Essays & Articles

These essays and articles were mainly written by enthusiasts of gospel music as amateur writers. All essays are copyright of the authors. Please do not reproduce or distribute them without their prior knowledge and permission. They are provided here for educational use only.


Jaybird Coleman

 I’m Gonna Cross The River Of Jordan – Some of These Days
– By Mat Walklate
Extract: On my most recent album, Sea Of Blues, I wanted to include a track by Georgia-born, Alabama-based harmonica player and singer Jaybird Coleman. Since first hearing his playing, many years ago, I have always been entranced by his performances, and intrigued by his enigmatic though tragically short-lived career.
Children Go Where I Send Thee
– By Mat Walklate
Extract: Back in the 1990s, I purchased a Document Records compilation CD, entitled, ‘If You Take Me Back’. In amongst the excellent and varied tracks, was a 1941 recording of the Gospel song, ‘Children Go Where I Send Thee’
Secularisation & The Evolution of 20th Century Popular Music
– by Redmond Smith
Extract: Antonín Dvořák, a Czech composer who served as the Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York between 1892 and 1895, was introduced by one of his students, composer Harry Burleigh, to African American spirituals. …. While discussing the melodies that he’d heard throughout the country, Dvořák stated that ‘the most potent as well as the most beautiful among them, according to my estimation, are certain of the so-called plantation melodies and slave songs, all of which are distinguished by unusual and subtle harmonies, the like of which I have found in no other songs but those of old Scotland and Ireland.
Roots of Blind Willie Johnson
– by Max Haymes
…..There were indeed quite substantial number of songs and artists who influenced the Texas bottleneck guitar ace, forming an important factor in the roots of Blind Willie Johnson.
Fatted Calf’s Blues – The First Golden Age
(African American Gospel & Sacred Songs : 1902-1942)
– by Max Haymes
…amongst the plethora of early gospel recordings available to us, there are some of the ordinary, forgettable even – BUT there is also a whole body of music which is as intensely felt, emotionally sung, and sometimes as beautiful and ethereal a quality as the finest of not only the post-war gospel but also the cream of the early blues.
“We Gonna Face The Risin’ Sun”
(A different (?) slant on the 4 and 20 elders – a pre-Christian root from Africa)
– by Max Haymes
The above main title comes from a recording by the Delta Big Four from Mississippi who cut it c. 25th. May 1930, in Grafton, Wisconsin, for the Paramount Record label.  Called We All Gonna Face The Rising Sun, it had been previously recorded by other artists as ‘Four And Twenty Elders’….

The Hyrax

“Blues Jumped A Hyrax Where The Vulture Builds It’s Nest”
(‘Scientific’ roots of iconic animals from the bible)
– by Max Haymes
The Hyrax or ‘rock-rabbit’ (a rabbit-like creature from parts of Syria and South Africa) “is a very watchful creature, … [and] In consequence of its activity and cunning, the rock-rabbit is seldom killed by white men …”
Gon’ Act Like A Preacher, Ride From Town To Town
– by Max Haymes
A brief survey of black preachers in the south – before 1940
History & Mystery (a long shot in early blues & gospel)
– recordings of the Dixie Symphony Four
–  by Max Haymes
Sometime ago in the mid-1930s, (or a few years earlier) an African American group known variously as the Dixie Symphony Four or Dixie Symphony Singers recorded six performances for a record company on a radio station in San Francisco, California