Early Gospel Singers – M

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Name: Lil McClintock
Location: Clinton, South Carolina
Born: ?
Died: ?
Biography Synopsis: Lil McClintock was an American country blues songster who accompanied himself on acoustic guitar. Not much is known about McClintock’s personal life, before or after he recorded four sides for Columbia Records. Interest in his recordings has been revived over the years, and they are prized by collectors.

McClintock worked as a street performer in Clinton, South Carolina, before he was tasked by manager of Cooper’s Furniture Store, Burm Lessie, with accompanying another local musician, Blind Gussie Nesbitt, to record for Columbia Records. Unbeknownst to Lessie, he first encountered McClintock in 1923 when he wrote a ballad about Delia Holmes, an individual who gained some media attention for being murdered in a casino in Georgia. McClintock was commonly referred to as “Lil”; it has been speculated that this was either an abbreviation of little or a reference to his tall, thin figure.

After traveling by train, McClintock recorded two gospel numbers and two “coon songs” on December 4, 1930. The latter two compositions are in a musical subgenre that is seldom republished, because of its blatantly racist representations of black people. First among the pair was “Don’t Think I’m Santa Claus”, which has a refrain derived from minstrel shows and a rudimentary banjo-inspired accompaniment. Another song, “Furniture Man”, played in a similar style, refers to black people as coons and advertises Cooper’s Furniture Store in the process. In keeping with the minstrel-influenced qualities, McClintock addresses himself as “Mr. Brown” throughout the song. Both McClintock’s and Nesbitt’s recordings were issued in pressings of 750 copies in June 1931; McClintock fared better, as all four of his sides were released.

Following the recording session, McClintock completely disappeared from any documentation. His records have become some of the rarest and sought after items among collectors, with any surviving issues being in pristine condition. In 1986, all of his recordings were issued on the compilation album Atlanta Blues 1927–30: The Complete Recordings in Chronological Order of Julius Daniels and Lil McClintock, which includes McClintock’s material with that of the guitarist Julius Daniels

Source: Wikipedia

See also article on Earlyblues.com : Lil McClintock, Blues and Medicine Shows

Recording career: 1930
Most popular song(s): Gospel:

Sow Good Seeds

Mother Called Her Child To Her Dying Bed

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Name: Mother McCollum
Aka: Sister Gertrude Morgan Mother McCollum, also as McCollum’s Sanctified Singers
Born: Lafayette, Alabama 1900
Died: New Orleans, Louisiana 1980
Biography Synopsis: Nothin is known about Mother McCollum
Recording career: 1930 – 6 songs
Most popular song(s): “Jesus Is My Air-O-Plane”
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Name: Rev. Ford Washington (F. W.) McGee
Location: Chicago, Il
Born: 1890
Died: 1971
Biography Synopsis:

Expertly blending lively congregational singing with powerful preaching, the Reverend F.W. McGee was among the most popular country gospel performers of the pre-Depression era. Born Ford Washington McGee in Winchester, Tennessee on October 5, 1890, he was raised primarily in Hillsboro, Texas; married at the age of 20, within a year and soon after relocating to Oklahoma, he began a career as a teacher. Previously a pastor in a Methodist church, McGee converted to Charles H. Mason’s Memphis-based Church of God in Christ in 1918, in part attracted to their more energetic singing style. By 1920 he had largely abandoned teaching to pursue preaching full-time, and through his revival meetings became a crucial figure in the COGIC’s encroachment into Kansas and Iowa. He later built a congregation in Oklahoma City with the assistance of the noted sanctified singer/pianist Arizona Dranes; by 1925, McGee had also established the first of two tents in the Chicago area.

When Dranes made her first recordings for OKeh in 1926, she recruited McGee and his Jubilee Singers to back her up; in early 1927, he made his headlining debut — albeit mistakenly labeled “Rev. F.N. McGee” — with “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” He next appeared on Victor a few months later, recording four more titles; among them were “Jonah in the Belly of the Whale” and “With His Stripes We Are Healed,” which coupled together on a 78 reportedly sold over 100,000 copies. Another Victor session followed before the end of year, yielding the hit “Babylon Is Falling Down”; McGee’s popularity as a recording artist also greatly increased the size of his congregation, and by 1928 he had outgrown his tents and built his own Chicago church. His later recording sessions focused primarily on preaching, with musical backing almost incidental; a July 16, 1930 New York City studio date was McGee’s last, although he remained active in the COGIC throughout the decades to follow. He died in 1971.

Source: AllMusic.com by Jason Ankeny

Recording career: 1927 – 1930
References / links: Discography of American Historical Recordings
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Name: Elders McIntorsh and Edwards
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Name: Blind Willie McTell
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Name: McCoy & Johnson
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Name: Luther Martin Magby
Location: South Carolina
Born: 5th June 1896
Died: 10th November 1966
Biography Synopsis: Luther Martin Magby was an American gospel singer who recorded two songs for Columbia Records in Atlanta, Georgia on November 11, 1927, in which he both sang and accompanied himself on harmonium and tambourine. He and his wife Mamie were born in South Carolina. At the time of the 1920 Census, they and their one-year-old son Luther C. were living on a farm in Greenville County, South Carolina; Luther’s occupation was recorded as “Farmer, General Farm”. He is recorded as having died in Hartley County, Texas; although his residence at the time is recorded as Dalhart, Texas, which is in Dallam County. In 2002, Luther Magby was performing in gospel shows at state fairs. The surname is uncommon, and that may have been the son, Luther C., already mentioned.

Source: Wikipedia

Recording career: 1927
Most popular song(s): Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

Jesus Is Getting Us Ready for the Great Day

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Name: Roberta Martin
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Name: Rev. R. M. Massey
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Name: Sister Matthews
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Name: Megginson Female Quartette
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Name: Memphis Sanctified Singers
Aka: Bessie Johnson & Her Sanctified Singers
Location: Memphis, TN
Biography Synopsis: Led by Bessie Johnson and also featuring Melinda Taylor and Sally Sumler, the Memphis Sanctified Singers recorded several sides for Victor during the late ’20s. Though many of their sides were released as Bessie Johnson & Her Sanctified Singers, Harry Smith’s popular 1952 folksong compendium Anthology of American Folk Music listed the group as the Memphis Sanctified Singers. All six sides recorded by the group appear on the Document collection Memphis Gospel: Complete Works (1927-1929). They also appeared on several recordings by the Elders McIntorsh and Edwards’ Sanctified Singers (also featured on the same compilation).

Source: AllMusic

Recording career: 1927 – 1929
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Name: Middle Georgia Singing Convention No. 1
Location: Georgia
Biography Synopsis: The Middle Georgia Singing Convention N.1, about whom nothing is known, recorded 6 sides in Atlanta, Georgia in December 1930. Middle Georgia Singing Convention belong to the african-american shape-note singing tradition but the style of the performance is quite distinct from Sacred Harp singing as the voices of the singers harmonize in very rhythmic and syncopated patterns giving the song an almost robotic cadence.
Recording career: 1930
Most popular song(s): This Song of Love
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Name: Rev. J. M. Milton
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Name: Rev. E. S. (Shy) Moore
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Name: Rev. W. M. Mosley
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Name: Mount Vernon Choir
Location: Mount Vernon , WA
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Recording career: 1926 – 1931
Most popular song(s): Swing Low Sweet Chariot
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To help with further browsing click on the large ‘Initial’ to return to the Early Gospel Singers Introduction, or click another initial to take you to details of more early gospel singers.

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Please Note:

As this is a continuously developing website, several entries only give the names with no biographical details. Please be patient as these entries are included for completeness, indicating the details are ‘coming soon’ and will be added when time allows.

If there are any early (pre war) gospel singers missing from the lists that you think should be included, please email the details to alan.white@earlygospel.com. Thank you in advance for your assistance.