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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.