Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

Document Records
Rev Kelsey 1947 - 1951

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Rev. Samuel Kelsey
Sister Lena Phillips


Rev. Kelsey And His Congregation
01 - Old ship of zion Listen
02 - Hide my soul Listen

Lena Phillips (from Re. Kelsey's Church)
03 - Lord send the rain Listen

Rev. Kelsey And His Congregation
04 - I`m a soldier (mf-133) Listen

Lena Phillips with Mixed Choir
05 - Lord I`ve tried Listen
06 - Babylon Listen

Rev. Kelsey And His Congregation
07 - Tell me how long (bnf-1) Listen
08 - Evening prayer Listen
09 - The storm is passing over Listen
10 - Little Boy (mf 132) Listen
11 - Heaven is mine Listen
12 - I`m a soldier (10797) Listen

Lena Phillips
13 - I`m striving to make it to the promised land Listen
14 - All that I have is in Jesus Listen
15 - After awhile Listen

Rev. Kelsey
16 - Marriage prologue and benediction wedding ceremony pt. 1 & 2 Listen

Rev. Kelsey And His Congregation
17 - I`m a witness for my Lord Listen
18 - I`m a royal child Listen
19 - Where is the lion in the tribe of Judea? Listen
20 - Shine for Jesus Listen
21 - Little Boy (dw 81731) Listen
22 - Low down the chariot Listen

Rev. Kelsey, Preaching and singing.
Includes: Lena Phillips, vocal; Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Russell Morrison, comments; Cifton Chandler, trombone; and others...
Gernes: Gospel, Sermons with singing.

Informative booklet notes by Bob Laughton.
Detailed discography.

Amen, hallelujah! When record players still had three - or even four - speeds, I used to own the three Vocalion 78s that contained the last six of the above titles. Like a lot of people, I have more suspicion than religion, but I couldn't help but respond to Rev. Kelsey's bellowed benedictions. His congregation, too, deserve their credit, for in their spoken and sung responses they stoke the fire of the reverend's rhetoric. Listening to these tracks for the first time in twenty years, each nuance and tone in his voice leapt immediately to mind. Now that's power.

Kelsey was plainly a charismatic preacher, not because he claimed the power of healing but because he bellowed belief into his congregation, overwhelming their minds with the simple power of his own undoubted belief. He had an intimate acquaintance with his flock, stage-managing their responses as he and they chanted 'Amen! at one anther. This intimacy is best exemplified by the twelve plus minutes of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's marriage to Russell Morrison on July 3, 1951. As well as a benevolent patriarch, he was also something of a comedian and raises hilarity several times as he performs the ceremony for licence no. 356,796, breaking off at one point to announce, "I know how to marry people. I know how to put them together. If they don't stay together, it's not my fault."

These recordings, made for Scoop, Super Disc, MGM and Decca, generally consist of a short sermon followed by a rousing sing-along, accompanied by rasping trombone and piano. During his first version of 'I'm A Soldier', Kelsey breaks off his singing to recite the address of his Washington, D.C. church. Four tracks, including 'Lord Bring The Rain' and the sequence beginning with 'I'm Striving To Make It To The Promised Land', feature the lusty tones of Lena Phillips. In his notes, Bob Laughton modestly suggests that Rev. Kelsey was the best Holiness preacher of his generation and these recordings the very best of their genre. I've no argument with that. In fact, I second the motion. Can I get an 'Amen'?

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