Looking for the best in old black southern gospel music? Look no further than our blog! We’ve got all the classics, as well as some lesser known gems, that are sure to get your toes tapping.
Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland, and The Williams Brothers are three of the most legendary names in old black Southern Gospel music. These artists helped to pioneer the genre and shaped it into what it is today. They were all incredibly talented and their music still resonates with people today. Let’s take a closer look at each of these artists and their contributions to the world of old black Southern Gospel music.
The Fairfield Four
The Fairfield Four is one of the best known and most influential groups in the history of black Southern gospel music. Formed in the early 1920s, the group found success in the 1940s with their hit recording of “Lonesome Valley.” The Fairfield Four continued to record and perform throughout the rest of the 20th century, and their influence can still be heard in contemporary gospel music.
The Swan Silvertones
The Swan Silvertones were an American gospel music group, active for more than 50 years in the middle part of the 20th century. The group was formed in 1932 by singer and guitar player Claude Jeter, who would be the only constant member throughout the group’s history.
The Swan Silvertones were one of the most popular and influential gospel groups of their time, releasing dozens of recordings on various labels and touring extensively throughout the United States. They were especially known for their distinctive close harmonies and for Jeter’s “swan-like” falsetto voice, which can be heard on such classic recordings as “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” and “Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around”.
The group disbanded in the late 1980s, but reformed in recent years with several original members, including Jeter, who continued to perform and record until his death in 2009.
The Dixie Hummingbirds
The Dixie Hummingbirds are an American gospel music group. Formed in the early 1920s, they sang spirituals and other songs. In the 1930s and 1940s, they began recordings for Apollo Records and Decca Records. They were led for many years by Ira Tucker, Sr., though their current leader is Calvin Newton.
The Hummingbirds first recorded in 1928 for Columbia. Their second recording was “I’ll Overcome Some Day” for Decca in 1934. After World War II, they signed with Apollo Records and scored a number of hits, including “Christian’s Automobile” and “He Keeps Me Singing”. They switched to Peacock Records in the 1950s and continued to have success, especially with the song “Loves Me Like a Rock”, which became something of a crossover hit in 1973 when it was recorded by Paul Simon.
The Dixie Hummingbirds were one of the first African-American gospel groups to tour internationally, doing so in 1956. They have toured Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, and Australia; In 2001, they were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Born in New Orleans in 1911, Mahalia Jackson was one of the most celebrated gospel singers of her time. She began singing in church choirs as a child and went on to tour with the legendary gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. In the 1950s, Jackson became one of the first black gospel singers to cross over into the mainstream, thanks to her powerful and emotive vocals. She recorded hits like “Amazing Grace” and “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” which became an anthem for the Civil Rights movement. Jackson continued to tour and record until her death in 1972.
James Cleveland (December 5, 1931 – February 9, 1991) was an American gospel singer, musician, and composer. Cleveland was a driving force behind the creation of the Southern gospel sound by fusing the traditional black gospel quartet style with the mainstream evangelical sounds of musical individualism and contemporary composition which characterized white Southern Gospel. He was sometimes referred to as the “King of Gospel Music” and is credited with helping to bring gospel music to the mainstream.
The Mighty Clouds of Joy
The Mighty Clouds of Joy is an American Gospel music group. Formed in 1953 by Joseph W. Powell, the group has been influential in the development of contemporary gospel and influenced many other artists. The group has performed with several lineups over the years, but the original members reunited in 2010.
The Mighty Clouds of Joy were founded in 1953 by Joseph W. Powell, who had been singing gospel music since he was a child. Powell was inspired to form the group after hearing The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi perform. The original lineup consisted of Powell, John Frye, Oscar Treadwell, Willie Treadwell, and Henry Owens. The group recorded their first album, 1954’s Jesus Will Fix It, with Specialty Records.
The Mighty Clouds of Joy’s sound was a mix of traditional gospel and R&B; they were one of the first groups to use electric instruments in their recordings. The group became known for their high-energy live performances, which often included dance routines and pyrotechnics. They toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, performing at churches, nightclubs, and theaters.
The Mighty Clouds of Joy experienced several lineup changes in the 1970s; Joseph Powell retired from the group in 1972, and John Frye left in 1974. Willie Treadwell died in 1977. The group continues to perform and record with various lineup changes; the current members are Derrick Lee, Joseph Johnson Jr., Bruce Marshall Jr., Stanley Richardson Jr., Michael Williams Jr., Mitchell Jones Jr., and Larry Grant Jr.
The Mighty Clouds of Joy were inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.
The New Generation
There is a new generation of black southern gospel music lovers who are passionate about the music. This music has been around for many years, but it is only now that it is becoming more mainstream. This type of music is unique and soulful, and it has the ability to touch people’s hearts.
The Williams Brothers
The Williams Brothers are an American traditional black gospel music group from Saginaw, Michigan. The group was founded in 1938 by brothers Samuel T. Williams and Isaac Williams. The Williams Brothers were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends online Hall of Fame in 2006.
The New Generation is the second album released by The Williams Brothers on January 1, 1992. It features the lead single “Still Here”, which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart, and won a Dove Award for Traditional Gospel Recorded Song of the Year at the 1993 GMA Dove Awards.
Other notable singles from The New Generation include “Praise His Name”, which peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart, and “Somethin’ ‘Bout Love”, which peaked at number seven on the same chart.
Lee Williams and the Spiritual QC’s
Lee Williams and the Spiritual QC’s are a legendary Gospel Music quartet from Mississippi. For over 50 years, they have been entertaining audiences with their soulful sounds and message of hope. The group is made up of four members: Lee Williams (lead singer), James Dobbins (baritone), Kenneth Hollis (bass), and Willie Joe Ligon (tenor). Williams is the only original member still with the group.
The QC’s began their career in the late 1950s, singing at churches and schools in the Mississippi Delta region. They gained a wider audience in the 1960s when they started touring nationally. Over the years, they have toured with some of the biggest names in Gospel music, including Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland, Andrae Crouch, and The Fairfield Four.
The group has released dozens of albums, including live recordings, compilations, and new studio recordings. Their latest album, Bless His Name, was released in 2017. It features 16 tracks of traditional Black Gospel music that will lift your spirits and fill your soul with joy.
Kirk Franklin (born January 26, 1970) is an American gospel musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is known for leading urban contemporary gospel choirs such as The Family, God’s Property and One Nation Crew (1NC), and has won multiple awards, including thirteen Grammy Awards.