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Name: Rev. E. D. Campbell
Location: Memphis, TN
Born: ?
Died: ?
Biography Synopsis:

Research in Memphis City Directories turns up a bit of information on Rev. Campbell but also raises some questions. Nevertheless, the portrait that emerges is consistent with the picture painted .. of a small­time preacher, possibly of the "jack leg" type (i.e. without a regular congregation), who got a lucky break in recording for a major record company and had a brief period of fame before fading back into obscurity. No one named E. D. Campbell shows up in the years through 1926, suggesting that our man may have moved to Memphis, perhaps from the surrounding countryside, shortly before he first recorded or even that he was still living outside the city. Our Reverend also fails to turn up in the 1927 and 1928 City Directories. A further possibility might be that he went to Chicago following his initial recording success, for we find him in a Victor studio there in November of 1927 with a new congregation, a piano to accompany the singing, and generally more modern songs. (During a break in this session, one track was recorded by Paul Whiteman's Rhythm Boys, including Bing Crosby, and one wonders what the two aggregations thought of each other as they crossed paths in the studio.) ... It would appear that his formal preaching career lasted only a few years and may have been a reflex of his brief burst of success as a recording artist.
 - David Evans, The University of Memphis:
Document DOCD-5389 Notes
   (
www.document-records.com)
 

Recording career: February - November 1927
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Name: Carolina Gospel Singers
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Name: James and Martha Carson
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Name: Carter Family
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Name: Chattahoochie Valley Choir
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Name: The Christian and Missionary Alliance Gospel Singers
Aka: C & M A Gospel Quintette
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Recording career: 1923 - 1925
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Name: Rev. Edward W. Clayborn
Aka: Edward Clayborn / Clayburn / Claeburn
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Born: 1876 / 1880 / 1882 / 1885 / 1888?
Died: Ward 4, Pittsburgh, PA 1978
Biography Synopsis:

Rev. Edward W. Clayborn billed himself as "the Guitar Evangelist," and indeed he was, singing a kind of blues gospel not unlike the work of the better known Blind Willie Johnson. A brilliant guitarist and slide player, Clayborn recorded some 40 tracks for Vocalion Records between 1926 and 1930.
 - Steve Leggett: All Music Guide (http://www.allmusic.com)
 

Recording career: 1926 - 1930
Most popular song(s): "Your Enemy Can't Harm You (But Watch Your Close Friend)" and "The Gospel Train Is Coming" - both helped put Vocalion on the map as a serious contender in the Race records market and helped to ensure further recording sessions for Clayborn.
 
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Name: The Cleveland Coloured Quintet
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Biography Synopsis: Formed as a quintet in 1913 with the intent to sing only in their local church, they travelled extensively in the United States, Canada and Europe. They were also exceptional in that they sang with instrumental accompaniment during their early years.
Recording career: 1913 - 1948?
Most popular song(s):  
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References / links: 'Cleveland's Gospel Music', Frederick Burton, Arcadia Publishing 2003
       

 

Name: Cleveland Singers
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Name: Jaybird Coleman
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Name: Sam Collins
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Name: Elder Curry and Congregation
Location: Memphis, TN and Mississippi
Born: ?
Died: ?
Biography Synopsis:

"Elder Curry was a singing preacher and an underrated guitar player whose fervent, righteous sermons/songs featured staccato guitar lines, the full tilt barrelhouse piano of Elder Beck, and the stomping feet, clapped hands, and raised voices of his entire congregation, all of which make his records sound like a cross between a Saturday night speakeasy and a Sunday morning prayer meeting. He recorded 12 tracks (three of these were never issued) with his congregation and Elder Beck for Okeh Records at the King Edward Hotel in Jackson, MS, on December 16 and 18, 1930, including the marvellous "Memphis Flu", which holds some claim to being the first rock & roll record ever made. A song about the 1918/1919 influenza outbreak that killed some 700,000 Americans, "Memphis Flu" features a driving, relentless 4/4 beat that is as startlingly modern as the Old Testament fire-and-brimstone-styled lyrics are chillingly cold, placing the blame for the epidemic on all those sinners who provoked the wrath of God. Never has a song about the flu been so cold-hearted and yet sounded so joyous and (forgive the pun) infectious".
-  Steve Leggett, All Music Guide (http://www.allmusic.com)

"One of the great gospel recordings of yesteryear is "Memphis Flu" by Elder Curry. Recorded in 1930 the lyric describes that the influenza epidemic that spread through Memphis in the years following the First World War. The track is propelled by Elder Charles Beck's stomping eight-to-the-bar piano and Elder Curry's melodic guitar playing while Jo Ann Williams powers through the lead vocal while a raucous congregation urged her on. As the [Document Records] sleevenote rightly acknowledges, "The performance possessed an indescribable ebullience that surely must have prepared the way for the descent of the Holy Spirit." None of the seven other Curry sides here quite reached that same atmosphere though the powerful denouncement of illicit alcohol, "Drinking Shine", comes close".
 
- Tony Cummings, Cross Rhythms: Document BDCD-6035 Review
    (www.crossrhythms.co.uk)

"Biographically, little is known of these performers. According to Gayle Dean Wardlow's note to Origin LP OJL-13 (where "Memphis Flu" was first reissued in 1966), Elder Curry was "a preacher and elder in the Church of God in Christ since 1915" and had "active churches in both Morton and Jackson, Miss. (1965)". In the same notes Wardlow stated that Elder Charles Beck was considered by Curry to be the best sanctified player in Mississippi and was a member of Curry's church before relocating to Memphis, Chicago, and Africa, where he was a missionary at the time those notes were written. Additional information was collated by Ray Funk in 1991 for Columbia CK 46779. In those notes, Funk reports that Beck was ordained a minister in the Church of God in Christ by Bishop Mason himself (who founded the sect in 1895 in Memphis), and was an important itinerant minister for them with congregations in Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Pittsburgh. In postwar years, Beck recorded for Eagle, King, Deluxe, Gotham, Chess, Chart, and Folkways in a number of varying styles. Charles Beck died in 1966, survived by several children who continue his legacy in both the R & B and gospel fields".
 
-
Ken Romanowski, extract from Document BDCD-6035 Notes
   (
www.document-records.com)
 

Recording career: 1930
Most popular song(s): "Memphis Flu"
Musical Influences: Claims to being the first rock & roll record ever made.
References / links: Also see Elder Charles Beck

Document BDCD-6035

Elder Curry and Congregation

Yazoo 2021


 

Name:  
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