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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ann Grant & The Little Lights-Cleo

I would like to conclude Vacation Bible School month with a bit of a personal choice for me. A little over ten years ago, a not-so little light was vanquished from this world and Heaven shone just a little brighter that day. And while Ann Grant called her puppet ministry "The Little Lights," there was nothing little about how much the light of this ministry shined and touched so many hearts.

I've known for quite sometime I would be writing this blog entry. I reached out to some people Ann worked with in the past on her records eager for them to share their memories of recording these songs and stories with her and what her ministry meant to them. Nobody responded to me. Some deleted my friend requests on Facebook before I had a chance to contact them, I guess thinking I was spamming them.

As the day grew closer to writing this blog, and even today, I did not know what I was going to write. Then, as I was uploading the album tracks to Bandcamp, God spoke to my heart and reminded me the best thing I could share with this post is not what has been written about on websites elsewhere. God told me the people who were touched by her ministry have already shared their thoughts, and people could go to other websites to read those memories if they wanted to. (And, if you want to, most of them can be found here.)

But, as I often do, I kicked against the pricks, so to say. You see, Ann died of cancer. It was hard for me to face the reason why God wanted me to write my own memories instead of sharing others, because in the past year I've lost two precious souls very close to me due to cancer as well.  One, my dad. The other, a beloved family dog.

When I was quite young, my family lost a dog we all loved very much.  And, for anybody who has been a pet owner, we all know it can be as hard on us to lose a loved animal as it is for any member of the family. I was just a kid, and hurting.

My dad took me to a church service where Ann and Darla were ministering with their puppets. It was great. It was so wonderful to see them in person. But what stuck with me all these years later was after the service I went up to Sister Grant and told her about our dearly departed doggy friend. I asked her if God allows animals in Heaven.

In her own simple wisdom and grace, she said without pause, "If God knows your mansion will be complete with your dog, he will be there."

I know there's a lot of theological debate if animals can go to Heaven. Yes, they don't have souls that accept sin or God, they don't have free will, and are not in need of salvation. Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, mused that we do not know for sure if the breath of man goes upward and the breath of beasts only go back into the Earth. If the wisest of all men in the Bible didn't know for sure, how could Ann be so confident? But if God could speak all this that is around us into existence, how much more easily could he recreate a beloved animal in Heaven?

I won't get into the theology of it all here. If you are interested in the topic, I would recommend the writings of Rev. Austin Miles on Jesus and animals and wolves (dogs) in the Bible. It's really fascinating stuff. Did Ann draw on her her knowledge of the theological studies on the topic or did she allow God to speak through her to soothe the heart of a hurt child?

I suspect the latter. From what I came to know of her, Ann was the type of soul who allowed God to flow through her and use her whenever He needed her.

It's a little bitter sweet to think of her losing her battle with cancer and then thinking of both my father and my own dog also losing their battles to cancer in the past year. Maybe that's why I wanted somebody else to write the thoughts for this blog post. But if God asked me to share my own thoughts, I can only pray this post touches somebody else as Ann's ministry touched my heart all those years ago.

Her little light is gone, but I am going to let it continue to shine in this post.

Download her Cleo album here!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Tupelo Children's Mansion Part Three

Continuing Vacation Bible School Month, I could not pass up sharing yet another record from one of the best and greatest sources of children's music in the United Pentecostal Church!

As with nearly all the records I share, we don't know the exact year this was recorded. I am not sure why so many records from this era failed to print the year they were made on the back cover, but it is what it is.  However, we have a clue to narrow it down: Pictured on the cover on the steps in the center is then Mississippi Governor Cliff Finch. So that puts this record somewhere between 1976 and 1980.  It might be easier to narrow down based on the ages of the children involved.

Robert Vaughn is featured as the soloists on three songs here.  He's the son of Lanny Wolfe. Like Doug Davis' help in the past with Ken Workman to bring the Tupelo Children's Mansion records to life, Lanny Wolfe is mentioned on the album notes on the back cover as being the creative force that brought this record to life.

There are some truly outstanding tracks here, but my favorites are "Steve" and "One God Apostolic."

You can download the goodness HERE!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Ernest Weaver-Sing A Happy Song

Continuing "Vacation Bible School" month, I bring to you not really a kid's album, but certainly one that is very kid friendly.  With fun songs such as "Sing A Happy Song," "The Ballad of Nebuchadnezzar," and "The Charismatic Kid," I think it fits the theme.

Most albums I find have only been issued once. On rare occasions, such as with the Harvestime Reflections series, will I find a record has been re-issued.

This record has been issued, from what I can find, three times.

This cover/copy I am sharing comes from a cassette release put out in 1980.

This exact same album has also been released on vinyl and on another cassette release with a different cover.  Here are the other two covers of this album I am aware of:

The vinyl album, if you're wanting to add this to your collection for yourself, is going for nearly $160.00 on Discogs as I write this post.  Needless to say, I am not independently wealthy, so I am just sharing my one and only cassette copy!

But I have to say that album cover art is amazing!  So much better than the yellow smilie face on my copy.  But the music is the same across all three releases. (Disclaimer: the photo of the cassette with his picture as the cover shows a tape with different songs, but I double checked with the store I purchased it from...they listed the track listing on the tape as the same as the tape I already have. The song listings on the actual cassette I have is incorrect, too. I have no idea if the labels were printed by somebody else than who printed the covers or why there is a discrepancy, but to my best knowledge, these three releases all have the same tracks.)

Not much is found about this man online. All I know is that he still appears to be alive living in Fort Wayne, IL. He was the pastor of the New Life Tabernacle in Petersburg, MI.  Outside of that, I do not know much.

This is not one of the bigger names of Pentecostal music. This is not essential music by any means. It's good music, it's overall fun music, and I think that it's worth sharing and keeping around for prosperity's sake.  And this blog was started to feature the smaller and lesser known releases of Pentecostal music.  I think this fits the bill perfectly!

Enjoy the record HERE!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mrs. S.G. Norris Storyteller-Tell Me Now...

Now here is a treasure! This record kicks off Vacation Bible School month! Want to get some great records for the yung'uns? Here you go!

One thing that struck me about this record from the time I dropped the needle. Anybody here spend their youth recording cassette tapes of themselves doing random stuff? Whenever you recorded over the tape, you never completely erased what was first recorded. You could always hear faint strains of it in the quieter parts of the tape. That is what seems to be the issue with this record. I am not sure it's an "issue." I just get the feeling they were trying to save the Apostolic Bible Institute some money by recycling some tape. And it's a kid's record, right? Kids aren't going to notice! But in the background, you can hear the faint sounds of...something. It's especially noticible on "'Ness."

If you don't know, Mrs. S.G. Norris was the wife of Rev. S.G. (Stuart Greene) Norris, the founder of the Apostolic Bible Institute in St. Paul, MN in 1937. When he was in high school, he fell in love with the vivacious Jessie Dunn. Their romance blossomed and continued when he went to college.

She received the Holy Ghost first, and this encouraged Stuart to accept Jesus and be saved as well. They went on to have five children, he lost his job during the depression, moved to New York City for a new job, and founded a church there.

In 1934, Rev. W.T. Witherspoon, Stuart's pastor, commissioned him to pastor a church in St. Paul, MN. He eventually felt the calling to train workers to carry the Gospel into the world and founded the Bible college we all know and love.

And what a ministry it has been! With all their music records they released, and then finding their children's records, it's quite astonishing the work they did all in the name of the Lord! The vivacious nature of his wife is found here from beginning to end, but the best is saved for last. The final track is a fun word play story for all ages!

So gather the kids around the radio...or your cell phone, whatever you choose to play this on! Go back to a simpler time and hear these stories all over again or for the first time!

Enjoy the goodness HERE!