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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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Name: Daniels-Deason Sacred Harp Singers
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Name: Theodore Roosevelt Darby
Aka: "Blind Teddy Darby", "Blind Darby", "Blind Blues Darby" and "Blind Squire Turner"
Location: St Louis
Born: Henderson, Kentucky, 2nd March 1906
Died: East St Louis, Ill, December 1975
Biography Synopsis:

Teddy Darby was born in Henderson, Kentucky, but his family moved to St. Louis while he was still a child. His mother taught him to play the guitar, but he was more inclined toward bootlegging. He spent a year in a reformatory and later another year in the city workhouse - both sentences were for selling moonshine. In 1926 Darby lost his eyesight because of glaucoma. Soon after going blind, he took up the guitar again. By the late twenties, he was a mainstay of the local blues scene. He moved to East St. Louis and began a longtime association with Peetie Wheatstraw, backing him on guitar when Charley Jordan was unavailable.

Darby renounced the blues for the church in the late 1930s. We called him "Preacher Darby" said Henry Brown. He remained in East St. Louis and became an ordained deacon at the King Solomon Holy House of Prayer.
 

Recording career: 1929 - 1937
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Name: Rev. Gary Davis
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Name: Deacon Leon Davis
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Name: Walter Davis
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Name: Blind Willie Davis
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Name: Rev. W. M. McKinley Dawkins
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Name: The Deep River Songbirds
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Location: Cleveland, Ohio
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Biography Synopsis: All female group comprising: Ruth Wallace, Cornell Thompson, Beatrice Addie, Josaphine Wilkes, Primel Wilkes, and Eloise Burnett.
Recording career: 1940s - 1950s
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References / links: 'Cleveland's Gospel Music', Frederick Burton, Arcadia Publishing 2003
       

 

Name: Delta Big Four
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Name: Rev. Emmet(t) Dickinson
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Name: Dinwiddie Colored Quartet
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Name: Dixie Hummingbirds
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Name: Dixie Sacred Trio
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Name: Calvin P. Dixon
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Name: Rev. Mose Doolittle
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Name: Thomas A. Dorsey ('Georgia Tom')
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Name: Arizona Juanita Dranes
Aka: Also known as "Blind Arizona". Her correct last name has been reported as "Drane", as listed in the official enrolment record for the 1896-1897 school year at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (but was this just a miss-spelling?).
Location: Oklahoma City and Dallas, TX
Born: 4th April 1891 (or 1894), Greenville (or Sherman or Dallas), TX
Died: 27th July 1963, Los Angeles
Biography Synopsis:

Arizona Juanita Dranes, of mixed African-American and Mexican-American heritage, was born on April 4, 1894, in Greenville, Texas. Her mother was Cora Jones, and her father's surname was Dranes. She lost her sight in an influenza outbreak early in her childhood. She attended the Institute for Deaf, Dumb and Blind Colored Youths (later Texas Blind, Deaf, and Orphan School) in Austin from 1896 until 1910, when she graduated. There she received her first music lessons. Some years after graduation, perhaps about 1920, she helped Ford Washington McGee (Rev. F.W. McGee), a singing preacher, establish a Church of God in Christ in Oklahoma City . She later lived in the musically rich Deep Ellum district of Dallas, where she learned piano and developed her own distinct "sanctified" style of playing, known as "gospel beat." It combined the ragtime and barrelhouse traditions to produce a rolling blues sound. Dranes's piano playing was accompanied by her penetrating singing, which derived from the emotional shout song of traditional gospel music.

Eventually she became a regular pianist and singer for various traveling ministers of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC ), a national black Pentecostal church that has since developed into the largest of its kind. Dranes spent much of this early period with COGIC traveling through Texas and Oklahoma and aiding in the "planting" of new churches. In the mid-1920s she settled back in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and was soon spotted by OKeh Record Company scout Richard M. Jones. The company took Dranes to Chicago for recording sessions in 1926 and again held sessions in Dallas in 1928. [In 1926 recording sessions she was supported by the Rev. F.W. McGee and His Jubilee Choir. Rev. McGee himself went on to become a popular recording artist for Victor and he had Dranes to thank for this.] During her contract with OKeh she recorded more than thirty tracks, including such gospel standouts as "I Shall Wear a Crown" and "My Soul Is a Witness for the Lord." Though she was a top gospel star for the OKeh label, correspondence between Dranes and the record executives indicate that she was often underpaid.

With the onset of the Great Depression, Blind Arizona Dranes fell into obscurity. She continued her performances in church services and may have lived in Memphis and possibly Oklahoma City in the 1930s. Her last known public concert was held in Cincinnati in 1947. In 1948 she moved to Los Angeles, where she lived until her death on July 27, 1963. Her death certificate listed her profession as a missionary and that she was buried at the Paradise Memorial Park in Santa Fe Springs, California. She was one of the most influential and innovative gospel pianists of the twentieth century.
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Bradley Shreve, "DRANES, ARIZONA JUANITA [BLIND ARIZONA]," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdr16), accessed June 21, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
 

Recording career: 1926 - 1928
Most popular song(s): "I Shall Wear a Crown", "My Soul Is a Witness for the Lord" and
"He Is My Story"
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Later gospel artists, such as Roberta Martin, Clara Ward, Madame Ernestine B Washington and Goldia Haynes, were heavily influenced by her piano playing and her nasal singing style also had an impact on artists such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
 

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Name: Dunham Jubilee Singers
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Click on the large 'Initial' at the top of the page to return to the Early Gospel Singers Introduction, or click on an initial below to take you to details of more early gospel singers:

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