva« (in The Soulful Divas, Billboard Books 1999, p. 76), Pete Nickols, to conclude, mentioned Lorraine's song as »her name-making monumental slab of deep soul«.

And we must recall that the question of which song we have here is not purely an academic question. Categorizing a song was (and still is to a certain point) highly relevant for the record industry: The »broader« you could market a song or a singer, the better for the respective record company. Thus it is interesting to see that contemporary reviews of Lorraine's song stress its »blues-soul« character, for example in JET (February 2, 1967, p. 63): »Once heading a teen-age gospel group, Lorraine Ellison is heartily soulful on her bluesy ballad Warner Bros. album titled, appropriately, Heart and Soul.« Yet of all what could be said about »Stay With Me« it certainly isn't very »bluesy« in the common sense of the word. However, the label »Blues« had stuck with some while others resorted to »Rhythm & Blues« and underlined that Lorraine Ellison had crossover success, from r&b into the pop market:
»Undoubtedly, the biggest music trend in 1967 as in 1966 will be the growth of r&b music. (...) Most of the major labels, all now deeply involved in the r&b field, aim product so as to sell in both the r&b and pop markets. (...) A good example is Lou Rawls, who now scores in both fields. Capitol Records has a "Carryin' On!" album coming out soon it should prove highly profitable for dealers in both markets. Warner Bros. has Lorraine Ellison with "Introducing Miss Lorraine Ellison - Heart and Soul" in this same bag.« (BILLBOARD, January 28, 1967, p. 34)
click to enlarge
The sleeve notes on the back cover of the Warner LP # 1674 underline another aspect, as the word »soul« is more than once applied to Lorraine's songs. But towards the end we find, little surprisingly, that one tried to put Lorraine Ellison in several drawers at the same time: »Blues chaser. Ballad swinger. At the brink of stardom one of the most original and compelling jazz singers.« Blues, Ballad, Swing & Jazz. Nothing less than all that. And I think they are right, with a little more jazz than blues in it.

If you listen to Lorraine Ellison's entire album »Heart and Soul« I think there is little choice but calling her a »Jazz-Soul«-singer. One even could speak of »Big Band-Soul«, were it not for the fact that nobody uses such a term. After all, there are many jazzy standards on this LP, among them hits made famous by Dinah Washington (»What A Difference A Day Makes«), and Dinah suffered from the same problem: She was given many labels throughout her career, but wouldn't like to hear of any. And Lorraine Ellison? You can hear two examples of her Jazz-Soul at the end of this post. Indeed, her entire LP contains only one tune that stands out, »If I Had A Hammer«, and you can hear that Lorraine isn't at home there. Yet she was never recognized as a jazz-singer, which is why her name is missing from standard reference works, e.g. Scott Yanow's The Jazz Singers. The Ultimate Guide, Milwaukee-New York 2008).

So I tend to opt for Jazz-Soul, after all. I don't think we have any gospel here, and it doesn't sound much like urban soul or blues. Whether we have »Deep Soul« is a matter of definition, but to me »Deep Soul« has some southern flavour to it and requires rather simple, intense arrangements. It's not enough for a song to be emotionally dense in order to be labelled »Deep Soul«, and to me this term neither fits the particularly pitched, actually quite opera-like voice of Lorraine nor the majestic orchestration. If at all, for the compactness of the sound, some parallels to Phil Spector's »Wall of Sound« come to mind, as has also been suggested. And in this context the term »Deep Soul« might be suited:
»I wonder how many songs in your life may touch you like this? By taking you without a warning from the neck and mangle your flesh without mercy? That's the very f***in' meaning, explanation whatever you want anyway of the term "Deep Soul"! A full emotional moment that sadly comes VERY FEW times in your life. The absolute peak! ... And if the myth's proved right, this brilliance was because of Frankie who at the last minute canceled the session. The orchestra was there, warmed and so was Lorraine Ellison. An unknown black beauty. What caught on tape it's Drama in its pure Wagner meets Spector vein!« (read more here)
This is very much the last word on the song! Otherwise, we may also choose not to care. The song obviously transcends any established musical category, and that's one of its important qualities. Dusty Springflied said in an interview that three songs changed her life, and one of these was Lorraine Ellison's »Stay With Me« (quoted in Annie J. Randall: »Dusty's Hair« = Ch. 1 in Dusty! Queen of the Postmods, Oxford 2009, p. 22, reprinted in: Laurie Stras [ed.]: She's So Fine: Reflections on Whiteness, Feminity, Adolescence and Class in 1960s Music, Farnham-Burlington 2010, p. 123).

If you are interested in some more information and personal impressions concerning Lorraine's masterpiece »Stay With Me« you find them here:
Here you find information about David Weiss who together with Jerry Ragovoy co-wrote the song; Weiss's best-known songs are »Lullaby of Birdland« (1952), »The Lion Sleeps Tonight« (1961) and Elvis's »Can’t Help Falling in Love« (1961):
* * *
To conclude you can listen to two more songs from Lorraine Ellison's album »Heart and Soul«. The first song is Sam Cooke's melodramatic »farewell song« which was released posthumously, »A Change Is Gonna Come«. The second song, »Cry Me A River«, I love best in Dinah Washington's version. However, with both songs Lorraine Ellison offers an outstanding performance:

Lorraine Ellison:
»A Change Is Gonna Come« / »Cry Me A River« from the Warner LP »Heart And Soul« (1967):

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Nothing Yet

Mid-week Gospel,
with a new video link April 4, 2013 (scroll down)!

Five respectable Ladies, Detroit (?), 1966:

From left: M. Waters, E. Rundless, P. Lyles, V. Beasley, V. Rogers


    The Meditation Singers: »The Lord Is« from the Checker LP # 10019 (1967):


Well ... you haven't heard nothing yet:

    The Meditation Singers: »Don't You Want To Go?« from the Checker LP # 10019 (1967):

Additional information:

The Meditation Singers: Earnestine Rundless (lead vocal), Donna Hammons (lead, not on photo above), Verlene Rogers und Marie Waters (soprano), Patricia Lyles (alto), Victoria Beasley (pianist & arranger). (All names as spelled on the back cover! ... Donna Hammons is actually Donna Hammonds).
According to the back cover the songs were recorded in November 1966 in the Ter Mar Studios, Chicago. However, the preserved songfiles (see here and Cedric J. Hayes'/Robert Laughtons The Gospel Discography 1943-1970, West Vancouver: Eyeball Productions 2007, p. 236) say that both songs were recorded already on August 03, 1966, with the participation of the following musicians: Bryce Roberson (guitar), Louis Satterfield (bass), Morris Jennings Jr. (drums).

* * *
 As of July 2012, a live version of »Don't You Want To Go« was uploaded to Youtube ... you sure wouldn't want to miss it!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


Some days ago I tried to analyze the deeper levels of the kiddie song »On The Good Ship Lollipop«. We find it on the album »In The Midnight Hour« (Revue LP # 7205) by The Mirettes. As is known, the »Mirettes« of 1968 actually were the former »Ikettes«, three female singers who were, understandably, so pissed off by Ike Turner's regime (and his envy of their success!) that they left his revue and went their own way, billing themselves as the »Mirettes«. Their 1968 LP was released towards the beginning of the year, and in the Billboard issue from February 24, 1968, we find a nice full-page ad showing the Mirettes (see also below).
From left to right: Robbie Montgomery, Jessie Smith and Venetta Fields:

Because their LP contains, apart from »On The Good Ship Lollipop«, several other songs worth listening to, I didn't want to hold them back. And because we're dealing with a trio I thought three songs might do them justice. The first two songs are originals that at the time were also released as singles.

The first song, »I'm A Whole New Thing«, is an uptempo song that much recalls, from the very first bars, »In The Midnight Hour«. It is a very danceable tune which I like a lot.
The second song, »The Real Thing«, is a ballad and actually a showcase for the blessed voice of Venetta Fields. It is lavishly orchestrated and introduced by a somewhat melodramatic, slightly bombastic part that exhibits much »churchy feel«.

Finally, the third song, »In The Midnight Hour«, is a cover of Wilson Pickett's great hit (r&b # 01 in the summer of 1965). Comparing it with the numerous cover ver- sions of Pickett's song in existence I always thought that the Mirettes really did a good job. Their recording stands out among the many others we have of that song.

The Mirettes:
»I'm A Whole New Thing« / »The Real Thing« / »In The Midnight Hour« from the Revue LP 7205 (1968):

From BILLBOARD, February 24, 1968

Monday, April 04, 2011

He Had A Dream

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Mulberry Street in Memphis. This motel today hosts the National Civil Rights Museum.

MLK June 23, 1963, Cobo Hall, Detroit
Today's anniversary of this dreadful event is a good time to listen again to one of the most moving, most convincing, most forceful speeches King ever held during his career. With many good reasons, and only little exaggeration, this speech may well be one of the most important speeches in the history of political rhetorics and public discourse. What I am referring to is King's Detroit address on June 23, 1963, on the occasion of the »Great March on Detroit«, delivered in Cobo Hall. (for photos of the location and the event visit the »Virtual Motor City« of Wayne State University.) This »Detroit Speech« is – quite unjustly – not as generally known or broadly remembered as some others of King's speeches, although it contains, in the final part, a first version of the famous »I have a dream«-passage, which then was to become world-famous by being included in King's address at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington (August 28, 1963), little more than two months later.

JET, Sept. 26, 1963
The »Detroit Speech« was released by Berry Gordy Jr., founder of Motown Records, in September 1963 on Motown's first non-music LP, viz. Gordy LP # 906, simply entitled »The Great March to Freedom« with the addition »Rev. Martin Luther King Speaks« plus date and location. This was, for the time, a noteworthy event, because for one thing Gordy supported the black Civil Rights movement and knew King personally (and met him on a number of occasions). But on the other hand, Gordy was in 1963 still reluctant to trumpet his involvement: Too much open participation in the black freedom movement carried the danger of antagonizing white customers, whose purchasing power made Motown Records »The Sound of Young America«. For this hesitant attitude, Gordy was then criticized by black and white activists alike, the former reproaching him for doing too little, the latter for doing too much already. It was only after the assassination of Martin Luther King, and I say this without sarcasm, that Gordy finally made his mind up and positioned Motown openly in support of the freedom movement. And even in this he always kept an eye on the possible positive effect for promoting Motown and selling its output ... and the mood in the country had changed a lot between 1963 and 1968. How Gordy reacted to the assassination of Martin Luther King, on occassion of its first anniversary on April 4, 1969, can be gleaned from a notice in JET:

JET April 10, 1969, p. 58

In how far Motown was involved in the »Great March to Freedom« in Detroit, June 1963, is an interesting story; also the Gordy LP # 906 could not be released without some complications. Suzanne E. Smith in Dancing in the Street: Motown and Cultural Politics of Detroit (Cambridge, Mass. 1999) and Brian Ward in Just My Soul Respon- ding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness, and Race Relations (Berkeley 1998) have reconstructed this story in detail, and you can read it in their accounts. I will come back to this argument on a future occasion. Today is not the day to do it. Today, you should listen to Martin Luther King.

* * *

Important passages from the »Detroit Speech« by Martin Luther King (June 23, 1963) from the Gordy LP »The Great March to Freedom«:

Segregation is Wrong (3rd part of the speech)

The events of Birmingham, Alabama, and the more than sixty communities that have started protest movements since Birmingham, are indicative of the fact that the Negro is now determined to be free.
     For Birmingham tells us something in glaring terms. It says first that the Negro is no longer willing to accept racial segregation in any of its dimensions. For we have come to see that segregation is not only sociologically untenable, it is not only politically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Segregation is a cancer in the body politic, which must be removed before our democratic health can be realized.
     Segregation is wrong because it is nothing but a new form of slavery covered up with certain niceties of complexity. Segregation is wrong because it is a system of adultery perpetuated by an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality.
     And in Birmingham, Alabama, and all over the South and all over the nation, we are simply saying that we will no longer sell our birthright of freedom for a mess of segregated pottage. In a real sense, we are through with segregation now, henceforth, and forevermore.

The Urgency of the Moment (5th part of the speech)

But these events that are taking place in our nation tell us something else. They tell us that the Negro and his allies in the white community now recognize the urgency of the moment.
     I know we have heard a lot of cries saying: »Slow up and cool off.« We still hear these cries. They are telling us over and over again that you’re pushing things too fast, and so they’re saying: »Cool off.« Well, the only answer that we can give to that is that we’ve cooled off all too long, and that is the danger. There’s always the danger if you cool off too much that you will end up in a deep freeze.
     »Well,« they’re saying, »you need to put on brakes.« The only answer that we can give to that is that the motor’s now cranked up and we’re moving up the highway of freedom toward the city of equality, and we can’t afford to stop now because our nation has a date with destiny. We must keep moving.
     Then there is another cry. They say, »Why don’t you do it in a gradual manner?« Well, gradualism is little more than escapism and do-nothingism which ends up in stand-stillism. We know that our brothers and sisters in Africa and Asia are moving with jet-like speed toward the goal of political independence. And in some communities we are still moving at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a hamburger and a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.
     And so we must say, now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to transform this pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our nation. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of racial justice. Now is the time to get rid of segregation and discrimination. Now is the time.
     And so this social revolution taking place can be summarized in three little words. They are not big words. One does not need an extensive vocabulary to understand them. They are the words »all,« »here,« and »now.« We want all of our rights, we want them here, and we want them now. This is the meaning.

The Price of Freedom / I Have a Dream (final part of the speech)

Now I do not want to give you the impression that it’s going to be easy. There can be no great social gain without individual pain. And before the victory for brotherhood is won, some will have to get scarred up a bit. Before the victory is won, some more will be thrown into jail. Before the victory is won, some, like Medgar Evers, may have to face physical death. But if physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children and their white brothers from an eternal psychological death, then nothing can be more redemptive. Before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood and called bad names, but we must go on with a determination and with a faith that this problem can be solved.
     And so I go back to the South not in despair. I go back to the South not with a feeling that we are caught in a dark dungeon that will never lead to a way out. I go back believing that the new day is coming. And so this afternoon, I have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

     I have a dream that one day, right down in Georgia and Mississippi and Alabama, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to live together as brothers.
     I have a dream this afternoon that one day, one day little white children and little Negro children will be able to join hands as brothers and sisters.
     I have a dream this afternoon that one day, that one day men will no longer burn down houses and the church of God simply because people want to be free.
     I have a dream this afternoon that there will be a day that we will no longer face the atrocities that Emmett Till had to face or Medgar Evers had to face, that all men can live with dignity.
     I have a dream this afternoon that my four little children, that my four little children will not come up in the same young days that I came up within, but they will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
     I have a dream this afternoon that one day right here in Detroit, Negroes will be able to buy a house or rent a house anywhere that their money will carry them and they will be able to get a job.
     Yes, I have a dream this afternoon that one day in this land the words of Amos will become real and »justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.«
     I have a dream this evening that one day we will recognize the words of Jefferson that »all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.« I have a dream this afternoon.
     I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low; the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places plain; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
     I have a dream this afternoon that the brotherhood of man will become a reality in this day. And with this faith I will go out and carve a tunnel of hope through the mountain of despair.

     With this faith, I will go out with you and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.
     With this faith, we will be able to achieve this new day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing with the Negroes in the spiritual of old: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!