James Cleveland, Nashville Gospel & stocking stuffers
What incredible response to the Donna McElroy feature! It was the second installment in what I see as a series of articles about the important role that Nashville artists have played in the evolution of contemporary gospel (the first was on Johnny Whittaker & The Twenty-First Century Singers). I’m hard at work on the third part of this series slated for January 2022, which will focus on singer/songwriter Bob Bailey and his Grammy-nominated 1983 album I’m Walkin’ .
I was also excited to have had a conversation with Todd Burns for his Music Journalism Insider newsletter. It’s an incredibly thoughtful conversation about my path as both an artist and a writer and the work that I’m doing via this newsletter. I hope you enjoy it!
Finally, if you’re looking for some last minute Christmas gifts for any of your family/friends who love words and music, here’s a few recommendations:
Robert Marovich’s Peace Be Still: How James Cleveland and the Angelic Choir Created a Gospel Classic is an essential read, chronicling for the first time the making a gospel album that changed the game. It’s the book Rev. Cleveland’s work has long deserved. For more from Marovich on Rev. Cleveland, read his even more intensive book The King of Gospel Music (just nominated for a Grammy!) which tackles the full scope of Rev. Cleveland’s career—and includes 4 CDs.
Earlier this year, I was commissioned to write the liner notes for a 3 disc collection that collects the Sweet Inspirations’ Atlantic Records recordings from 1967-1970. Cissy Houston, Estelle Brown, Myrna Smith and Sylvia Shemwell created their own wall of sound, bridging gospel, soul, country and blues into a sound that belonged exclusively to them. Let It Be Me: The Atlantic Recordings 1967-1970 includes my 7500 word essay and these classic recordings remastered with tender loving care.
Back in 2015 I collected some poems and journal entries written during a dark night of the soul when my body endured a physical collapse just after the New Year in 2012 (a decade ago in January!), following an emotional and spiritual storm. The Road Home to You: A Singer’s Journey from Exile To Gospel was inspired by Rev. Cleveland, Aretha Franklin, my beloved New Life Singers and the spirits who drew me back from the valley of the shadow of death. Below is a blast from the past: my 2006 collaboration with my friend, the late Daryl Coley.
I’m wishing all of you a safe and peace holiday. Thank you for hanging here with me at God’s Music Is My Life and for all of the encouragement you’ve brought into my life this year! I’ll see you in 2022!