Great God AMighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds: Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music

Hardcover | February 15, 2003

byJerry Zolten

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From the Jim Crow world of 1920s Greenville, South Carolina, to Greenwich Village's Cafe Society in the '40s, to their 1974 Grammy-winning collaboration on "Loves Me Like a Rock," the Dixie Hummingbirds have been one of gospel's most durable and inspiring groups. Now, Jerry Zolten tells the Hummingbirds' fascinating story and with it the story of a changing music industry and a changing nation. When James Davis and his high-school friends starting singing together in a rural South Carolina church they could not have foreseen the road that was about tounfold before them. They began a ten-year jaunt of "wildcatting," traveling from town to town, working local radio stations, schools, and churches, struggling to make a name for themselves. By 1939 the a cappella singers were recording their four-part harmony spirituals on the prestigious Deccalabel. By 1942 they had moved north to Philadelphia and then New York where, backed by Lester Young's band, they regularly brought the house down at the city's first integrated nightclub, Cafe Society. From there the group rode a wave of popularity that would propel them to nation-wide tours, majorrecord contracts, collaborations with Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon, and a career still vibrant today as they approach their seventy-fifth anniversary. Drawing generously on interviews with Hank Ballard, Otis Williams, and other artists who worked with the Hummingbirds, as well as with members James Davis, Ira Tucker, Howard Carroll, and many others, The Dixie Hummingbirds brings vividly to life the growth of a gospel group and of gospelmusic itself.

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From the Jim Crow world of 1920s Greenville, South Carolina, to Greenwich Village's Cafe Society in the '40s, to their 1974 Grammy-winning collaboration on "Loves Me Like a Rock," the Dixie Hummingbirds have been one of gospel's most durable and inspiring groups. Now, Jerry Zolten tells the Hummingbirds' fascinating story and wit...

Jerry Zolten is an Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and American Studies at Penn State University Altoona. The co-author of Speaking to an Audience, he has written profiles of blues artists for Living Blues magazine and penned the liner notes to two of The Dixie Hummingbirds latest compilation CDs. A part-time re...

other books by Jerry Zolten

Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 6.26 × 9.57 × 1.14 inPublished:February 15, 2003Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195152727

ISBN - 13:9780195152722

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"A fabulously entertaining story of the Birds--and it's all here: the 1928 organization, 1938 addition of Ira Tucker, name changes in the early 1940s, Cafe Society in 1942, collaboration with Angelic Gospel Singers in 1950, Go Out of the Program in 1953, the Apollo Theatre in 1956, NewportFestivals in 1966 and 1972, Loves Me Like a Rock in 1973, and full-fledged concerts into the 1990s. This is an extraordinary and welcomed addition to African American gospel music history."--Horace Clarence Boyer, author of The Golden Age of Gospel