Twenty-First Century Singers, Juanita Bynum & More
A new essay, video conversation and podcast! Details inside!
I hope this message finds you all well and settling into the fall (my favorite season!)
This newsletter is past due! I think when you read the latest feature, you’ll understand why. Last year, I taped a dozen or so episodes of Have You Ever Heard…? with the intention of writing essays to accompany each of them. The feature that drops today is the first of those.
The Twenty-First Century Singers was one of the most innovative contemporary gospel groups to emerge out of Nashville in the early 1970’s. They sang on dozens of albums in the Nashboro/Creed Records discography like Morgan Babb’s “Pray For Me” and Isaac Douglas’ “Do You Know Him,” but also sang on recording artists for country artists like Johnny Cash, Donna Fargo and Tom T. Hall and broke down racial and musical barriers in the city of Nashville.
I wanted to discuss their 1978 album Sunday Night Fever, so Charles Miller, Everett Drake, Frankie Henry and Robin Johnson, four of the six members who made up the group at the time, joined me on Zoom for a conversation, their first public discussion about the album, ever! It’s a crash course in Nashville music history. The accompanying essay is a deep dive into the group’s history and, thanks to conversations with his family and contemporaries, a glimpse into the personage of the visionary founder of the group, Johnny Whittaker.
You can watch our conversation and read the essay here. To get you started, here’s one of my favorite Twenty-First Century Singers recordings, led by Charles Miller.
Second, thank you for the incredible response to our new podcast Outlaw’s Evidence of the Unseen! Our second episode on Juanita Bynum went live last week and has already sparked some thought-provoking conversations in our various social media outlets. If you haven’t already joined us, you can find the podcast on your preferred platform here!
Finally, I’ve created a linktree to make accessing things like the #SundayMorningMusic playlist a little easier every week. Click here to access the playlist, find me on social media, and check out a few other things that I’m involved with.
Your support since the beginning of Have You Ever Heard…? at the beginning of the pandemic has meant so much me. Thank you for continuing that support through the newsletter. Your shares both privately via email and on social media have helped spread the word about this great music in a spectacular way and I’m so very grateful. Some have asked for a tip jar since this is a free subscription service, so it’s been added. If you are moved by the work that you read and would like to tip, you can here.
I’ll leave you with this Johnny Whittaker-led tune by the BC&M Mass Choir. I hope you come to love his work as much as I do!