Great God A'Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds: Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music

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Oxford University Press, Feb 6, 2003 - Music - 384 pages
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From the Jim Crow world of 1920s Greenville, South Carolina, to Greenwich Village's Café 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 to unfold 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 Decca label. 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, Café Society. From there the group rode a wave of popularity that would propel them to nation-wide tours, major record 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 gospel music itself.

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GREAT GOD A'MIGHTY!: The Dixie Hummingbirds and the Rise of Soul Gospel Music

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The story of the Dixie Hummingbirds, seen as a case study of post-WWII changes in the record business and in gospel music.They got together in 1928 as a youthful church quartet in segregated ... Read full review

Great god a'mighty!, the Dixie Hummingbirds: celebrating the rise of soul gospel music

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Still going strong after 74 years, the Dixie Hummingbirds have been one of gospel's most inspiring groups. With help from artists Hank Ballard, Otis Williams, and founder James Davis, Zolten ... Read full review


A Wheel in a Wheel Way Up in the Middle of the Air 19161928
I Just Got On My Travelin Shoes19291938
Aint Gonna Study War No More 19391942
Twelve Gates to the City 19431944
Move On Up a Little Higher 19451949
My Record Will Be There 19501951
Lets Go Out to the Programs 19521959
Loves Me Like a Rock19601976
The Dixie Hummingbirds on Record
General Index
Index of Groups
Gospel Song Titles

Who Are We 1977 and Beyond

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About the author (2003)

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 record producer and promoter, he lives in Warriors Mark, Pennsylvania.

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