By Jerry Zolten
From the Jim Crow international of Twenties Greenville, South Carolina, to Greenwich Village's Café Society within the '40s, to their 1974 Grammy-winning collaboration on "Loves Me Like a Rock," the Dixie Hummingbirds were one among gospel's so much sturdy and encouraging teams. Now, Jerry Zolten tells the Hummingbirds' interesting tale and with it the tale of a altering track and a altering country. whilst James Davis and his high-school buddies beginning making a song jointly in a rural South Carolina church they can no longer have foreseen the line that used to be approximately to spread earlier than them. They begun a ten-year jaunt of "wildcatting," touring from city to city, operating neighborhood radio stations, faculties, and church buildings, suffering to make a reputation for themselves. by way of 1939 the a cappella singers have been recording their four-part concord spirituals at the prestigious Decca label. by way of 1942 that they had moved north to Philadelphia after which ny the place, sponsored via Lester Young's band, they frequently introduced the home down on the city's first built-in nightclub, Café Society. From there the crowd rode a wave of recognition that might propel them to nation-wide excursions, significant checklist contracts, collaborations with Stevie ask yourself and Paul Simon, and a occupation nonetheless shiny this day as they technique their seventy-fifth anniversary. Drawing generously on interviews with Hank Ballard, Otis Williams, and different artists who labored with the Hummingbirds, in addition to with participants James Davis, Ira Tucker, Howard Carroll, and so forth, The Dixie Hummingbirds brings vividly to existence the expansion of a gospel crew and of gospel song itself.
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Extra info for Great God A’mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds: Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music
Their performance was an enormous success. Riding on a cloud of inﬂated assurance, that night after the program the quartet drove out of Atlanta and kept on going. “We just took off,” says Barney Parks. We were in a borrowed car. No money. We headed for West Virginia. Not able to buy the gas we should have, we cut the ignition and coasted down the hills. Nothing! Just nerve. Sleeping in the car. Standing on the corner not knowing anybody. Hungry. Stayed in Chattanooga and had to pawn one of Bonnie Gipson’s suits to get away from there.
The Hummingbirds celebrated this tradition when they performed for black audiences. ” While the early Dixie Hummingbirds worked in the spiritual tradition, they made changes, sampled, borrowed, and built on melody lines and ideas, adding nuances to make the songs their own. When they started as young boys, Davis and the others learned the traditional arrangements and melodies. As professionals, though, they were open to inﬂuences from outside the region and fed on competition from other groups.
Asked me if I think this looked like a [hesitates] damn nigger joint. You know. So I say, “No. ” So, we did that. Got whatever we wanted, and then kept going. Another time, we were working out of Albany, Georgia, and we came through Tifton. 22 you know. That’s because when we get to a program early—we sang in a lot of country places—we could get out in the woods and target practice. We were on our way through there and 44 Great God A’mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds some guys came up right along beside us and started calling us names.