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Friday, December 25, 2015

An Unction from the Holy One

The Christmas for Christ (or also known as Sheaves for Christ) is a sixty plus year annual tradition in the United Pentecostal Church.  Since its inception in 1952, over $112.5 million has been raised to fund missions and ministries around the world.  Money is raised for the sole purpose of their mission statement:  the whole Gospel to the whole world by the whole church.

Money raised is allocated to Global Missions. Sheaves for Christ also supports Apostolic Youth Corps, Bible Quizzing, The Tupelo Children’s Mansion (which also has their own music releases to raise money), and North American Youth Congress.  

I am uncertain how many records have been released to help raise money.  I've come across three of them personally.

This one may be my favorite of all.  It comes from 1973 and among the talent featured here is Murrell Ewing, Bobbie Shoemake, and Wanda Phillips.  All involved here are incredible talents in music for the United Pentecostal Church.  Their talents are used here as a great blessing to whomever listens.  Perhaps my favorite track is "I See a Crimson Stream."  Murrell Ewing's singing on this song is among his best.  Also, it should be noted that the tracks on this album are not available elsewhere, at least not on Murrell's solo albums.

This may also be my favorite due to the packaging.  I love the comic book type tract inside the gatefold cover.  The information on the album sleeve is also a great piece of historical information as well.  Please take a moment to look at each picture in their full resolution to appreciate the album art.

I truly hope this album is a blessing to you and yours as it was to me.

Download HERE.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Knieriem Sisters-I've Never Loved Him Better Than Today

If somebody asked me for an example of "the Pentecostal sound," there are a few musicians I would point to.  Nathaniel and Jean Urshan with certainty.  Vesta Mangun for sure.  On the more obscure end of the spectrum, I would point out this record by the incomparable Knieriem Sisters.

Sometimes the music I discover for this blog is by chance.  If I find a store selling one record I want I look through their inventory for something new to me.  After all, if the store has one Pentecostal record, they may have more I never heard about.  

I found this record like that.  The store had one I searched for a long time.  I decided to look at what else they had.  I found this and knew nothing about it, other than it was on the Lefevre Sound label, the girls on the cover look Pentecostal-ish, and the song titles talk about being "born again" and "filled."  The Lefevre Sound label has featured a number of Pentecostal artists and this had that kind of vibe to me.

If anything, I would have a nice quirky album that was off the beaten path.

My instincts did not disappoint.  Upon further research, Bishop Irvin Knieriem was the founding pastor of The Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic, a Pentecostal church out of Somerset, Pennsylvania.   

Irvin and his wife, Doris Ann, had four children: Janice (Knieriem) Folmer, Meridian, Idaho; Elaine (Knieriem) Kitchens, Wendell Knieriem, and Denise (Knieriem) Neal, all of Somerset and Douglas Knieriem, Dover, Del.  As far as I know, only Janice and Elaine entered into the business of recording a record album.  Yet, I could be wrong.  As often the history of Pentecostal music is, the records of such recordings are hit and miss.  I will continue to look for more recordings by them or other members of their family.

The most recent reference I could find to the family online was this sad obituary:  Douglas, brother of Janice and Elaine, lost his son, Justin, in 2008.  According to his obituary, "He had a great musical talent, and loved playing in the church band with the rest of his family. Over the years, he put together several audio track mixes and hoped to some day become a professional recording artist." It is a shame he was unable to continue the music ministry started by his aunts. Yet, he is survived by his wife and children. There is also reference his entire family performed music at the church. I hope that his family finds a way to release his recordings. Perhaps in the future his children will go on to record records as well, if the Lord tarries. For certain, we will enjoy their music in Heaven.

So the family had ties with the Pentecostals of Delaware and the Kent Christian Church. If you recall, the Kent Christian Church had involvement with music from the Tupelo Children's Mansion. I love to find connections like this.

As far as this music goes, this is fun Southern Gospel. Most of the record is up beat and positive. What started out as a purchase on a whim certainly turned out to be something more, and opened my understanding to Pentecostal music even more. 

Download HERE

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Fred Hyde-Thanks to Calvary

There are some Pentecostal musicians who make a joyful noise.  Some who just make noise.  And some who make what I just call "joyful."  This is not "noise" by any stretch of the imagination.  The orchestration on this record is lush and meditative.  Yet the spirit of the man singing the songs exhibits a great and abundant joy from deep down in his heart.  To me, this music comes from a pure heart.  This music is a reflection of a man after God's own heart.
Most of the songs here are cover versions.  There is only one penned by Fred himself.  (I also note that there is a song written by Ruth Munsey.  Needless to say, I will have more on Ruth in the future of this blog.)  Yet, while these songs are cover versions, it does not take away from the feeling they all come from Fred's heart as if they were his own.  
Rev. Fred Hyde may not be on the tips of many tongues when talking about Pentecostal music.  His name is not well known as Lanny Wolfe, Vesta Mangun, Steve Richardson, Dan Dean, and others.  His music has not burst forth into the whole of contemporary Christian music.  Yet it is also not among the most obscure stuff out there.  There are a few out there who have remembered him and his music ministry.  
The beautiful aspect to this music is that it is testimony music. There is a lot of praise and worship music out there.  More that seeks to just entertain.  This is music that is from a redeemed heart thankful to a Savior who lifted a soul from the depths of Hell.  
Frederick Kimmons Hyde, also known as "Brother Hyde," was born on August 16, 1922 in Tulsa, OK To Jasper and Vessie Hyde.  He was a service man from 1943-1946.  His life was forever changed when Jesus found this lost lamb on September 19th, 1958 in New Orleans, LA.  He received the Holy Ghost and water baptism that day in Jesus' name. 
He taught Junior Boys Sunday School Class for two years in that church.  In 1960, he hand his wife, Betty Jo, moved to Slidell, LA, where he planted a church.  He pastored there until 1970.  
From 1970-1978 he was a missionary in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and other areas of Asia.  People called him the "Singing Missionary."
When he returned to the United States in 1978, he founded the Spirit of Freedom Ministires.  A tape of his testimony, accompanied by his guitar, was one of his first recordings.  His music background comes from his home life.  He was one of eleven children.  They performed as "The Singing Hydes."  Fred played guitar, played and sang at schools, armature  concerts, and also on radio and T.V.  
Yet during this time he was not saved.  After a period of time, he came to the depths of his alcoholism.   When he received the Holy Ghost in 1958, his life changed forever.  This music on this record comes from a heart that never forgot where Jesus took him from.  He never removed the ancient landmarks.  The cover features pictures of him in front of places he used to go.  Now he is at the throne of God, worshiping for all eternity, his voice joining the angels in praise.
His ministry continues their work to this day, reaching out to those struggling with alcohol and drugs.  
As far as the year of this record, I am not sure.  I would have to place it after 1978, the time he founded his music ministry in the United States.  Yet, the album notes Fred Hyde met Piding Alava in 1973, so the record could have been made any time after that.  Regardless when it came out, this is a treasure of a record.  This is music that flows from a genuine heart.  This is among my favorite music.

You can download HERE.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Harvestime Chorale-Some Beautiful Day

I discussed how the United Pentecostal Church shared heritage with the Assemblies of God.  The Assemblies of God had a radio show called "Revialtime."  It aired from 1953 to 1994.  In 1962, the first Harvestime broadcast from the General Conference in Dallas, Texas.  William Coffey Parkey, or W.C. Parkey, hosted.
I do not know if the creation of Harvestime came when the split took place or if both shows were on the air at the same time.  The United Pentecostal Church and the Assemblies of God have intertwining histories.  Both date back to the original Azuza Street outpouring in 1906.  It is difficult for me to pin point a single period where a split took place.  At best, it seems it was a series of events and doctrinal differences that caused them to drift apart.  It is harder to nail it down as far as the history of the two radio shows.   Were they were sister shows or in direct competition with each other?  What I know from my digging for Pentecostal auditory treasures, Revialtime records are plentiful.  It seemed they were quite popular.  Their records apparently had large print runs.  They are easy to find.
Harvestime records are a bit more rare.  Was Revivaltime to Harvestime what was Blockbuster to Hollywood Video?  Or Best Buy to Circuit City?  Or the Snuggie to the Slanket?  Inquiring minds want to know, but I suspect the answer is yes.  Maybe not in design, but it appears so through the lens of history.
But that is not to decry the quality of the Harvestime recordings.  I love the records I have from their ministry.  Maybe they were not quite as big as Revivaltime.  It does not matter.  Their music is wonderful, and is evident on this recording.
Best estimate this record is from 1983.  The best thing I have to date this record is the kick off track:  "Some Beautiful Day" written by Shawn Craig (of Phillips, Craig, and Dean fame.)  Online credits show 1983 as the song's copyright year.  I wonder chorale members Larry and Annette Craig were related to Shawn?  I  don't know.  Could be chance, maybe not!
This record also features the talents of Nancy Grandquist.  She is one of the bigger names in Pentecostal music. Her name and music comes up from time to time in discussions online about the 70's era of Jesus Music.  Kelly Marsden is also another I know has records as a solo artist.  More to come on both, keep tuned in on this blog.
Download HERE!


Friday, November 27, 2015

Billie Smith Writes and Sings Songs for NOW!

This album is a shining example of why I chose to run this blog.  Christian music comes and goes. The industry that controls the releases often forgets the past.  Denominational music is even worse.  There are private press releases.  Releases only issued for a fund raiser. Evangelists sell their music to pay for their ministry.  These releases are just for a season.  They serve their purpose, and they are gone.

Some of these records disappear into the cracks of music history.  Many of the records I come across are so obscure that there is no mention of them online.  If there is mention, it is usually on a "Strange/Weird/Bad Record Covers" website.  I want to help change that.

Church music, such as this example, is the backbone of American music.  Many of the modern styles of music, even secular, have their roots in spiritual and gospel songs.  That is why I want to preserve these records.   They deserve more than a fate in a discount bin at a thrift store and ridicule on bad record cover websites.

I became aware of Billie Smith from a Christmas For Christ record.  (More on Christmas For Christ in future blog posts to come!)  If it had not been for that, I am not sure I would have known about her.  I do not know I would have found her music.  That's because I do not shop for music based on what I already know and what I think I want to hear.  I shop for new music and artists I never heard of before.  When I uncover a treasure like this, it makes all the time invested in the search all the more worth while.

There is little mentioned about Billie Smith (and her husband, Dale Smith) online.  So I do not have a lot to share on the making of this record.  All I know is they were from Oklahoma City, OK.  I learned he was a pastor at The First United Pentecostal Church.  I can only assume Billie blessed that congregation with her wonderful music.  Also, the church moved to a new building and became the Revival of Faith Christian Church.  And...that is it.  It is like he and his wife's music ministry never existed as far as the Internet is concerned.

And this is wonderful music.  Aside from her contribution on the Christmas For Christ LP, I never heard her music before.  The title track bursts off the record with late 60's/early 70's pure pop goodness.   "Go Tell Somebody" has strains of the snappy and catchy pop music from the likes of Petula Clark.  If Phil Spector listened to this record, he'd love the "wall of sound" style here.  It is sublime and beautuful.

Billie penned five of the nine tracks here.  I have seen too many records of just cover songs.  I love the original compositions on this album.  She was a capable and accomplished song writer, and the evidence is in these songs.  This is chamber pop before there was a category for "chamber pop."  There is no better example of this than "Lead Me to a Soul."  Larry Benson, the producer, blends guitar, piano, and organ with perfection.  The song reaches towards the "wall of sound" style made famous by Phil Spector.   "Teach Me, Lord" in its lush pastoral textures exemplifies the style of her music.   

She chose her cover songs with care.  They blend in with her style well.

This record is not just a find, it is a keeper.  If you are reading, listening, and enjoying, please like and share this blog on Facebook and elsewhere.  Music like this is too good to keep under a bushel! 

You can download the album here.   

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tupelo Children's Mansion Part One

 Sorry it's been a while since my last post.  I promise you this blog is not ending any time soon.  In fact, if I had my way, I would ramping up the frequency of the posts!  So much great music, so little time!  But it is what it is.  To make up for lost time, I will be sharing TWO records with you today!
I am going to cheat just a tad.  First is from The Glynn Davis Trio, so it is not technically from the Tupelo Children's Mansion.  Rev. Steven Drury attended the Apostolic Bible Institute in 1969 (as reference from the ABI yearbook.)  During his time there, he contributed to the Trio.   They released the aptly titled "Pentecostal Music" during this period.  There is no year listed on the cover. Until proven otherwise, we are going with 1969, in reference to his graduation year at ABI.

From the back cover:
"The Glynn Davis Trio was formed two years ago at the Apostolic Bible Institute.  The trio is made up of Glynn Davis from Marthaville, Louisiana, his wife, Myrt, and her sister, Caron Reynolds, from Harrisburg, Illinois.

"There is a variety of songs on this album, all presented country style, for which the Glynn Davis trio is noted.  One of the songs, "I'm Not Worth What I Cost the Lord," was written by Glynn, who plays the electric guitar and mandolin.  The organ you hear on the instrumental number is played by Myrt.

"Accompanying the trio is Robert Carter from Rising Sun, Maryland, Stephen Drury from Indianapolis, Indiana, and Garvin Whatley from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"You will enjoy the deep rich sound of Steve's bass as he sets the temp on these songs.  Bob, playing rhythm guitar, provides a solid background on each of these selections.  Garvin plays a pleasant country style pinao which you will find easy to listen to.  Add all of these together and you will get the unique country sound of the Glynn Davis Trio.

"This group will be traveling together, singing, preaching, holding street services and canvassing for the kingdom of the Lord."

You can download this album HERE.

Steven (or is it Stephen?  The wise owl responds, "The world may never know!"  I've seen it spelled both ways) took his enthusiasm for music and ministry to the Tupelo Children's Mansion.  You can read about the history of the mansion on their website.  In short, it was founded in 1953 as a home and ministry for homeless children.  In 1976, Stephen Drury became the fourth superintendent of the organization.  Yet there is no mention of his music releases on their website.
This drives home the reason I run this blog.  There NEEDS to be a place to chronicle and archive these records online.  I could get into it much more, but Christian music as a whole is quick to forget about records of the past.  You're hard pressed to find these older recordings anywhere except from secondary sellers.  Yet this music is a vital part of the Mansion's history.  This music came from the heart and passion of a young man from the Apostolic Bible Institute.  God provided him an opportunity to guide others to share his vision for this ministry.
That brings me to one of the records (but not their only one, thus the "part one" title of this post) they released:  "I'm Glad I Met Him."

I love this record.  I tell you:  I LOVE IT.  It is one of my all time favorites.  (There are times I hum the tune "We're Going Up" when I hit the UP button on the elevator.  True story.)  This was the creation of Ken Workman and Doug Davis.  I know little about Ken Workman, but am eager to learn more and share more about him as this blog progresses.  I know Doug Davis the music minister at Kent Christian College in Dover, Delaware.  I will talk more about this college and Dover in future blog posts.  And also share more from that school and Doug Davis.
Together they used the voices of the Fritzenschaft sisters (Christine, Barbara, and Erika) to create a lush, beautiful, and memorable collection of songs.  I had this on cassette tape that I purchased back in the early 90's.  It took me over twenty years to track down a vinyl copy.
I do not know the year on this record.  Like most of the records shared on this blog, for some reason there is no year or copyright date listed.  I reached out to people involved in the making of this record.  I invited them to share some of their memories of making the recording and the Mansion.   They declined to respond.  My estimate is this record is 25-30 years old.   If I learn otherwise, I will update this post.
  You can download this album HERE.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Murrell Ewing-The Good Times

This is the reason I started this blog.

Murrell Ewing is one of those voices that penetrates to the core of your soul.  In the entirety of music, there are a few voices that just resonate to the beautiful losers of life.  Leonard Cohen is one such voice.  I would say Nick Cave is one.  Up there with them is Murrell Ewing.

Listeners of Murrell Ewing are not likely fans of Leonard or Nick.  The same with listeners of Leonard and Nick.  Yet all three have voices that reach up to the Heavens and are golden voices that sing to the core of your being.  All three explore the spiritual depths of humanity.

Murrell Ewing is one artist I never tire of listening to.  Back in the 90's, I came across cassette tapes of his albums.  Some were hard to find and I had to rely on copies from friends to satiate my hunger to listen to his music.  To me, his music is genuine and sincere.  Like the psalms of David,  Murrell's songs are poetry.  Many of his songs prayers to God. His music is a true ministry and not just for entertainment.

Murrell Ewing wears his heart on his sleeve when he sings these songs. His voice is raw and sometimes in an undignified way. You can hear and feel his desire for God's love and to see God's justice in the world.  His music invites the spirit and mercy of God into our hearts and invokes in the listener a humble attitude. These songs are not empty repetitions of praise but a journal of struggles with God and the flesh with which Murrell Ewing wrestles with.  These songs are both divine and human at the same time.

And, like the voices I mentioned before, there is no one else quite like Murrell Ewing.  In United Pentecostal music, the quality of the final results can vary.  Some are earnest efforts by mildly talented musicians.  Not all are recorded on the best equipment and in the finest studios.  Not that music to the heart of God has to be perfect to move the Spirit of God.  These songs, however, flow with mastery of musicianship honed by hours of practice and prayer.  Murrell Ewing and his family (Joan, Landy, and Vonnie) have made tremendous contributions to music.  Landy would go on to help his father record several more albums and have a proficient music career of his own.  Vonnie is likewise continuing to have a strong music career as well.  Joan wrote several of these songs.  On other albums Landy joined in writing.   While performing live Joan contributed powerful spoken word pieces to Murrell's music.  I had an opportunity to hear one such song with Murrell and Joan at a conference in Milwaukee, WI several years ago.  It was by far a day I will never forget.

Rev. Murrell LaVonne Ewing was born January 9th, 1941.  In 1950, Tom Ed and Marie Ewing, his father and mother, moved with Murrell to Lake Charles, LA.  His father would become pastor of the church, leaving his job with the State Highway Department in Jonesville, LA behind.

In August 1966, T.E. Ewing suffered a stroke and Murrell came to the church as a co-pastor to help his ailing father at the Eastwood Pentecostal Church.  A full history of Murrell's service to this church can be found here:

Several years ago, I came across this album for sale online.  While I had most of his cassettes, I never found vinyl records of his recordings.  Copies of his records are hard to come by.  I have a handful on vinyl and the rest of his music I have on cassettes or CD.

Wanting to buy more records, I contacted his church in Lake Charles and spoke to a very lovely woman at reception.  She was very friendly and sent me cassettes of the albums I did not have yet.  As for the condition of the vinyl records?  I was advised that they were stored out in a shed apart from the building and the hot Louisiana summers have not treated the albums well at all.  She said they would go through them and any that were still in good condition she would gladly mail them to me.  I never received any records from them.

And this is why I do this blog.  When not even the church who put out the records care for the albums, it is sad that what exists become harder and harder to find.  It is my goal to share these great treasures of music with you not to get anything out of it.  I have spent my own time and money in acquiring the albums in this blog and ask for nothing in return but that you listen, download, and maybe leave a kind note of thanks.

As for Murrell Ewing, he passed away December 31st, 2010.  A voice such as his is a true rare gem.  There has never been one such as him nor will there be another.  I am fortunate to have lived during a time I could hear him in person.

The text on the back cover:

Heart of thanks to you for sharing with me your wildest dreams, your frequent smiles, and just enough tears to make the flowers grow.  You have taught me a little lesson called "put yourself in their place" and now I can write their story, whomever they are, which often saves me from having to live this same story myself.  My thanks to you for baring your soul that cold December night as you declared to our church, "Take me to the potter's house but not to his field."  I will never forget "The Cleft in the Rock" and because I could not forget the sermon, you now sing the song.  Thank you for your beautiful frame.  For it is not true that the frame can make even the plainest of pictures appear to be a work of art?

For the counterpart, to whatever role God's plan has offered to me in life's drama, the architect of my dreams could not have designed a better you.  In my role as husband, you've been the adorable wife; as father, you've been the loving mother; as Christian, you've been the fellow laborer; as pastor, you've been the model saint.  And now for playing your counter-role so well, I think it only fair that for one time I be your counterpart.  You be the writer--I'll try to be your singer and I promise to do my best.

Birth: Jan. 9, 1941
Catahoula Parish
Louisiana, USA
Death: Dec. 31, 2010
Beauregard Parish
Louisiana, USA

Obit in Lake Charles American Press 1-2-2011.
Photo and obit from Johnson Funeral Home. Age 69.

Murrell LaVonne Ewing departed this life from his residence in Beauregard Parish Friday morning, December 31st. He was 69 years of age. A resident of Lake Charles since 1950, Murrell Ewing has served as the Pastor of Eastwood Pentecostal Church since 1966. 

Pastor Ewing is preceded in death by his parents, Tom Ed and Marie Ewing. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Joan Clark Ewing; a son, Landy Ewing (wife, Lauren) of Kansas City, Missouri and a daughter, Vonnie Ewing Lopez (husband, Aaron) of Lake Charles. He is also survived by four grandchildren: Matthew Ewing (and wife, Natalie); Taylor Ewing Trahan (and husband, Jimmy); Aaron James "AJ" and Lindsey Lopez all of Lake Charles. The Ewing family is anxiously awaiting the birth of the first great-grandchild this month. A host of family and friends, along with the Eastwood church family, will also cherish his memory. 

Pastor Ewing, in addition to being an outstanding minister and speaker, was equally well-known for his singing. An outstanding soloist, he was also a founding member of the Conquerors Quartet - a group that traveled and sang southern quartet gospel across the south. For decades, many of his sermons were transformed to music and lyrics by his wife, Joan, and shared in services and concert venues across America and around the world. His performance of "He Saw Me" on a Bill Gaither Homecoming project continues to be one of the most popular Murrell Ewing clips viewed on YouTube. Joan and Murrell Ewing were awarded the Pentecostal Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their immeasurable contribution to Pentecostal music. 

Born in Catahoula Parish, in a community known as Boggy Bayou, Murrell Ewing entered the world on January 9, 1941. At the tender age of nine, when his parents relocated to the Lake Charles/Moss Bluff area where they assumed the pastorate of what was then known as English Bayou Pentecostal Church, Murrell Ewing became a Lake Charles resident - and for him, though he traveled the world - there was never any place quite like home. 

Murrell met the love of his life, and he and Joan Clark Ewing were married in Kinder, Louisiana on November 24, 1959. They served as choir directors in camps and held choir clinics in churches around Louisiana and across America, while he continued to become a much-sought after speaker as well. After a time as Assistant Pastor in Alexandria, Louisiana, serving with Pastor G.A. Mangun, - Murrell and Joan relocated to Lake Charles in 1966 to assist his parents in pastoring Eastwood Pentecostal Church and became Senior Pastor in 1981, where they remain in service to that congregation and this community. 

Through the years of his leadership as Pastor, the congregation has grown and flourished. In April of 1984, they relocated from their existing building on Opelousas Street to the 9.5 acre complex at the intersection Highway 171 and Interstate 10. Offering Sunday School classes, and bus transportation to the less fortunate, consistent Christian teaching and leadership have been the hallmark of Eastwood through the years. The Ewing's commitment to Lake Charles has been lived out in the lives they have touched through ministry and song. Murrell Ewing's pastor's heart was not limited to the members of his congregation, but extended to the entire Lake Charles community as reflected in his words on their church's website: "If it's winter, come in out of the cold. If the summer of life has parched your soul, you'll find a cool oasis here. The worship, the doctrine, the power to change lives. It's all still here. We've been praying that you would come." 

In addition to his local church involvement and his personal ministry in preaching and singing worldwide, Murrell Ewing was highly involved in the work of the Louisiana District of the United Pentecostal Church as well as in national capacities. He served as Louisiana District Youth President, was a member of the Louisiana District Board, and for many years served as the Youth Camp Principal at the District's youth camps in Tioga. On a national level, he served on the music committee and participated in the development of the Sing Unto The Lord hymnal. He and Joan served for many years as consultants and participants in national programming for both home and foreign missions. 

The impact this man's influence has had on both young people and adults through the brief years of his life is truly immeasurable. Murrell Ewing will be missed not only at Eastwood, but also in the city of Lake Charles. Anyone who was privileged to know him will remember some kind word or deed, and will mourn his passing. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pioneers for Christ

First off, I am quite sorry it's been so long since I last shared an album with you.  This is not intentional.  I am sorry to report after making my last post I found out my dog, my best friend for the last ten years, has lymphoma.  I will spare details of the diagnosis but his needs became a priority.

Ironically, it was lymphoma that took the life of Carroll McGruder.  So knowing now that was how he died and dealing with my dog's cancer makes this all the bit more personal for me.

My introduction to Christian music was on KJLY from Blue Earth, Minnesota.  Late night they played the most lush and beautiful music I ever heard.  The Don Wyrtzen Singers were a particular favorite of mine.

When I decided to buy Pentecostal music, I found "The Carroll McGruder Singers" in the Pentecostal Publishing House catalog.  No real description, just the title and list of songs performed.  I imagined quite and beautiful music not much different from the music I heard on KJLY.

What I received was "Come Fly With the McGruders."  It was a live performance.  It was pounding.  It was throbbing.  It was pulsing.  It was ALIVE.  It was vivacious music and drenched in the Holy Spirit.  It was unlike anything I ever heard up to that time.  And I loved it.

I came to learn that Rev. McGruder was quite a force not only in Pentecostal music, but music as a whole.  He was the driving force behind the Harvestime concert recordings.   For many decades, Rev. McGruder with his wife, Priscilla McDonald, recorded several albums together.  Their discography reaches back to 1985 with their first release Good Things Are Happening.

While Rev. McGruder was a key figure in the United Pentecostal Church, there was a time he was also a key figure in the music scene for the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ, a sister Oneness Pentecostal organization. I am not sure when and why Rev McGruder left the ALJC for the UPCI but it appears the aforementioned discography only references his UPCI work. 

I know he used to be with them because of the rare treasure I found to share with you today: Pioneers for Christ.  This was a compilation album put out by the ALJC.  I am not sure of the year, but if I were to make a safe guess, I would put this around 1969-1970 based on the look of the album.

Rev. McGruder has two tracks on this album.  Once as a solo artist, the second with his then wife, Linda Evanna Coffey.  Rev. McGruder married Sister Coffey Christmas Day 1965.  They served as pastor/wife in Windfall, Indiana.  This was a church founded by Rev. McGruder's father in 1953.  

(Sis. Coffey passed away in 1975. On June 1, 1976, he married Priscilla Elaine McDonald. She would be his partner in the McGruders on every recording they made.)

Rev. Carroll McGruder was born October 25, 1946 in Holcomb, Mo. His father was a farmer at Puxico, MO. Shortly after 1950, they moved to Michigan.  His parents, Lester and Fannie McGruder, began working in the auto industry in Detroit.

While in Detroit his parents became involved in the Pentecostal Church Assemblies of God.
"Dad became a self trained preacher which was very common back in those days," Rev. Carroll McGruder said.

"From the time that I was seven years-old until I graduated from high school, which for me would be a 10 year period, I was in Indiana," he said. "After high school, I started traveling and preaching, singing and holding revivals as an evangelist." He did this until his father resigned his church in Windfall and he took over as minister.

"Between the years of 1969 and 1975, I pastored at Windfall, Ind., at the Windfall Pentecostal Church," McGruder said, later moving to Twin Falls, Idaho where he pastored a church until his move to Kennett in 1981.

During this time Rev. McGruder and Sister Coffey participated in the Pioneers for Christ project.  I do not know if this is the earliest recording of Rev. McGruder's music, but it's the earliest I've found so far.  He pastored in Windfall, IN at the time of this recording. My estimation of the recording being around 1969-1970 seems accurate.

If Carroll had been singing and evangelizing after high school, there likely is a recording out there that predates this one.  If anybody has it and would like to share it, I would love to hear it and share it with my readers.

"All through my childhood and preaching, singing was a part of the ministry," McGruder said, adding, " From the time I was four years-old, I have no memories that don't include standing on a grocery store counter and singing for nickels and dimes." He adds that from the time he was 15 years-old, he has been writing songs and singing.

Continuing, McGruder said, "I love it. I love people."

And that's the reason McGruder's music has lasted so long.  He loves the music, he loves the people he ministers to, and he loves Christ.

In 2013 in Nashville, TN, at the BMI Awards honored Rev McGruder.  He received the award "Christian Writer of the Year."  This was not just for Southern Gospel but Christian music as a whole.   It is from that ceremony where the quotes in this article originates.

I am sure I will have more time to discuss the impact Rev. McGruder had on music in future blog posts.  For now, enjoy this early and precious recording.

As for the other musicians involved:

Rev Carl Shrute pastors at the Living Way Apostolic Church.  He received the Holy Ghost when he was thirteen, started preaching when he was fifteen, and was an assistant pastor in Pensacola, FL.  At the time of this recording, he was a pastor in Gravetown, GA.

Finding information about Connie Farrow is a bit more difficult.  I found an article written by her, however. In this article she references the "Assemblies of God" (which caused me initial confusion thinking the ALJC and the AOG were the same. My mistake) But it suggests she left the ALJC and went to the Assemblies of God.

As for The Wilson Brothers Quartet, they had one release as a group:

I found this information about them on

Bishop Steve Wilson (b. March 7, 1947) is a Christian gospel singer from Potts Camp / Bethlehem, Marshall County, Mississippi, USA. He sang with the Wilson Brothers Quartet in the late 1960's and early 1970's with his brothers J. Michael WilsonSam Wilson (5)Tim Wilson (22). and Steve Wilson (38).

Bishop Steve Wilson was born March 7, 1947, in Atlanta, Ga. to J. Frank and Lillian Wilson and was one of ten children. The family moved to Potts Camp, Ms. in 1948 where his father assumed the pastorate of the Bethlehem Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pastor Wilson was raised in the Bethlehem community, and graduated at Potts Camp High School in 1965.

He attended Pentecostal Bible Institute in Tupelo, Mississippi from 1966 to1968. From what I understand, this was an early United Pentecostal Bible college (and also had CM Becton as a student.) Bishop Wilson began the Wilson Brothers Quartet that traveled the Eastern United States and produced several recordings. The quartet was in demand in the early 1970’s at churches, camps and conventions. He became the Mississippi Youth Director of the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ and later became the National Apostolic Crusaders Director and began their first National Youth Convention, which is carried on today.

He married Pat Snider of Sharon, Tennessee USA on May 15th, 1971. Bishop Wilson began full time ministry at the Bethlehem Church (Potts Camp, Mississippi) in 1968, first as Youth Pastor, then Assistant Pastor, and later, Associate Pastor. After some time he assumed the role of Pastor. In 2009 Bethlehem Church joined Bishop Wilson in celebrating his 40th year of service at this congregation. In March of 2009 Bishop Wilson retired as Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Church.

Download the record for FREE here:

Monday, September 21, 2015

Carroll McGruder Passes Away
Rev. Carroll McGruder passed away 9-15-2015.

I just found out about this today. 

Of course, he was the driving force in the Harvestime record I posted yesterday and a huge influence in a lot of music over his life time.

Please keep this page bookmarked or subscribe to posts.  I will be sharing some early music from him very soon in the near future.

My heart goes out to his family and all those who loved him.  We are of course very grateful he shared so much of himself with us.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Harvestime Songfest "1984"

I am a collector like my grandfather before me.  He had many record albums dating back from the World War II era and through the birth of rock and roll and more.  He owned first pressings of Elvis Presley and so much more.  I learned after he died he had so many records that he had to put a lot of them in a shed in the back yard.

After he died, his family threw most of those records away.  They now take up space in a landfill somewhere, left to rot in piles of trash.  This was the late 1980’s, mind you, an era where CDs rose in popularity and vinyl pronounced dead.  To many vinyl was just another dead format like 8-track tapes.  Yes, die hard collectors continued, but many shed their vinyl collections for CDs instead.

A small handful of records from my grandfather’s collection survived the purge.  My mom gave them to me years later.  None of them are in pristine shape, unfortunately.  They are all well worn, but I can tell he wore them out with love.

Most of this music I am going to share on this blog is from the vinyl era that society tried to forget existed. They are also from my collection.  I will not live forever and I hope that my records end up in the hands of loving collectors after I die.  They should not be left to warp or rot in a landfill.  Until then, I want to share this music with others and bring it out of the dustbins to the modern age.

 In Christian music, the phenomenon of forgetting about older music is even worse.  Most music has a three to five year life span before newer music replaces the old. You cannot go into a new Christian bookstore and find classic albums by artists of the 70s and 80s.  I can walk into Target and find classic rock by secular artists.  Old stuff in secular music stays in print.  In Christian music, old music falls away and flows away like water under a bridge.

This is even worse in denominational music.  For this blog, the focus is on music of the United Pentecostal Church and their fellow sister Oneness organizations.  Why that denomination?  Well, for one, I am familiar with a lot of this music.  Second, a lot of this music is historically important.  There are musicians and songwriters here that had an influence outside of their congregations.  More on that in later blogs.

In preparation for this blog, I have attempted to track down rare vinyl as much as possible. The quest will always continue.  I contacted  some musicians and asked if they had copies of their records for sale or digitally.  One musician participated in 30 plus records.  He responded to me he did not have any of his records in his personal collection.

I hear this response often.  I contacted one church and they had their pastor’s vinyl records in a shed behind the church.  They replied that all the records in the shed had become warped.  They became landfill.

This is my motivation.  This is the reason for this blog.  Most musicians or churches rarely cared enough to preserve their own history.  Their records were a means to an end to raise money for a fundraiser.  This is a slice of American music that should be preserved, not left in a shed to warp and become trash.

This blog may be a trip down a nostalgic road for some.  To others, I hope it is the first time you are discovering this music.  I hope you find something here you can treasure and cherish.  I am dedicated to archiving and preserving these records.  Vinyl is not dead.  It is alive on this blog.

First up: Harvestime Songfest “1984”

The Harvestime song fest was an annual event for a number of years.  Most were just recorded on cassette live at the service and of very poor quality.  This is one of two professional recordings that I know of.  I will share the second on a later blog post.  If you, dear reader, know of any others, please let me know.  The intent of this blog is not only to share but for others to share if they have rare and long forgotten recordings.

From the back cover:


“is the only term that seems to even begin to describe this magnificent two record album set that will become a familiar sound to your home before you know it.

“Pastor Carroll McGruder of Kennett, Missouri, presented the concept of a live recording to our Harvestime Commission in November of 1983 and even though we very much liked the idea, it really seemed like the “Impossible Dream.”  Thank God, Brother McGruder is a driving force and his enthusiastic encouragement, his professional know-how, and his tremendous help with details turned the ‘Impossible Dream’ into a marvelous reality.  Reality that will bring glorious blessing, excitement, and inspiration to you and yours.

“Thank you for inviting this inspired group of Pentecostal singers and musicians into your home.  We assure you that we will do our very best to be everything you need us to be.  If some of us don’t happen to sing the style of music that you like best, just keep listening because one of the beautiful features of this two record album set will sing right to you (even the very first time you listen) and you will be greatly uplifted.  Every song and every singer has a very sincere message, so the more you hear each song and message, the more these recorded messages of praise, devotion, inspiration, and even a hint of nostalgia at times will become a part of your life and will be to you.


“Prayerfully, J. Hugh Rose, Harvestime coordinator/narrator”

Geron Davis-Piano, Organ, Yamaha DX7
Mickey Mangun-Piano, Organ
Melanie Brady-Korg Poly 6, Poly 61, Yamaha DX7
Lanny Wolfe-Piano, with Lanny Wolfe Trio
Nila Rose-Organ, “The Holy City”
James Owens-Bass
Kenny Brady-Drums
Mac and Norma Luna-Guitar, Mandolin
Bruce Watkins-Violins, Guitar

Master of Ceremonies-Carroll McGruder

Executive Producer-Carroll McGruder
Producer-Geron Davis
Engineer-Kevin McMannis
Mobile Recording Unit-The Record Plant-Los Angeles, CA
Mix-down-Hilltop Studios, Nashville, TN
Photography-Buchner and Young Photography, Inc.
Cover Photo and Design-Tim Pedigo

The download is free, as always.  Or just stream it.  I just ask that you LIKE and SHARE this on social media.  Leave a comment if you so feel compelled.   Thank you for your consideration.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Welcome to the blog

Hello, and welcome to my blog.  The intent of this blog is to share out of print and very rare, hard to find vinyl, audio cassettes, and any other format I can find and digitize of music solely put out by musicians from the United Pentecostal Church International.

Why the limited focus to just that style of music?  For one, I feel there are other music blogs out there that cover many other genres of Christian music.  I have not seen any that cover this style of music.  The few sites I have stumbled upon are relics from the 90s and very poor quality, both in design and audio quality for the downloads.

The plan is to share at least one album a month.  Perhaps more if time allows.

This website is not a music ministry.  All the music shared comes from my own personal collection.  The downloads are free.  If you want to donate, that's fine, but donation money will go to charity.  This blog supports both Wayside Waifs animal shelter and also Habitat for Humanity, both non-denominational and non-profit organizations.   In lieu of donations, I ask that you LIKE and SHARE these posts with your friends in social media.  Get the word out about the blog.  I also invite readers to share their stories and experiences with the music in the comments section.  If there is something you want me to share, ask.  If you have a rarity you'd like me to transfer to a digital file, let me know.

During the our time together, I will share what I know about the records I share.  Perhaps some personal stories about the music, etc.  The main focus is on the music, however.  Much of this music is very hard to come by.  Some records took me 20 some odd years to find even one copy.  I contacted some musicians to ask them if they had personal copies I could buy from them or if they would be willing to provide a copy to me and I was shocked to learn that there are musicians out there who do not even have a copy of their own records in their collection.

Thank you for reading.  The first record is coming soon...

Rev. Norman Burns.