Pilgrim travelers jesus met the woman at well with
The pioneering quartet dubbed "gospel's first showmen" The Pilgrim Travelers: Ray Charles credited as Pilgrim travelers jesus met the woman at well with of his models the Pilgrim Travelers baritone Jesse Whitaker when Ray fused hard gospel style to secular themes to create soul music in the '50s. Another giant of soul music Lou Rawls rose from the Pilgrim Travelers ranks. As a community-based group, personnel, style and repertoire changed frequently as they appeared in the area, usually on weekends at church and quartet concerts. Their membership began to stabilise in when, after winning a quartet competition, they were Pilgrim travelers jesus met the woman at well with the opportunity to travel with the Soul Stirrers.
In Johnson decided to move the group to Los Angeles rather than to Chicago to avoid direct competition with the Soul Stirrers. By this point Johnson had turned over the management of the group, returning later with a new group, the Chosen Gospel Singers. Johnson served for many years as an advance man for Herald Attractions, setting up the package gospel tours that filled churches and auditoriums in the '50s. He quickly established an iron grip on the group, co-ordinating stage behaviour, selecting uniforms and working tirelessly to establish the Pilgrim Travelers as a top gospel draw. Alexander was born in and reared in Coffeyville, Kansas, home Pilgrim travelers jesus met the woman at well with the legendary African American choral director Eva Jessyeand sang both gospel and popular music during his youth.
Before joining the Pilgrim Travelers in he played professional baseball in the Negro League and sang with the Southern Gospel Singers. After an appearance at People's Independent Church, Mrs Greenwood brought the Pilgrim Travelers to the attention of entrepreneur Art Rupe whose Specialty Records were to become one of the biggest independent labels of the '50s. In with Specialty the Travelers scored successes in the gospel market with their two biggest hits. Wrote Horace Clarence Boyer, "While 'Thank You, Jesus' sets up a toe-tapping tempo over which the group literally spits out their thanks to Jesus for bringing them 'a mighty long way,' 'Jesus' is cast in sombre colours and tempo - one of those instances where tempo and mood belie the text.
The text of 'Jesus' is a rehearsal of the goodness of the Lord and could very well have been delivered as a jubilee or a shout. The ballad tempo, however, ensures strict attention to the lyrics; a more sprightly tempo might have drawn the listener to the beat. The song begins with an anticipation by Turner on the word 'oh,' to which he assigns nine different tones, followed by the entrance of the group on the word 'Jesus. Before continuing with the text, bass singer Raphael Taylor inserts a riff bum-bum-bum-bum-bum of five tones which would become a standard gospel 'lick'as the group continues with 'when troubles burden me down.
This device would become associated with Ira Tucker in the early '50s. While Turner became much more vocally active during the two stanzas of the recorded version, the song remains a prime example of the mixture of jubilee and gospel, for which the group became famous. With their Specialty hits the Pilgrim Travelers had become one of the biggest acts travelling the Gospel Highway. But the dangers of constant travelling came home to the group in when they had a serious car accident, a head-on collision near Palm Springs that injured Keith Barber to the extent that his voice was ruined. Although he continued with the group his great soaring baritone was gone.
A publicity release from April noted that one of the largest audiences ever to attend a gospel programme in New Orleans had showed up to see the Pilgrim Travelers and the Spirit Of Memphis, filling the Booker T Washington Auditorium to a capacity of almost 3,; over fans had to be turned away. Changes in the group's line up began to occur in late First, a third lead singer, Walter Budgett, was added. Originally from the Mississippi Delta, Budgett had been a quartet singer all his life, singing first with the Glorylanders of Clarksdale, Mississippi, then being picked up by the Kings Of Harmony of Birmingham. He stayed with them less than a year but was on their January session, contributing the impassioned composition "I Love Jesus" and singing lead on Jesse Whitaker's "In My Heart".
While the interplay of Turner and Barber remained the group's main attraction, Budgett would be used to lead on some numbers. Not feeling he really fit the group's style, Budgett quit to join the Chosen Gospel Singers. After Budgett left, a major personnel change was the switch in from the group's original bass singer, Rafael Taylor, to George McCurn. McCurn was an experienced quartet bass, possessing a rich, deep voice, who'd once worked with the legendary Kings Of Harmony of Birmingham. By the mid '50s things were winding down for the group. In the group left Specialty Records and signed with Andex Records, a company owned by the Siamas family.
The Pilgrim Travelers recorded 15 gospel tracks for Andex together with some secular songs. The Pilgrim Travelers ' 'Look Up' album was well received but more by white audiences than the gospel fraternity, thanks to the inclusion of the track "Go Down Moses" being used in the seminal film Blackboard Jungle which also helped popularise Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock". Years later their gospel recordings turned up on a budget line album issued by the Italian Joker label, mysteriously credited The Alabama Singers. Those who love gospel's rich roots are urged to check them out. The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.
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This device would become associated with Ira Tucker in a early '50s. InAlexander teamed with Sam Cooke to found SAR Records; the new company attempted to relaunch Turner's career, but in the passing years, the singer had succumbed to alcoholism, and he arrived in Los Angeles too drunk to enter the studio.
The Pilgrim Travelers - 78 RPM - Discography
By mid, their ranks included bass Raphael Taylor as well as J. Inthe group issued six singles; after just three the following year, in Specialty released no less than ten Pilgrim Travelers sides, all of them to strong sales particularly "Jesus Met the Woman at the Well" and "Mother Bowed". After an appearance at People's Independent Church, Mrs Greenwood brought the Pilgrim Travelers to the attention of entrepreneur Art Rupe whose Specialty Records were to become one of the biggest independent labels of the '50s.
To give the Travelers an edge on the competition, Alexander pushed his partners to hone a tightly choreographed live show which, over the years, became increasingly frenetic, much to the delight of the many women attending their performances. By this point Johnson had turned over the management of the group, returning later with a new group, the Chosen Gospel Singers.
THE PILGRIM TRAVELERS
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