Inspired by BBC4′s forthcoming documentary on Sister Rosetta Tharpe (scheduled for January 14th), our first top 7 foray of 2011 focuses on some of the religious delights lurking in Proper’s vaults. Testify!
That old time religion, courtesy of Proper:
1. Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-73). A veritable God-fearing powerhouse – Little Rosetta Nubin was the original girl with an electric guitar to many folks (although Memphis Minnie preceded her) . When she starts to shout about riding on “This Train”, you’d better stand well back from the platform edge….
2. Elder Charles Beck (1900ish-1970ish) – If there’s been a more incendiary piece of gospel recorded than “Rock & Roll Sermon Pts 1 & 2″ then bring it on. A simply incredible piece of work denouncing the evils of devil’s music. His band should have been called the Rolling Brimstones…Often recording with Elder Curry, Elder Beck died while undertaking missionary work in Africa.
3. Reverend Gary Davis (1896-1972) An ordained Baptist Minister who lost what little sight he had at any early age, GD was known for both his religious and secular recordings and a dextrous guitar style. NB: He never appeared in the afternoon slot on Radio One.
4. Sister Ernestine Washington (1912-83) Sister Ernestine established The Washington Temple in Brooklyn with her preacher husband, Frederick. Backed at various times by the Dixie Hummingbirds and Bunk Johnson’s Jazz Band, she teamed up with the latter for a fine rendition of “Where Could I Go But To The Lord” – a track later performed by Elvis Presley on his 1968 “comeback” show.
5. Reverend KM Williams (1956-present). Bringing the story up to date, this Texas-born, self-styled “country blues preacher” released his album “When I Rise” in 2010. With elements of Bo Diddley, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, the former submariner has recorded prolifically, both under his own name and as “Trainreck”, with a washboard player. But not Derek Guyler.
6. Jeanine Deckers aka Sister Luc-Gabrielle aka “Soeur Sourire” (“Sister Smile”) aka The Singing Nun (1933- 85). Living in a Dominican order at the Fichermont Convent near Waterloo in her native Belgium, the Singing Nun enjoyed massive success with “Dominique” in 1963 and 1964. However her life was to have a tragic end, with numerous problems culminating in her committing suicide.
7. Elder Roma Wilson (1910-present) Hailing from Mississippi Roma made a clutch of recordings in 1948, with distinctive harmonica backing from three of his sons. However it wasn’t until the 1990s that his name became widely known and he returned to the studio to cut a Grammy-nominated album. Elder Roma celebrated his 100th birthday in December 2010. God bless ‘im.