Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Soulful Easter!

Today with a superb, rare album from summer 1974 ... The Sisters And Their Sons ... that is, The Loving Sisters from Arkansas together with their offspring:

ABC-Dunhill / Peacock LP # PLP-59204 (1974)

The Loving Sisters are Gladys McFadden, Loraine (sic) Leeks, Josephine Dumas and Ann James (all called »Williams« originally), accompanied on this LP by their respective sons George Williams, Larry James and Leonard Givens (the spelling of the names according to the back cover; there are different spellings around in other sources!). Gladys McFadden was the driving power behind the Loving Sisters: She not only produced this album, but also sings lead and wrote all the songs. You can find her on Facebook.

**Update May 2012: Read more about the members, the family and the early history of the Loving Sisters here. **

The first song which you can hear in the following is inspired by Psalm 34:4 (»I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears«). It is a very beautiful tune, and the lead-voice of Gladys McFadden blends nicely with the accompa- nying voices. This does create a certain call-and-response-effect, even though the song is no call-and-response-song in the proper sense ...: »I Sought The Lord«. This song was in its time also released as single (ABC-Peacock # 20005):

The Loving Sisters (feat. Gladys McFadden): »I Sought The Lord« from the ABC-Peacock LP 59204 (1974):

Who knows the Loving Sisters, nowadays? Yet they already had a long history, back in 1974: Founded in the 1950s by Gladys Givens McFadden, the group first played locally in Arkansas. In 1962 they were given a recording contract by Dan Robey, president of Peacock. During the Civil-Rights-struggle the Loving Sisters were active in and around Little Rock, stood on stage together with Martin Luther King Jr. and toured with C.L. Franklin (Aretha's father). There is a (unfortunately rather low-quality) video of one of their shows on Youtube.

In the 1970s, the Loving Sisters became known for their »soul-gospel«, the like of which you can hear on this album. Gladys McFadden said:
»I wrote almost everything that we ever sang ... A lot of what I wrote would fit into today's music. It had a rock flavour, but the words were gospel. We wrote according to our environment, but ABC didn't really know what to do with a gospel artist. ... People are still trying to find our music. (quoted in Bil Carpenter, Uncloudy Days, p. 258)«
Without doubt their 1974 album is as good as anything that was released in the fields of gospel and soul during the 1970s! And this brings us to the highlight of the LP: »I Can't Feel At Home« - funky, soulful, bluesy ...! In contrast to the song you could hear before Gladys McFadden is in this tune accompanied only by male voices. But this was just the right decision for this truly hypnotic groove song:

Gladys McFadden & The Loving Sisters's Sons: »I Can't Feel At Home« from the ABC-Peacock LP 59204:

* * *
BILLBOARD, July 6, 1974, p. 49
* * *
Late-night Postscript:
Arkansasonline published on May 13, 2010, a long and detailed article about the Loving Sisters and the achievement of Gladys McFadden. For our purposes, the following passages are relevant:
Signed by Peacock Records in the early 1960s, the women recorded 10 albums and garnered a Grammy nomination over the years. They performed across the nation. They marched with Martin Luther King Jr. “We would always sing. We would march on the front lines,” McFadden recalls. “We were young and courageous, fearless and all those things.” The Loving Sisters sizzled on stage, singing about the Lord like sanctified Supremes. “I think to my taste, the Loving Sisters were the last great group of the golden age” of gospel music, says Anthony Heilbut, author of The Gospel Sound.
McFadden wrote much of their music and took charge during concerts. “She was so scrappy. Such a nice little fighter on the floor,” Heilbut recalls. “She would sing, she would preach, she would croon. She’d go up and down the aisles. She’s very graceful.” The records are hard to come by these days, although copies pop up on eBay from time to time. McFadden says she’s lost all but one of her 10 albums; a friend borrowed the LPs and then lost them, she explained.
Carpenter says McFadden and the Loving Sisters are some of the pioneers of gospel music who deserve to be remembered and honored. “They’ve gone through a whole lot in their career but haven’t received the recognition they deserved,” he said. “They laid the foundation for today’s gospel stars.”

No comments:

Post a Comment