Music For A Global Pandemic…. Paul Engle, Director, Brockton Public Library

In case you were wondering if librarians have a sense of humor, I present to you the following: I was attending a library conference in Louisville a few years back. During a lunch break I was standing outside with a group of fellow librarians. I noticed that across the street from us there were two buildings facing one another – a church, and a strip club. I turned to the group and said something like “ain’t that the way of the world, repent – sin, repent – sin.” A fellow librarian looked at me funny and replied, “you’ve got it all wrong; you’re thinking like a librarian and alphabetizing, its sin – repent, sin – repent.”
Well there you have it; we don’t have a sense of humor.
Last week we looked at a list of essential country blues recordings. This week I would like to present to a list of essential gospel recordings. Like the blues, gospel music is a cornerstone of American music. Think of all the artists that you know who came up through the church, the list you’ll come up with transcends all perceived musical styles, as well as racial, ethnic, class, and gender categories. Alright now, let’s get our minds off the pandemic, let’s get to church.
Track 1, The Standard Quartet “Keep Movin’”: perhaps the earliest recorded example of the African-American gospel quartet tradition, recorded in 1894.
Track 17, Reverend R.C. Crenshaw “I wonder Will We Ever Meet Again”: this preacher’s style pre-dates the hard gospel style that eventually gave rise to the early R&B and soul styles of the 1950’s and 1960”s. Listen to the almost improvised non-specific harmonies of the congregation.
Track 17, Elder I.D. Beck “Sermon and Lining Hymn”: this white preacher’s style shows striking similarities to the African-American preaching style as well as the hymn style of the congregation.
4) Southern Journey Vol. 4: Brethren, We Meet Again Riddle
Track 17, Almeda Riddle “I am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger”: demonstrates a stunning example of solo gospel singing from this great Ozark Mountain ballad singer; track 1, the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers “Sardinia”: is a lively example of the southern shape note style of choral singing, note the strong country flavor.
Track 5, the Middle Georgia Singing Convention “This Song of Love”: this example of early African-American Jubilee style quartet singing displays a non-syncopated rhythmic concept not unlike the shape note singing.
The first five selections of this collection show the instrumental and vocal prowess of this highly influential African-American gospel singer-guitarist.


Your Buzz Around is excited to offer this exclusive weekly column with Paul Engle, Director of Brockton Public Library.Prior to Brockton, Paul was the Director of Library Services at Berklee College of Music. An accomplished professional musician as well as librarian, Paul brings to the Brockton Area a unique view on library services; he is “passionate about diverse cultures sharing ideas, free and open access to information, libraries as a space for sharing artistic, scientific and cultural ideas, and promoting life-long learning skills.” 
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