Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Real Meaning of »E.T.«

Happy Sunday all! Today I would like to tell you the little I know of Emma Tucker. She did several 45s for Nashboro, between 1962 and 1967. This was her first single, re- leased in July 1962 (you can listen to both sides below):
As said, this was the first 45 in her own name. However, she can also be heard on the B-side of Nashboro # 643 (1959, together with Brother Joe May). In addition, she appears on a number of gospel samplers released by Nashboro during the '60s, but no solo LP of her was ever released (there is an Ernie's LP, # 2005, prob. released in the mid-'70s, containing most of her 45s and some other unissued '60s recordings).

Information about Emma Tucker is scarce and hard to come by. She hailed from Montgomery, Al., and was later, at least in 1966, billed as »The Gospel Queen of Alabama«, nothing less! So it appears from an interesting notice in the Florida Star newspaper, in the April 9, 1966, issue, page 3, concerning a vocal contest in Jacksonville, Florida, in which she took part:
So folks, now you know what »E.T.« really means: Emma Tucker or Essie (Mae) Thomas ... I think this is good news after Spielberg tried to lead us astray all these years!
Joking apart, there is another news clip of considerable interest for the career of Emma Tucker. It appeared in the Kentucky New Era, issue of July 27, 1965, page 5, and announces her performance (together with Joe May and others) in Hopkinsville, Kentucky:
Sometime between 1962 and 1964 she appeared on the TV Gospeltime show (they did 66 half-hour shows in all), and in general a lot of Nashboro soloists and groups were featured in this show. You'll find further information about this in Ray Funk: »Research Approaches to Black Gospel Quartets«, in: D.W. Patterson (ed.), Sounds of the South, Chapel Hill 1991, page 101.

Alas, this is just about all I can come up with regarding Emma Tucker! Somewhere on the net a niece of Emma Tucker is mentioned, and there she is called Emma Tucker Harris.

As for the songs, both are credited to Emma Tucker on the Nashboro 45. »I'm Trusting in Jesus« takes some of its refrain from a hymn by Edgar Page Stites (1836–1921), entitled »Trusting Jesus« and first published in 1876. However, most of the lyrics seem to be Emma's own. It is a beautiful song, very moving.
»Free To Worship« is another hybrid creation. It obviously is inspired by the tradi- tional commonly known as »(I'm Glad) Salvation Is Free«, done by The Consolers, Mahalia Jackson and many others. In both tunes, we have an organ as well as a piano (I initially wondered whether Emma Tucker did the piano playing herself, but the piano seems much more remote than her voice on the recordings ... so if this does mean anything, she seems to be only singing). Listen now to Emma Tucker:

Emma Tucker: »I'm Trusting In Jesus« / »Free To Worship« on Nashboro # 731 (1962):

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