Friday, June 27, 2008

The Soul Stirrers: Stirring Up Old Memories

Visit The Soul Stirrers MySpace Page to hear
tracks from the upcoming release entitled "A Soul Stirring
Reunion," and to look at all the pictures, old and new, of this legendary Gospel group.
Say the name ‘Soul Stirrers’, not just in gospel circles, but in the wide world of R&B and Rock and there is instant recognition. The Soul Stirrers, as pioneers, trendsetters and trailblazers, have inspired and brought joy to church congregations, concert hall audiences and festival-goers for a remarkable eight decades. Former Soul Stirrers renowned vocal giants include Rebert H. Harris, Sam Cooke, J. J. Farley, and Johnnie Taylor.

At times during their rich history, the Soul Stirrers featured vocalists Paul Foster, Martin Jacox and Julius Cheeks. Honored in 1989 by the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame as one of ‘Rock’s Early Influences’, the Soul Stirrers are justifiably remembered as one of gospel music’s premier vocal quartets. The good news for their many longtime admirers and fans is that the Soul Stirrers are back with a brand new album.

Appropriately titled, ‘A Soul Stirring Reunion’, the Malaco Records project focuses on many of the great classics that have kept The Soul Stirrers at the forefront of traditional gospel since their 1926 formation by Silas Roy Crain. The line-up for ‘A Soul Stirring Reunion’ consists of longtime member LeRoy Crume who first joined the Stirrers in 1955, brother Arthur who began playing guitar with the group in 1965, Eddie Huffman, a Soul Stirrer off and on since 1973, Willie Rogers, a member at different times since 1965, and Rev. Luther Gamble, who first joined the group in 1974. This superb quartet is continuing the group’s legacy with an album that brings new life to such time-honored songs as “Be With Me Jesus,” “Nearer To Thee,” “Wade In The Water” and “Lord Remember Me,” all staples in the Soul Stirrers’ vast repertoire.

LeRoy Crume, whose individual credits include work with Aretha Franklin and The Staple Singers, recalls that the group was approached in late 2007 by Malaco Records, long a bastion for traditional and contemporary gospel music. “The group had been doing performances here and there, somewhat sparingly but we always stayed in touch,” says Crume. “I’d been away from the music business for a while so at first, I was a little cool towards the idea but once I got together with the other guys in the group and we met with Malaco, the juices started flowing again.”

The famous Soul Stirrers harmonies that set the trend for so many others in the gospel world are on full display on rousing new upbeat original tracks “Going To A Meeting”, and “I’m Still Here”, both written by project producer and guest vocalist, Darrell Luster of the Sensational Nightingales. A true jewel is the wonderful, heartfelt rendition by Rev. Luther Gamble of the memorable, “Peace Be Still.” Another much-loved Soul Stirrers perennial, “The Love Of God” is a standout, featuring the lead vocals of special guest Floyd Taylor, son of the late Johnnie Taylor, a member of The Soul Stirrers from 1957 until 1961. Johnnie Taylor was featured on the original of “When The Gates Swing Open,” revived on this new album with a blues-tinged rendition by Eddie Huffman.

Says Crume, “I think the people who’ve been listening to us for many years will receive the album with open arms because these are new arrangements of many of the songs they know. When you do a reunion like this, you want to do your old material. But I think it will also be new to a lot of people who have heard of us but haven’t heard us yet.” Of prime importance to those who’ve been moved by the music of The Soul Stirrers for generations, Crume says, “We’ve kept our identity. We’re from the old school and some of the flavor that was there when Sam Cooke was with us is still there.”

Malaco Records executive D.A. Johnson notes that ‘A Soul Stirring Reunion’ follows a similar project the label did with The Caravans. “As a company known for working with the legends in gospel music, we felt it was important not just for traditional gospel but for music in general to have a new recording by The Soul Stirrers,” says Johnson. “There’s no bigger name in the quartet genre than The Soul Stirrers.”

Indeed, The Soul Stirrers have been bringing their message of deliverance, celebration and rejoicing to audiences since the group was formed in 1926 as a successor to The Mount Pleasant Green Singers in Trinity, Texas led by Silas Roy Crain. In 1936, the group, with lead singer Rebert .H. “Pop” Harris, moved to Chicago where they became one of the very first gospel groups to travel and charge admission for their performances. Legend has it that one week the group only earned $3.65 at a church, but when word soon spread about The Soul Stirrers’ commanding vocal style and incomparable harmonies, their earnings quickly increased. During the ‘40s, the group became known, in particular, for having two lead singers within its ranks. Notes Crume, “The Soul Stirrers were the first ones to do that and that’s partly why the group was thought of as pioneers. During the early days when the group performed at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, you would find performers like Little Richard and Ray Charles in the audience, getting vocal tips from us.”

The arrival of Sam Cooke in 1951, replacing R.H. Harris who was featured on the group’s very first recordings for Specialty Records, dramatically changed the appeal of The Soul Stirrers. With his dashing good looks, Cooke quickly became gospel music’s first heart throb, stepping out on an immediate and huge hit for the group, “Jesus Gave Me Water.” This would be the first of many classic songs Sam Cooke would deliver that helped create a lasting repertoire for The Soul Stirrers.

After Cooke left in 1957 to pursue a secular career, he was replaced by an energetic youngster who stepped right into his shoes, former Highway QC’s vocalist and soon-to-be star in his own right, Johnnie Taylor. After five successful years fronting the group, Taylor, like his predecessor Cooke, would leave in 1961 to seek fame and fortune in the burgeoning Rhythm & Blues music arena.

Although the group recorded sporadically after Johnnie Taylor’s departure, their live performances continued to thrill audiences in the U.S. and throughout Europe, where they became regular annual visitors for many years The dynamic Gospel group was featured on secular events such as The Sacramento Blues Festival, and have received honorary citizenship citations in Washington, DC, Baltimore and Gary, Indiana.

Since the 1983 “Divine Love” release for Malaco, the Soul Stirrers have recorded several albums and created two DVDs of their dynamic live performances. Now, with the release of ‘A Soul Stirring Reunion’, Crume comments, “We feel great. The Soul Stirrers still have that flavor from way back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, so in some ways, the album is ‘back to basics.’ It definitely feels like it’s a whole new ballgame for us.”

With such highlights as “Oh What A Meeting,” “Restin’ Easy” and two songs originally arranged by Sam Cooke, “Stand By Me Father” and “The Last Mile of The Way,” ‘A Soul Stirring Reunion’ is far more than its title may imply. It is another milestone in a career that has truly helped shape both traditional and contemporary Gospel as well as Rock & Roll for decades. It is a timely reminder of The Soul Stirrers’ stature in the genre, a welcome return for longtime fans, and a wonderful introduction of the timeless group to a whole new generation.

The Soul Stirrers Reunion CD project is creating quite a buzz. Fans from across the globe are looking forward to the upcoming release by the legendary Gospel group. This is quite an event for the surviving members of the group, too - and it's been a long time coming.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ira Tucker Of The Dixie Hummingbirds Passes Away

The Dixie Hummingbirds in the 1970s from the website of Jerry Jazz Musician

The Malaco Music Group regrets to inform you that Gospel Quartet legend, Ira Tucker of the world famous Dixie Hummingbirds passed away June 23, 2008 at approximately 1 p.m.

Ira Tucker & The Dixie Hummingbirds recorded 6 albums including a "Best Of …" for Atlanta International Records, a subsidiary of The Malaco Music Group.

Mr. Tucker also appears on one of the covers with Kirk Franklin as well as performed on the widely successful direct marketing campaign infomercial, 3 cd, & 3 dvd set entitled, Gospel Legends.

I, personally, was honored to have met and interviewed Mr. Tucker during the taping for the Gospel Legends series. The wealth of knowledge I gained as he shared his experiences and the sacrifices people like himself made in order for all us to do what we do today in the Gospel industry just sent chills up my spine. He will be greatly missed.

We've lost another legend!!!

To listen to clips of this Gospel Legend, visit

D.A. Johnson
Executive Director of Gospel
Malaco Music Group

Great God A' Mighty - The Dixie Hummingbirds: Celebrating the Rise of Gospel Music

Written by Jerry Zolten, this book is a great resource for discovering more about The Dixie Hummingbirds' story.


Ira Tucker's funeral will be held on Wednesday July 2, 2008 at The Met, 858 N. Broad St. Philadelphia, PA 19130. Corner Broad & Poplar (Renamed Dixie Hummingbird Way).

The viewing will be conducted from 9:00 AM-11:00 AM. The funeral will immediately follow.

The funeral arrangements are being handled by Yarborough Rocke Funeral Home, 1001 N. 63rd St. Philadelphia, PA 19151. Phone: (215)-473-5100

Please send cards and flowers to the funeral home.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dooney "Da Priest" Performing at Gospel Explosion

Dooney "Da Priest" is creating waves across the state of Texas - and before too long he will make his mark throughout major cities nationwide. His hit song "Pull Your Pants Up" is sweeping secular and religious communities alike. It is instilling a sense of pride in young adults.

Dooney "Da Priest's" is taking part in GOSPEL EXPLOSION, Friday, July 11 at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center in Killeen, Texas. Gospel Explosion is an outreach concert to minister to youth and young adults. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The Gospel Explosion commercial airing on all major stations in Killeen and you can listen to it here.

Gospel Explosion - Dooney Da Priest

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dooney “Da Priest”: Pull Your Pants Up!

The Malaco Music Group is proud to announce the signing of Dooney “Da Priest” to the Malaco family of artists.

From stadiums to national television shows such as Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions' Dr. Phil Show, Dooney “Da Priest” has been the Champion for the “Pull Your Pants Up!” initiatives across the nation.

Heralded from the lone star state of Texas, city of Dallas, Dooney “Da Priest” tackles social issues, but undoubtedly committed to ministry by planting the seeds of the unadulterated Gospel into the minds and hearts of the youth and the unconverted through beats from the streets.

“Pull Your Pants Up!” is the debut album from Dooney “Da Priest” to be released on Malaco Records. It features 12 hard hitting, spirit-filled tracks. The catch phrase “Pull Your Pants Up!” has been the rallying cry, billboard campaign and now theme song for the city of Dallas. Initiated by Deputy Mayor Pro Tem, Dwaine R. Caraway, he began petitioning for an ordinance to be passed banning the fashion trend of “Saggin' Pants” in urban and rural communities because of the increasing number of individuals wearing their pants way below their waist lines exposing their under garments. It was Mayor Caraway’s position that this fashion trend not only contributed to the moral decay, lack of self respect and respect for others, but was also associated with gangs, drugs and violence.

“Pull Your Pants Up!” single is also being supported in the religious community, receiving airplay on the Gospel station KHVN in Dallas run by Program Director Antonio Johnson. Dallas is not the only city that has taken the stance of “Pull Your Pants Up!.” In Jackson, MS, the home of The Malaco Music Group world headquarters, City Councilman Kenneth I. Stokes has initiated his campaign for an ordinance of the same to be passed.

Dooney “Da Priest” has been featured on Good Morning Texas, Source Magazine,, National Public Radio (NPR) and abroad on the BBC media. He has toured on the Christian “Acquire The Fire” tour with T.D. Jakes, Kirk Franklin, Cross Movement, Unhindered and Rockafirme.

“Pull Your Pants Up!” is not just a movement devised to transform the outer appearance of man, but a movement devised to transform the inner workings of minds.

What is your stance? Malaco would like to know. Contact us at

“Pull Your Pants Up!” will be in stores on July 15, 2008. Also Available on iTunes &

~D.A. Johnson
Executive Director of the Gospel Division

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Today In Gospel News -

Bob Marovich, who is the writer for The Black Gospel Blog, gave The Barnes Family an approving nod when he wrote about the newly released The Barnes Family Reunion II album.

Click here to see what he has to say.

Currently in the works

Malaco has a full house right now and several projects underway:

Soul songstress, Shirley Brown, arrived in Jackson yesterday and is in the studio continuing work on her album. As you may remember, she was here in December working on the project with Vick Allen. Vick is back in the studio with Shirley.

Below is an interview with Shirley and Music Notes:

"Honey, you sound like kinfolk."That's Shirley Brown, her full, twangy voice so warm and familiar. I'm thinking the same thing about the soul-blues star. Both of us have roots in Arkansas: She was born in West Memphis; I made my grand debut in Hot Springs. Memories of her sassy, open-hearted music go way back for me. So - in a musical sense, I guess - she feels like family. But after more than 30 years of touring and making solid records, Shirley Brown remains an overlooked gem. Perhaps best known for her 1974 trend-setting No. 1 hit "Woman to Woman," she has long been a favorite on the Southern blues circuit. She's one of the headliners of the Second Annual Capitol Blues Festival, which stops at Washington's Constitution Hall tomorrow night."People are just getting back to that feel music," says Brown, 61. "I have youngsters that love my music. I never really sang the gutbucket blues - just soul or what we used to call R&B. But it's real. Ain't nothing fake or phony about the music I do."And that has made her a favorite of a celebrated artist who forever keeps it real: the former ghetto-fabulous Mary J. Blige.

written by Rashod D. Ollison
March 27, 2008

We've also got Chuck Strong in the house who is working on his new album. The album was originally produced by Rich Cason - one of Rich's last projects with Malaco before he passed away in March 2007. Chuck came back to fine-tune some vocal tracks and is next in line to be mixed.

Right now, there are so many projects in the works, head engineers, Wolf and Kent have set up two working studios in one, with a computer recording station on the studio floor for vocal tracks.

Artie "Blues Boy" White came by within the past couple of weeks to put the finishing touches on some vocal tracks that has been in the works since the fall.

September 2007: (L to R) David Hood, James Robinson, Clayton Ivy, Wolf Stephenson, Big Mike Griffin, Artie, Jimmy Johnson and Tommy Couch, Jr.

We are excited about these upcoming albums. Stay tuned for release dates!