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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Priscilla McDonald​-​Bless His Holy Name

I would like to write for a bit about the arbitrary value of old records.  It amazes me that some vintage Christian records sell for three or four figure amounts. I guess it's supply and demand. But I found this record on Music Stack's website for a fair price...I forget exact price, but about $15.00.  And this is a nice, clean copy.

After I bought it, I saw a copy of this record go for $150.00 on Ebay.  I guess if there's somebody who is looking for that record at the right moment when you're asking that price, you have a sale. But I've also seen records some people attempt to sell for a lot of money that never sells.

It all seems arbitrary to me. There is no price guide for these old records. The value is what somebody sets upon it, I guess.

But this record gets attention from more than just collectors of old gospel music. This record cover gets the attention of people who like to collect "bad" cover art. I get's funny to them to see women on old records with big hair. And, yes, there is a collector's market for that.

But this record deserves to be appreciated, not mocked for the cover art. This comes from the indelible Priscilla McDonald. This record was recorded when she was a humble secretary for the Harvestime offices in St. Louis, Missouri. She came from Modesto, California, born October 25, 1948. Most will remember her as the wife of Rev. Carroll McGruder.  They wed on June 1st, 1976.  So that gives you some idea the time period this record was recorded.  There is a lot that could be said about the power of her ministry. She was truly anointed and the spirit of God moves through her songs.

No doubt marrying a secretary with the Harvestime ministry is one of the reasons Rev. McGruder became involved with the Harvestime songfests over the years. I shared the 1984 Songfest LP as the first record posted on this blog.

I share this record to continue the celebration of great female music ministers in the United Pentecostal Church. This also serves as a spring board for what you can expect from me in May.  For the month of May, I am going to share with you some of the classic Harvestime compilations from my personal collection.  Some great music is coming up!  "Stay tuned!"

Please download (and SHARE with your friends if you like it) HERE.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Shirley Cohron​-​Happiness

There are a few record labels from the late 60s and early to mid 70s that were known to feature a number of Pentecostal musicians.  One such record label was Heart Warming.  They brought us a treasure trove of great gospel music, including this wonderful selection.

Shirley Cohron was a member of the indubitably incredible The Rambos.  I don't think that band needs any introduction to readers of this blog, but if you are unaware, Buck and Reba Rambo were the powerhouse duo of southern gospel music that got their start in the United Pentecostal Church. They formed the band The Rambos and released some of the most beloved recordings of gospel music in any denomination. I doubt I will share much of their music on this blog, as much of it is still in print and easy to come by on CD and vinyl. 

Shirley is one of the voices that brought the heavenly tones of that band to the ears and hearts of millions. Here is one of her solo records, expertly and wonderfully produced and the lush sounds of this record is like a balm to the heart and soul.

She had been singing in churches since high school in Columbus, Ohio. It's in these early days she joined up with Buck and Reba Rambo. She went on to marry Will Cohron in 1964 and took their music ministry from coast to coast and even to Jamaica.

They divorced sometime around 1990, from what I understand was due to Bro. Cohron making some unfortunate choices. I know God is the forgiver and died for all sins, but it's a bit of a sad coda in this story. Their son, Anthony, currently pastors a church in Jacksonville, FL.  There is quite a discussion about Will and Shirley and where they are now on the Apostolic Friends Forum.

Mine is not to focus on the human failings of those who serve Him, but celebrate and share the wonderful music that draws us closer to Him.  This music was anointed when it was recorded, and it's just as anointed today.

This is a marvelous record. You can enjoy it HERE.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Vesta Mangun​-​A Little Light

In Pentecostal music, very few names are as well known as the Manguns. President Bill Clinton named Mickey Mangun and the Pentecostals of Alexandria as favorites. A lot know about them through his connection. But it all started with a recording by a humble God fearing woman, Vesta Mangun.
She's still a powerhouse woman of God, still preaching and evangelizing. Her remarkable ministry has touched millions. There is no end to stories, information, or testimonies to the power of this woman's music, books, and preaching. Somebody could write an entire blog about her ministry.
There is not a lot I can add to all that information.  So I am going to tell you about my process to bring these from vinyl to digital for you to enjoy. If you want to learn more on how to do this, read on. If not, the link to download the record is below, and please enjoy!
I've been transferring vinyl to digital for about 15 years or more now. When I started out, I did not know what I was doing. My early transfers were awful, but at the time I thought they were fine. What I have learned about the process has been trial and error.
I have developed the process over time and am confident in my process. I would put my projects up against any professional service out there. I will not call out any names, but I've ordered some rare Pentecostal records on CD. Some direct from the minister or some direct from the record label.  One album I received sounded atrocious. And one of the tracks ended in the middle of the song! The volume levels were too low, as well. I asked them why their CD sounded so terrible (and I paid good money for much as a new album would cost.) Their basic response was, "What do you expect? It's an album from the 1960s." 
There was another company I ordered CDs from. They sent CD-Rs without any track listing or album art. Also, the volume levels were all over the place. One CD was barely audible, even with the volume turned up. Another CD was so loud the music was distorted. Others had skips over entire segments of the songs and nobody did a thing to fix it. Their prices were not cheap, either.
Subpar, inferior, and all around frustrating. Why is it that I, with just a desktop computer, a turntable, and RCA cables, can transfer audio and churn out better quality files?
To add to my frustration, I obtained a copy of that rare album from the 60's and did my own transfer from vinyl to digital. Granted, the record is just in good condition, so it's been well worn. It's hardly a copy I would want to master a CD transfer from. The final results were so much clearer than the CD I paid for. It was obviously not because the record was from the 1960's.
So if I can provide a few tips I've learned over the years, I feel I would be doing a service. I run the RCA cables direct from the device, whether it's a turntable or my cassette player, into the audio in on my sound card in the back of my computer. There's no buzz sound. If you are getting a buzzing sound, you're not grounded. It could be your turntable (older turntables and cheaper ones are not grounded on their own.) Or it could be your sound card if you know it's not the turntable. (If you don't hear the buzzing when the turntable runs through speakers, it's the sound card.) The goal is for no hiss or buzzing in the final output.  That is is a huge.  Even if you use noise reduction, it can diminish the final audio that has the hiss or buzz in it. So best to eliminate that at the source.
Next, I record it into Audacity. I love Audacity because it's free and the tools to fix the audio are fantastic. The "click removal" is essential in preserving old audio such as this. You can also reduce the surface vinyl noise with noise removal. There are other tools, and and the other tools are trial and error. You can always look at You Tube videos on each tool. Cassette tapes often need more work than vinyl. The bass and treble settings help with muddy sounding tapes. Audacity is a fantastic tool, and I highly recommend it.
I continue to use Nero Wave Recorder for final tweaking of the source material to bring it to your ears. It's far easier in Nero to adjust the volume levels. And that is VERY important to me. I ensure that the volume levels on all the albums I transfer are the same on every song. As with anything, this is also learned through trial and error. I've even increased some quieter parts of songs to match the volume levels of the rest of the song.  It's time consuming, but I feel the final quality I produce is worth it.
You can adjust the volume in Audacity, but it's a bit time consuming. You have to wait for the program to rewrite the entire file. Then, if it's not where you want it to be, you have to do it all over again. It's too time consuming in there for me.
I also use Nero to split the files into individual tracks. I use about a three second intro of silence before the song starts and two or three seconds after the songs ends. Fade in and fade out the silent parts, too. There is still slight surface noise. It's best to increase the volume than just start the track with that background noise.
My methods may be time consuming. It's not as easy as just dropping the needle and saving whatever result comes out, no questions asked. If that's all you're going to do, and it's for personal use only, then that's fine, I guess. But I like my entire digital music library to have uniform volume levels. That way, if I burn a CD or listen to the songs on another device, one song is not absurdly loud while another is barely audible and I have to crank the volume to hear it.
If you want to learn more about my process, or want some screen shots of what I do, contact me and I will help you more. I have developed a high standard for what I expect from a vinyl/cassette to digital project. If you want to share your files with others, these are great tips. For companies and ministers trying to sell their old records on CD, these tips are essential. Stop selling inferior product. I am here to help you if you need it. I want to contact the company with the record from the 60s and offer my services to transfer their entire library. Who knows if they would even take me up on it.
But that's a little insight to my process and the tools I use. I will add that I use a turntable that is already grounded, and that's essential, as well.  If you use a turntable that is not grounded, you're going to get a buzz in the final result. Furthermore, do not run the cables from the headphone output. You can get more hiss that way. It's always best to run line direct from the output in the back. I recommend the Audio Technica line of turntables. I am not a fan of Crosley or cheaper turntables. I also don't like to use the USB ports.  Line direct is always best for me. I have an AT-LP 120-USB turntable (but I don't use the USB ports.) I find it's better. And you can hear the clarity and results in my labor of love in the final recordings.

As for the record information, I believe this is Vesta's first record.  Judging from the age of little Anthony Mangun on the back cover, it's safe to say this record likely came out around 1960 or a bit before.  It also features the vocal talents of a young Murrell and Joan Ewing and Ruby McKellar! Quite a treasure!

Here is the latest project I want to share with you.  Please download HERE.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Marvin & Lola Abbott-I'm Going Up

Rev. Marvin Abbot is the son of Rev. Mack Dixon Abbot, a Baptist minister and farmer who was born 3/31/1894.  Rev. M.D. Abbott married Esther Joseph in 1915 and sons Marvin, Earl, and Chester soon followed.  They also had twin daughters, Oleta and Vinita.

In 1930, the family visited an Assembly of God church meeting led by Rev Jim Barber in Western Oklahoma (Elk City and Sayer area.)  They learned about the oneness of God, Jesus' name baptism, the Holy Ghost infilling, and speaking in tongues.  Rev. M.D. Abbott was saved and filled with the Holy Ghost.  Mother and all five children soon followed.  He and the family were baptized in Jesus' name.

They served in full time ministry starting in 1934 at Sayer, OK then later moved to Vernon, TX. After a year, Rev. M.D. Abbott evangelized in West Texas and Oklahoma.  They eventually moved in Roswell, NM and built their church, which still stands to this day.  This is were Rev. Marvin Abbott found salvation.

That information came from Mary Wallace's book, Old Time Preacher Men.  Aside from that, there is not much online about Marvin and Lola Abbot, their ministry, and their music ministry.  It's kind of a shame.  This is great music.  A nice southern gospel selection that doesn't break any new ground, but is a marvelous spin all the same.

I hope in sharing of this record, I learn more about these fine people and their music ministry. If you have any memories or stories to share, please email them to me or share them in the comments section and God bless.  I have more music to share from them, so hopefully your information will help make that future blog post something great!

You can download the selection HERE.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Retha, Ricky, & DeWanna-Soft Gospel

I think my work on this blog is coming full circle.  I say that because now, when I research these records online, a lot of the links bring me back to this website.  That is great! My goal of bringing this music into the Internet age is slowly, one album at a time, becoming realized more and more every day. So now there are more chances somebody will come across my blog by chance while trying to find vintage Pentecostal music.

So, that said, there is not much I can share about this album based on what I've found online. The names here (Ricky Fornols, John Fornols, Retha Eubanks, and DeWanda Campbell) yield no results or results that do not seem to be connected to the people involved on this record.

What we have on this record, however, is where this album came from: The First Pentecostal Church of Port Arthur, TX.  It's a hop, skip, and a jump away from 1121 Bowlin, Port Neches, TX, the address of John Fornols.  I assume he is the brother of Ricky.

Rev. B.H. McCoy passed away November 7th, 2015.  He lived in Port Arthur for 46 years, where he served as pastor of the First Pentecostal Church.

The other notable name on this record is the infamous J.T. Pugh.  Anybody with even a passing familiarity of the history of the United Pentecostal Church likely knows this name.  There is a lot of history about him at the Apostolic Archives. Rev. Pugh went to the First Pentecostal Church to serve as pastor of The First Pentecostal Church in 1949 and spent seventeen years there. 

The history of this record, however, is a bit more unknown.  Other than knowing the members of this trio were in that church under Rev. Pugh and Rev. McCoy, I don't know more about their musical ministry.  Of if this is their only record or if there are more.  What I know is "Soft Gospel" aptly describes the sound here. This is easy praise and worship music.  This record is a nice blessing and a great find.  I hope it's a blessing to you as well.

Download HERE.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Gospel Accents-A Life Was Changed

Today's selection is a random find from the vast resource that is Ebay.  I find many of the records I share on this blog by chance.  If I go into a record store and an employee asks me what I am looking for, I cannot tell them.  While there are still records I would like to find by the bigger names in Pentecostal music, I don't pretend to know them all.  So how can I possibly ask for "The Gospel Accents" before I know there is a band called "The Gospel Accents?"  The only way I can find new and exciting records (to me, and hopefully to a lot of you) is by searching general terms.  Some general searches find more than others.  And if I find one seller selling a Pentecostal record, I look through the rest of their inventory.  I rely mainly on instinct, and clues on the cover art, that make me look closer.  Girls with PhD's for example (Pentecostal hairdos) are usually a sign.  Or a band with their goofy grins plastered on the Bible open to the book of Acts.  Kind of a subtle hint!

From there I look at the back cover photo, if available.  I search for names online.  Olen Edwards is the lead singer, and a quick online search later tells me that Rev. Olen Edwards was a Pentecostal preacher from Okemah, OK.  There is not much information, and nothing on the church's website.  I think it's sad they don't even remember their heritage on their own website.  But there are obituary records.  Rev. Edwards also was a huge help in his hometown working with Larry Long of Blue Planet Green Living to help bring the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival to Okemah.  You can read more about Rev. Edwards work with Larry here and here.

You can also listen to a sample of Rev. Edwards' contribution to this festival and purchase a digital copy of it here.

So that's all great information!  I understand Rev. Edward's help with "bringing Woody Guthrie home" almost cost him his ministerial position.  I won't get into Woody's politics, but I think that's a shame that Rev. Edwards' devotion to God was in question over this.  The temporal things we focus on in contrast to the eternal....

Finally, if there was any question this was a true United Pentecostal treasure of the past, here it is.  The original Pentecostal Publishing House sticker on the record cover, marked down a dollar clearly to clearance it out!

I can not find any information about the others involved in this record.  As with anything I share on here, if you have your own memories or experiences to tell with this group or any members within, please share in the comments section below.

This record is good and pleasurable southern gospel.  Quite enjoyable.

Download HERE.