FEATURED ARTIST / S
|Rev. Johnnie Blakey|
|Rev. Sister Mary Nelson|
|Elders McIntorsh and Edwards|
Rev. Sister Mary M. Nelson, vocal.
Lonnie McIntorsh, vocal, guitar.
Rev. Johnny Blakey, sermons.
Bessie Johnson, vocal.
Memphis Sanctified Singers, vocal, with Will Shade, guitar.
Booklet Notes written by Ray Funk & Mason Damrau.
Memphis may be better known for the blues or Sun Records but it has been equally important as a centre for black gospel music. The quartet scene with groups like the Spirit of Memphis, the Southern Wonders and Sunset Travelers has been documented in Kip Lornell's book, Happy in the Service of the Lord: Afro-American Gospel Quartets in Memphis. Two of the greatest gospel songwriters, Lucie B. Campbell and Rev. W. H. Brewster, both called Memphis their home. Equally important is the fact that Memphis was the place where the most important of all the holiness denominations, the Church of God in Christ, was founded and is still based with annual conventions every fall. It was 1895 when Bishop Charles Mason founded the Church and, in its flock, many of the great gospel singers have flourished from Ernestine Washington to contemporary groups like the Clark Sisters.
The sanctified sound of the holiness churches was one that encouraged expressive and irrepressible outpourings of the spirit. The singers were neither afraid to use instruments, nor to let the congregation fully participate by hand clapping, shouts, and joining in. Salvation was participatory and the saints in the pews were there not to let the word wash over them but to have the spirit carry them away. It is the early flowering of the sanctified sound that is represented here in the recordings of Bessie Johnson and Rev. Sister Mary Nelson. The two selections under the name the Memphis Sanctified Singers have a more restrained feeling and feature guitar that may have been by Will Shade of the Memphis Jug Band. This disc is filled out with the complete recorded repertoire of the four selections by Rev. Sister Mary Nelson.