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Tag: Archie Brownlee

Sunday, January 18th

more of Archie B.

Five Blind Boys of Mississippi (feat. Archie Brownlee [1925-1960], lead vocals)

“Will My Jesus Be Waiting,” 1952


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“Where There’s a Will,” 1958


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“That Awful Hour,” 1960


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“Take Your Burdens to Jesus,” 1959


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lagniappe

reading table

Life shoots you a lethal dose of time. Time is a drug that wears off.

—Samantha Harvey, Dear Thief

Sunday, January 11th

two takes

“Jesus Gave Me Water” (L. Campbell)

Original Five Blind Boys (Archie Brownlee, lead vocals), 1950


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Soul Stirrers (Sam Cooke, lead vocals), 1951


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lagniappe

art beat

Lee Friedlander (1934-), Young Tuxedo Brass Band, New Orleans, 1959

0114_Photo_Jazz_Young-Tuxedo_600

Sunday, 4/10/11

Claude Jeter, Inez Andrews, Archie Brownlee, Dorothy Love Coates, this guy: where else can you find so many unforgettable voices?

Soul Stirrers (featuring R. H. Harris), “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” (1946)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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lagniappe

When R. H. Harris, the renowned gospel tenor, died last month, I went back to the records he had made in the 1950’s with his quartet, the Soul Stirrers. Harris was the — founder is not too strong a word — of a soul singing that concentrated on supple phrasing and tonal sweetness. He could, as Tina Turner used to say, ”do it rough,” but there was a core of reticence, even melancholy in him. His roughness was strategic.

The Soul Stirrers set the mold for other outstanding quartets like the Swan Silvertones and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, and for younger soul singers, from Sam Cooke (trained by Harris) to David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks of the Temptations (Harris had mastered husky rhythm singing and falsetto), and Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye.

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The discipline required of a first-rate ensemble, vocal or instrumental, translates into the kind of musical discretion that comes only from intense on-the-spot listening. Not biding time or doing cute things onstage until your solo comes, but listening. Take melisma (one syllable stretched over many notes), the vocal weapon so battered and abused by pop singers today. Harris was a master of it. For him it was a musical resource, like dynamics or timbre, not a way of muscling listeners to the ground till they screamed and clapped, maybe because they were overpowered, maybe just to stop the madness.

The Soul Stirrers’ a cappella harmonies are deeply satisfying. And when Harris rises above them with his pure, true pitch (pitch is usually the missing element in today’s melisma mania), you will experience true bliss.

—Margo Jefferson, New York Times, 10/2/00

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reading table

The self never ages.

—Roland Barthes, Mourning Diary (trans. Richard Howard, 2010)

Sunday, 2/14/10

Where did Wilson Pickett (2/12/10) get that clenched, piercing, back-of-the-throat scream?

The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi (featuring Archie Brownlee)

“Never Turn Back” (1948)

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“Will Jesus Be Waiting?” (1952)

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“Save A Seat For Me” (c. 1956)

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“Leaning On The Everlasting Arms” (c. 1959)

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lagniappe

‘Archie started that scream you hear all the soul singers do,’ the great Ira Tucker of the Dixie Hummingbirds observed. ‘Now plenty of us used to scream, but Archie really brought it out.’—Arthur Kempton, Boogaloo: The Quintessence of American Popular Music (2005)

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After he left gospel, Sam Cooke once told a friend that he would always tear up when he would listen to Brownlee: ‘He’s the only one who could do that—to move me like that.’—Robert Darden, People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music (2004)

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