Various Artists (from the album Sacred Soul of South Carolina available on Bible & Tire Recording Co.)
Sourcing a tradition that reaches as far back as the 17th century, the dozen and a half songs that encompass this compelling collection of religious revelry are gleaned from an upcoming documentary that surveys Gospel music indigenous to Eastern North Carolina. Presented in a style similar to archival field recordings, the music is sacred in nature, while also incorporating elements of Blues, Funk, and R&B in a decidedly demonstrative manner.
That said, every offering provides an astute example of the power and passion that empowers these performers and effectively stirs the senses. The call and response of the Vines Sisters’ “Tell It to Jesus” rings with the same enthusiasm shared in the Dedicated Men of Zion’s robust “It’s A Shame”. Johnny Ray Daniels’ upbeat and effusive “Glory Glory” finds a fit with the drive and determination conveyed by Bishop Albert Harrison & The Gospel Tones in “Shake Me Lord”. In other words, there’s not a single entry here that fails to come across as both moving and memorable.
So too, despite the fact that some of the music benefits from contemporary arrangements and savvy studio techniques, all of it possesses the same raw urgency and undiluted emotion. The message remains the same throughout, even though the treatment may vary from song to song. Outreach and optimism are the overriding elements, and the strained voices and earnest entreaties never falter or fluctuate. For example, Big James Barrett & The Golden Jubilees underscore “Use Me Lord” with a soulful groove, but still keep the insistent strains of its repeated refrain intact. On the other hand, “Ask God in Faith” relies only on the group’s massed harmonies and a simple stomp to propel their prayers forward.
The revelry keeps a consistency that’s shared by each of these ensembles, and when taken in tandem, the exhilaration is as affecting as it is impressive.
Consequently, most listeners will find it all but impossible to resist the energy and enthusiasm these ensembles express so effectively. All share a driving delivery that fully reflects faith and frenzy in equal measure. Indeed, even atheists and agnostics might find these performances far too compelling to resist.
Ultimately then, that makes Sacred Soul of North Carolina an ideal example of how the power of prayer can result in exuberance and inspiration. Given these troublesome times, that’s reason enough to rejoice. (By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Sacred Soul of South Carolina from Amazon
Please visit the Sacred Soul of South Carolina website for more information