Great God AMighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds: Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music

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In fact, Ballen took the young Ira Tucker under his wing and taught him studio and production techniques that would serve Tucker well as the Dixie Hummingbirds moved ahead into the post-war span of their career. Robey was an enigmatic figure in midth Century American pop music.

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It was Robey, with his insistence on using drums and electric instrumentation, who ultimately brought the soul sound out in gospel performances by the Dixie Hummingbirds and many other groups on the Peacock roster. The brief period from the end of the war through the early s was a golden age for gospel and an experimental time for the Dixie Hummingbirds as they struggled to solidify their sound and establish their place in the gospel pantheon.

The trend was also shifting from old-time a cappella spiritual standards to original compositions and performances propelled by the beat of drums and the spark of electric guitars and bass. The Birds were in the thick of it and engaged on every front. The tracks collected herein are a sampling culled from a period between their initial Decca sessions and their earliest Peacock sides in , a thirteen-year slice that richly illustrates the evolving sound of the Dixie Hummingbirds during this vital phase in their career.

Though the Decca sides were moderately successful, the Birds would not record again until , and then with a reconstituted line-up — Davis, Tucker, Thompson, and Bobo — and on a fledgling regional label that had nowhere near the reach of the prestigious Decca operation.

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  • The Birds released one record on their own and another with Sister Ernestine Washington, a leading gospel diva of the day. The group was shopping for a label with the kind of reputation and distribution that could move them up just a little bit higher.

    Great God A'Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds

    They would indeed be on their way as over the next three years they released eighteen sides on Apollo, seven of those a cappella masterpieces collected here. The last Apollo releases on the Hummingbirds would come in January of By July, the group would release the first of fourteen solo sides and six more in collaboration with the Angelic Gospel Singers on the Gotham label, the principle imprint of Ballen Records in Philadelphia. They would make their first recordings with instrumental accompaniment, and Tucker would begin to step out from behind the mike and develop his skills as both a producer and arranger.

    As to the latter, the Birds had toured extensively with Sister Rosetta, and Ira Tucker had learned a lot from her.

    The artistic measure of the Birds on Gotham, both on their own and in collaboration with the Angelics, was attested to by an invitation to record from a label with major distribution. Tempted by the prospect of a major label boost to their career, the Dixie Hummingbirds signed on for two releases, one on their own and a second with the Angelics. The formula remained the same as with Gotham, although state-of-the-art studios gave the performances a fuller ethereal quality.

    Great God A'Mighty! the Dixie Hummingbirds: Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music

    Owens proved to be an excellent foil to Tucker, and their dual leads would help position the Hummingbirds for the label shift that would lastingly propel the group into the gospel big time. Though Okeh Records had national distribution, the label seemed to put the bulk of its considerable support behind a growing secular catalog.

    Dixie Hummingbirds - Christian Automobile

    The Birds found themselves signed to a powerhouse label, but going nowhere. Gordon, host of a Cleveland gospel radio show and himself a Peacock recording artist.


    The Dixie Hummingbirds entered the relationship with Robey, infamous for his rough handling of artists who dared challenge his royalty counts, with their eyes opened. To fill the vacated space and also to better compete in a gospel market increasingly reliant on instrumental back-ups, the Dixie Hummingbirds would add Philadelphia guitarist and founding member of the Sensational Nightingales, Howard Carroll.

    With Owens gone, Tucker rushed to record the track, hoping to beat Owens and the Swan Silvertones to the punch. Sure enough, the Silvertones released their version on the Specialty label in the summer of , but the Dixie Hummingbirds beat them by a few weeks, and the song would become forevermore identified with the Birds. The founding of the Dixie Hummingbirds in is celebrated on this date.

    They are an African American Gospel singing group. The Dixie Hummingbirds formed in the late s in Greenville, S.

    The Dixie Hummingbirds |

    In the beginning, they were young boys, members of the Church of God Holiness choir in Greenville's Meadow Bottoms neighborhood. The original quartet included Bonnie Gipson, Jr. Matterson bass. First called the Junior Boys they were immersed in the Black American spiritual tradition of the times. When they started high school, they changed their name to the Sterling High School Quartet.

    They took their first step toward a professional career after graduating at the annual national convention of the Church of God Holiness in Atlanta, and decided to take off from there.

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    The new members were tenor Wilson Baker and bass singer Jimmy Bryant. The Hummingbirds' popularity began to grow as their harmonies became more sophisticated. Their virtuosity did not go unnoticed by audiences, and throughout the mids the group regularly played to packed houses throughout the south. The group's personnel had again changed with Davis as the only original to remain. In , The Hummingbirds began recording for Peacock Records.