blog #6 – Feel The Spirit by The Williams Brothers written by Joshland Shervette
I love the gospel album by The Williams Brothers entitled, Feel The Spirit released in 1983. The group members consisted of three brothers: Doug Williams, Leonard Williams, Melvin Williams, and their cousin, Henry Green.
I was about 6 years old when this album came out. For some reason, my Dad would play this album when we would go on long car trips to Los Angeles-----not that I complained because I LOVED IT! This album was played on a cassette tape in the white, El Dorado Cadillac my Dad drove. We would travel there from San Jose, where we lived from my birth until I was 12 years old.
My Dad and my Mom were in the front seat. And there was my grandmother, me and sometimes my grandfather in the back seat. I used to sing along with my grandmother to this music. This brings back great memories. I called her Grammy.
For the most part, it would be my Grammy and me in the backseat, unless my Papa, who was my Grammy’s husband went with us. He did not travel with us all the time, but he did come with us sometimes.
The first song that was on this album was called Let It Show, but I always called it, I FEEL THE SPIRIT because that is what I heard The Williams Brothers repeating in the song. This song was led by Melvin Williams. At the beginning of the song, Melvin Williams had a preaching tone. Then, the song exploded with this AMAZING, unexplainable rhythm. It had such a wild bass line; it made me want to dance. Actually, I was dancing while I sat in the backseat of the car. And it made me feel like I was in church.
Oh, my goodness! I loved this song. And I still love it today! It was my favorite song on this album. The only problem I had with Let It Show was that it was way too short. It only lasted about 2 minutes and 38 seconds. I hated for that song to end. For me, it needed to be at least 10 minutes long.
There are various musical sounds and styles on this album. One of which was on another one of my favorites called Jesus Set Me Free. But again, I had another name for the song: MY GOD WILL MAKE A WAY. This was because I always remembered the lead singer, Doug Williams singing those words.
Jesus Set Me Free contains 3 genres of music. First off, it has a 1950s Doo-Wop style, especially when The Williams Brothers sang lyrics that sounded like, “Doo Wop Doo Wop Oooohhhh” in the background. Secondly, in my opinion, Doug Williams led the song like Sam Cooke would have during the time when he was a member of the Gospel singing group, The Soul Stirrers in the 1960s. Last of all, the song has a country music flare. There is a steel guitar playing on this song that I just could not get enough of. I enjoyed the part when Doug Williams sang, “Play the steel guitar” to introduce a short steel guitar solo toward the end of the song.
Now, I really enjoy the sound of a steel guitar on just about any country music song. But to incorporate the steel guitar with elements of Doo-Wop and the sound of Sam Cooke all into one gospel song?! WOW!!! How courageous of The Williams Brothers to bring all of these components together on this project. It was also courageous of the music producer of this album. Unfortunately, I do not know the person’s name.
After my sister was born, she would become restless and fidgety on our long car trips. I believe she was between 10 to 12 months old. She would want to come into the backseat with my Grammy and me from the front seat with my parents. So, when she was ready to go back to the front seat to be with my parents, my Grammy and I would applaud. This would go on continuously while we were listening to The Williams Brothers’ Feel The Spirit album on cassette tape.
I also remember the times when we were traveling in the same white Cadillac, listening to this very tape when my sister was a little bit older. I used to listen to her sing the “Doo Wop Doo Wop Oooohhhh” parts in the background of the song, Jesus Set Me Free. It was so cute!
There was another song on this album I loved entitled, I Had A Dream. But once more, I had my own name for this song: I HAD A DREAM LAST NIGHT. This was because Doug Williams repeatedly sang those words in the song. My Grammy would sing along with this song, and I didn’t really know all of the words to the song. So, I just listened to her sing along.
By the way, my Grammy was a great singer and musician in the church. She had a honky-tonk style of playing, and I along with everyone else loved to hear her play and sing in church.
I have been deeply influenced by this album because The Williams Brothers were and still are a Black Gospel quartet group. I was raised listening to this genre of music, and I LOVE IT! Now, I mentioned the fact that they are a Black Gospel quartet group because this genre of music is far different from other Gospel quartet groups. The Gospel quartet music genre normally consists of Caucasian singers.
Additionally, I love this album because there are so many different sounds on this project, as I stated earlier. And I love writing songs for albums that contain different sounds. I feel that every artist should be free to think and create outside of the box. The Williams Brothers have always moved with the times and incorporated contemporary sounds into their music without sacrificing their classic Williams Brothers sound. They have been a Black Gospel quartet group since they were little boys. But they have always possessed a contemporary, timeless sound.
Additionally, my Mom and Grammy would often reminisce about the time they attended a Williams Brothers concert at Brooks High School in Wichita, Kansas when they were very young boys.
My entire family has an ear for music, and we all loved this album back in the 1980s. I am so happy and grateful that Spotify has this album and it is available for our listening pleasure.
Now, without further ado, here it is! Listen to Feel The Spirit by The Williams Brothers on Spotify at: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2K5NaWKDqZ3sCJ9oOh6ufS?si=j9Vf9bXZRW2MG7bCGf5cpg
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Tramaine Hawkins’ album entitled, The Search Is Over, released in 1986 is full of fantastic music. I just love the song, How I Got Over, which she covered by The Clara Ward Singers. Clara Ward composed and published the song back in 1951. See the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_I_Got_Over.
Incidentally, Mahalia Jackson also covered How I Got Over. But Tramaine’s version of How I Got Over was very contemporary for that time, and still is to this very day; and the entire album is still contemporary.
There were movies from the 1970s that featured choirs singing How I Got Over. In fact, there are two movies that come to mind: Which Way Is Up starring Richard Pryor (see the video link: https://youtu.be/HsH1yKkc7j4) and Uptown Saturday Night starring Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby (see the video link: https://youtu.be/GslifVcIzp0.
Additionally, Aretha Franklin covered How I Got Over on her album entitled, Amazing Grace, which is still THE biggest selling live gospel album ever recorded (and is still the highest selling album of her entire career. See the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace_(Aretha_Franklin_album). You can actually see Aretha Franklin singing How I Got Over in the film, Amazing Grace, which was released in movie theaters in 2019. Clara Ward makes an appearance in the film as well.
All three versions of How I Got Over by The Clara Ward Singers, Mahalia Jackson, and Aretha Franklin are included on the Tramaine Hawkins The Search Is Over playlist link at the end of this blog.
I once met a man in the music industry who said his name was Robert Byron Wright. Now, I had never even heard of Robert Byron Wright. I thought to myself, “Who in the world is Robert Byron Wright?” Anyway, he told me that he actually produced, wrote, and arranged music for Tramaine Hawkins. And then I was in amazement. He produced, wrote, and arranged songs In The Morning Time (see link: https://www.discogs.com/Tramaine-In-The-Morning-Time/release/486572), Child Of The King (see link:
https://www.discogs.com/Tramaine-Child-Of-The-King/release/542057), and Fall Down (Spirit Of Love) on The Search Is Over project, which were all released as singles. Fall Down (Spirit Of Love) was a 12” Maxi-Single released in 1985 on vinyl containing 5 different versions of Fall Down (Spirit Of Love). (See link: https://www.discogs.com/Tramaine-Fall-Down-Spirit-Of-Love/master/173417).
My mom purchased this maxi single on vinyl. There was a beautiful, elegant fan on the cover. I remember my mom being so excited when she brought that album home. I was very excited to hear it too. I remember her snatching it out of the plastic bag and running to play it on the turntable in the living room. She sang and danced to that album countless times. Fall Down (Spirit Of Love) was and still is one of my favorite singles of all time.
Unfortunately, Robert Byron Wright died of cancer in 1988. Contrarily, this person in the music industry stated that HE was Robert Byron Wright in the year of 2004. Notwithstanding, Robert Byron Wright had already passed away 16 years prior. So, did Robert Byron Wright rise up from the dead? I don’t think so! Man! If only I had known this information before I let him sign my mother’s Fall Down (Spirit Of Love) single on vinyl.
It sounds funny, and I can chuckle about it now. But back then, I was so enthralled and captivated by this person’s alleged career in the music industry that I just believed whatever he said without any research. I should have checked the internet and did my research back then. It is a good thing that I have since learned to be more careful of whom to believe.
I later found out that Robert Byron Wright was a very successful music producer, songwriter, and arranger for Earth Wind & Fire and for many other artists. Here is the link to view all of Robert Byron Right’s music accomplishments:
Moreover, there are pictures of Robert Byron Wright on the website link below. And I DO KNOW that the pictures on this website WERE NOT of the man I met in 2004. Scroll all the way down on the page of this link until you see Robert Byron Wright’s brief music history:
I really love The Search Is Over album cover. I love the way Tramaine Hawkins is dressed. She looks like an elegant queen with a feathered fan covering one side of her face, and she is wearing a hat with a large, gold broach. The music on this project still sounds very modern and as fresh as it did when it first came out. I remember the music from The Search is Over being played on the radio when I was a young girl living in San Jose, California. The radio station that played The Search Is Over was called KSOL. It was an FM radio station that played gospel music on Sunday mornings. The radio host was Sheila Robinson, and she would play almost all of the songs from this album intermittently on different Sundays.
I remember my mom telling me that people were dancing to the songs from the Fall Down (Spirit Of Love) single in night clubs, which was looked upon by some Christians as sinful. But my mom didn’t think it was sinful, and neither did I! I thought it was so cool! How great was that?! People everywhere need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. And if people enjoyed the song enough to play it in the night clubs and dance to it, then that was a bonus. Gospel music is to be enjoyed by everyone; especially when the song is about wanting The Holy Spirit to fall down on you.
I can recall people talking about the song, Oh Happy Day. It was released in 1969 and covered by The Edwin Hawkins Singers. Oh Happy Day was played and danced to in the night clubs even way back then, and there were Christians who did not approve. So, what else is new?
With reference to Edwin Hawkins of The Edwin Hawkins Singers, he was Tramaine Hawkins’ brother-in-law. She was married to Edwin’s brother, Walter Hawkins. The entire Hawkins family wrote and sang some of the best gospel music ever!!! Their music will be featured in some of my upcoming blogs.
To further prove my point, The Clara Ward Singers, who were mentioned at the beginning of this blog were internationally known. They also sang in countless night clubs all over the world. They even performed in Las Vegas casinos for many years. Their night club shows were sold out, and everyone always enjoyed the gospel music they presented. According to the book entitled, How I Got Over: Clara Ward and the World-Famous Ward Singers by Willa Ward-Royster, it was stated that the night club patrons placed their glasses (that were designated for alcohol) underneath their tables while The Clara Ward Singers performed. This was because they respected their gospel message so much. And again, there were Christians who negatively responded to their success.
In conclusion, The Search Is Over by Tramaine Hawkins was and still is a phenomenal album. It still has a contemporary, fresh, and futuristic sound. This album is powerful and anointed by The Holy Spirit. So, now without further ado, here is The Search Is Over by Tramaine Hawkins on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2tj8PLFhLqnsyFDYqFPrmk?si=BNwJ0PwdT7q5blCv4sS4gQ
In 1983, Al Green’s White Christmas album was released. My dad would play this Christmas album all the time during the holidays, and I loved it! He would play it on our road trips too. In fact, this was the only Christmas album I remember hearing during my childhood. Of course, I heard and sang other Christmas songs, but Al Green’s was the only holiday album that I listened to time and time again, especially when I sat in the backseat of my parents’ white, Eldorado Cadillac.
I believe Al Green began exclusively recording Gospel music back in 1980. Since I grew up listening to Gospel music only, it made perfect sense for my dad to purchase his Christmas album in 1983 when I was about 6 years old. When I was little, I only knew Al Green to be a Gospel singer. Anyway, I remember my dad driving with my mom in the front seat, me in the backseat, and my grandmother was sitting back there with me, as she did on a lot of occasions. She was singing along with one of Al Green’s Christmas songs entitled, White Christmas. I wondered how she knew that song because my dad had just purchased the cassette tape. Afterall, this was Al Green’s new holiday album containing his BRAND NEW CHRISTMAS SONGS I hadn’t heard. The majority of those songs were new to me, especially, White Christmas (which was the very first song on the album). So, I was absolutely amazed at how she was singing along.
Later on, I found that mostly all of the Christmas songs on his album to be Christmas standards, except for 2 songs: What Christmas Means To Me (co-arranged by Al Green) and It Feels Like Christmas (written and arranged by Al Green). Thanks to my dad purchasing that tape, I had a very new and long-lasting Christmas experience with those new songs. Well, at least they were new to me.
It is no surprise that Al Green’s White Christmas album has been re-released by several different record labels at different times. What brings me the most pain is that the title of the album has been changed from White Christmas to The Christmas Album to Christmas to Feels Like Christmas. WHY?! The album entitled, The Christmas Album contains 4 bonus songs: My God Is Real, Glory, Glory, God Is Standing By, and God Blessed Our Love. I do love these songs, but they have no business anywhere near his Christmas album because THEY ARE NOT CHRISTMAS SONGS!!! It is also very unfortunate that the Christmas album’s current title, Feels Like Christmas contains one of the songs mentioned above by Al Green entitled, Glory, Glory. THIS IS NOT A CHRISTMAS SONG, EITHER!!!! It is simply ridiculous to include ANY of these songs in his collection of wonderful Christmas songs. Incidentally, the album covers for each re-released Christmas album were changed to some random, non-Christmas pictures of Al Green. What a shame!!! You can visit the website: https://www.discogs.com/Al-Green-White-Christmas/master/362158 to see which record labels re-released Al Green’s Christmas music.
As I mentioned toward the beginning of this blog, I only knew Al Green to be a Gospel singer. I had no idea he was a secular recording artist until I started listening to all of his previous recordings later on in my life of which I do enjoy. In the near future, I will explain how much Al Green’s Gospel music from the 1980s has meant to me in an upcoming blog or two.
Now, without further ado, here is Al Green’s original Christmas album (with the original Christmas songs in their proper order, the original album title, and with the original album cover---- the way it should be) entitled, White Christmas on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/4e0pz5p0leqwq8xnb0ccf6fwx/playlist/3fj1oIRoI6AkYLQpZyf9Qr?si=WxZXP45tQQOoOFhClbg3nw
The late and the GREAT Danniebelle Hall was an amazing singer and songwriter, musician, arranger, and lyricist. I remember when she came to our church (Prayer Garden Church Of God In Christ in San Jose, California) when I was about 4 or 5 years old. My mom told me she was there. It was during a Sunday night service, I think. No one knew she was coming. She just came unannounced.
I used to sing solos in church when I was little, and my mom taught me to sing two of Danniebelle’s songs: (1) Mary Had A Little Lamb (2) Turn It Over To Jesus. I never really felt that I did either one of her songs justice when I sang them. But my mom said I sang them well and the people at church seemed to like them, so………
I used to sit in the backseat of my parents’ El Dorado Cadillac and listen to Danniebelle sing-----and of course I would sing along with her. I just loved her music. I especially loved her live album recorded in Sweden entitled, "Live in Sweden with Choralerna". I also remember seeing her in concert a few times. Those were FANTASTIC memories. Incidentally, before she became a solo artist, she sang with the unparalleled Gospel artist Andrae Crouch and the Disciples (#andraecrouchandthedisciples). By the way, I LOVE ANDRAE CROUCH! He will be featured in one of my future blogs.
Anyway, back to Danniebelle at my church. My mom told me she was there so naturally, I wanted to hear her sing! Somehow, my mom gave word to a lady in our church. I do not remember who she was, but she told me that I would have to request for her to sing. In my mind, I wondered how I would make a request. And what was a request anyway? I was only about 4 or 5 years old.
Toward the end of that night’s service, I was told that I was to make my request for Danniebelle to sing. Appropriately, my mom told me what to say when it was time for me to go before the congregation to make my request. I was just a little bit nervous, and extremely confused. But I was willing to do whatever I had to do to hear Danniebelle sing.
Finally, I was called upon. I walked to the front of the sanctuary and there was a man who stood me upon the alter so everyone could see me. He handed me the microphone. In my little voice I said, “I would like to request Sister Danniebelle to sing a song.” Those were the words my mom gave me to say. Thank God for my mom.
When Danniebelle came up to sing, she gave me that big wonderful smile of hers and she hugged me so tightly. Then she told me, “You are so cute.” Oh my gosh! I did it!!! I made my request!!! I cannot even remember the song she sang. But I do remember that I actually felt loved by Danniebelle Hall. What an amazing night that was.
And now, without further ado, here are some of the greatest hits of Danniebelle Hall on Spotify:
Twinkie Clark is an amazing singer, organist, and song writing genius! She is one of the legendary, gospel singing Clark Sisters (#theclarksisters).
She released a PHENOMENAL solo album in 1979 entitled, Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark - Praise Belongs To God. Everyone calls her “Twinkie” Clark though. She looked so Regal on her album cover wearing a red rose in her hair. It was 1980 or 1981….mabye.
I was a little girl (of 4 or 5 years old), she came to our church (Prayer Garden Church Of God In Christ located in San Jose, California). She was sitting two or three rows ahead of my mom and me in the sanctuary. She was visiting our church because we were having our annual music workshop.
Normally, a group of famous gospel singers and musicians would come and teach classes on subjects relative to music, like theory and vocal training. A host of people from all over The United States would participate in the workshop. Everyone would be divided into separate choirs of children, teens, and adults, and would learn new songs taught by the gifted gospel celebrities in order to sing them during a series of concert nights.
Later on, my mother told me this workshop was conducted by Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, the mother of The Clark Sisters. She was the International Minister of Music of The Churches Of God In Christ. So, this event was a BIG deal! I could not wait to go back to the chapel where I, along with all of the other children would have fun learning our new songs!!!
Now, I believe that a couple of the other Clark Sisters (Twinkie’s sisters) came to our church as well. Unfortunately, I am unable to recollect which ones and how many there were. I do remember them bringing a very special person with them. I only knew her name to be: SISTER IRIS. Oh my goodness!!! I loved Sister Iris!
I am so emotional as I write this. She was the one who taught me, along with the other children new songs to sing for our designated concert night. She was incredible. She was so loving and caring. She was a wonderful song teacher and a great singer too. She even had me, alongside three other girls to sing a special part in one of the songs she taught us.
I loved every last one of those songs she taught us!!! You know, I still remember a few of them to this day. They pop into my mind every now and then. I will always remember Sister Iris. I am so thankful to The Clark Sisters for bringing her with them.
Anyway, back to Twinkie Clark. As I was saying, I was sitting with my mom, awaiting my dismissal to go to my class when I saw her. I could not believe that Twinkie Clark was sitting so close to us at the church. I was just so in awe of her. My mom said, “Well, why don't I just go down there and introduce you to her.” I shook my head NO! In my mind, I just couldn't meet her. Afterall, my mother didn’t know her. So, how was she going to introduce me to Twinkie Clark?! Her music was such an inspiration to my life. I just couldn't meet her.
Imagine, little me; little Joshland shaking the hand of THE amazing, incomparable TWINKIE CLARK!! My mind was frantic. I was thinking about how I was always listening to her singing on the 8-track player while riding in the backseat of my grandmother's Chrysler LeBaron. I would be back there just enjoying every note she sang and played on that album. I would sing along with her too.
Therefore, I thought that I could not meet her. I was just so in awe of her. What would I say. What could I say? So, I decided not to meet her that day. Like I said. I was only about 4 or 5 years old. I am now 41 years of age at the time of this writing. But back then, that was my reasoning. She was so amazing, and I loved all 6 songs on this album. She wrote all of the songs; she sang all of the songs; she played the keyboards, the synthesizer, and the organ on all of the songs; she mixed all of the songs; and she produced all of the songs. She still means so much to me as a recording artist, songwriter, musician, recording engineer, producer, and arranger. She is a queen! She is a genius! She is an icon!
She is AMAZING! And I envision myself meeting her at the right place and at the right time. So, without further ado, here it is! Listen to Praise Belongs To God by Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/4e0pz5p0leqwq8xnb0ccf6fwx/playlist/6lDkxnmKXDX2HMnUlxfBHh?si=BQ43o7H8Rq6KDgle0WEiLQ
The Rance Allen Group is my absolute favorite singing group of all time! My parents were long time fans of theirs before I was born. In fact, my mom told me she would dance to their music when I was in her womb.
My parents would tell me stories of when they would go to Tower Records (a defunct yet fantastic music store that was popular when I was growing up; click here to read more about it: https://flashbak.com/the-rise-and-fall-of-tower-records-385647/) to pick up the latest album by The Rance Allen Group. They would always find it in the R&B section of the store, instead of the Gospel section.
If you don't know anything about these 3 singing brothers, you can check out their Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rance_Allen_Group, as well as their official website: http://theranceallengroup.com/ to find out a little more about the group. They have an immeasurable catalog of some of the most marvelous, wonderful, sensational music I have ever heard in my life.
Anyway, The Rance Allen Group created their own sound. I have always admired them for being more than a Contemporary Gospel group. In my opinion, they were pioneers who blended many genres of music together---and they didn't just talk about loving Jesus (which is the greatest thing you could ever talk about). But they always talked about life in addition to loving Jesus. That was unheard of back then and is still frowned upon by Christians. As we all know, life happens, even to Christians. Some things are good; some things are bad; sometimes we have money; sometimes we don't have any money; sometimes we have friends; other times our friendships go wrong. That's life..... and The Rance Allen Group was fearless in talking about it. This brings me to my favorite album of all time by my favorite group of all time. That album is called "I Feel Like Going On" by The Rance Allen Group. This album has everything I want and everything I need on it. It was released in 1980 and it still sounds as good as it every did! This album encompasses a variety of subject matters--and all I can say is I love it!!!! I have developed my own fearless writing style because of this album and because of this phenomenal singing group.
So, Now, here it is! I present to you the entire album, "I Feel Like Going On" by The Rance Allen Group: Click the link below and ENJOY!!!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAxhCmhMzek