Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Can't Nobody ...

mid-week gospel

... tell me that this isn't a beautiful LP! A gifted artist and a piano. That's about all you need. And Martha Abbott does give it to us, in abundance, on her 1976 Hoyt Sullivan LP Precious Is His Name (HSE LP # 1458): eight songs, a marvelous voice and about 85 ivories in black & white.

From the cover of HSE LP # 1458
(changed to B&W)
Martha Abbott's first HSE LP was recorded in Nashville and probably released in (late?) 1976; however, three songs from the album were filed for copyright only in January 1977 (if that is to mean anything). The album features two songs by Martha and several more or less known tunes by others.
     Mrs Abbott, daughter of Rev. and Mrs. John H. Clark from Columbus, Ohio, and married to deacon Robert Abbott, dedicated her life to church music. In 2001, she was among the inductees of the Columbus Senior Musicians Hall of Fame and I understand that she is still active in several Columbus baptist communities and occas- ionally gigging. Apart from this, information about her is scarce.

Several months ago, Alex on his blog posted a piece on Martha Abbott. He writes that he called her (you'll actually find her phone no. on the back of the HSE LP!) and eventually had a nice conversation after overcoming some (understandable) diffidence on her part. She said that »Precious Is His Name« (listen to it on Alex's blog) was the first song she ever wrote and that her first HSE LP was recorded in Nashville. After that, she recorded in her hometown of Columbus instead and released a total of eight LPs. Locally, Martha is a known artist and her LPs sold well throughout Ohio and in neighboring states. »You can find them everywhere« she added. Not less importantly, Mrs. Abbott stressed that she feels blessed to have been able to perform her music for so many people for such a long time. »It's all about Jesus,« she said. (Read more here) ... and yes, the cover photo from her HSE LP seems to be the only known »official« photo of her. It does seem to come, in style and posture, from a by-gone epoch so that's why I changed it to B&W above. Not so her music which resonates today.

On most songs of her LP, Martha Abbott is accompanied (almost shyly and much in the background) by an electric organ; on »Precious Is His Name« and »All Of My Life« we have only her and the piano. Some of the tunes are church ballads, but two others are true downhome piano stompers, with a hint of barrelhouse: James Cleveland's »It's So Hard To Get Along« and Andrae Crouch's »Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus« (which means »can't nobody treat me like Jesus« as the lyrics say at one point). It's just what I felt I needed to hear today. Hope you feel the same!

Martha Abbott: »It's So Hard To Get Along« / »Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus« from the HSE LP # 1458 (1976):

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