Street Sounds: Spreading the gospel with Talkin’ Christmas

Vocal gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama and folk-blues veteran Taj Mahal bring a needed shot of uplift and pathos in a hectic time.

The 70-year-old Grammy winning vocal gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama got their start in 1944. They bring that continuity and a feeling of timelessness to their Talkin’ Christmas holiday season recording with folk-blues veteran Taj Mahal guesting.

Two of the original members from ’44 are still there: singers Jimmy Carter (not the former peanut farmer) and Clarence Fountain.

No Room in the Inn is an exemplary track here – it’s not a frosty Christmas ditty like those that are usually trotted out at this time of year by many.  Instead, it’s an old-time get-to-church blues/gospel hybrid that evokes the sense of a southern revival meeting. But the feeling in the song is one that is instantly recognized and appreciated at this time of year.

Singers like Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe made recordings similar in spirit decades back that dig deep into the gospel tradition and The Blind Boys of Alabama are carrying on in an updated version of that style of spiritual Christmas music.

Guitarist/singer Taj Mahal’s rich acoustic guitar accompaniment is a natural companion, a lively instrumental voice that links the group’s sound to a distant past as much as it accentuates its vibrant character (The Sun is Rising).

Perhaps the most significant song on the album is the poignant, soul-tinged track What Can I Do? The song addresses the loneliness and isolation that many people experience at this time of year in a dignified call-and-response performance. Like the rest of the record, it’s a much needed shot of uplift and pathos in a hectic time.

Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who write a weekly music column for The Morning Star.


Just Posted

$24M invested in North Okanagan wastewater recovery project

Four years of hard work paid off after government invests big money into water project

No decision yet on Sagmoen hearing

Publication ban in effect covering media’s fight against publication ban

Finished Kelowna Innovation Center partners up with Spaces

Kelowna’s Innovation Center concludes four years of construction

Vernon Winter Carnival digging up historic events

60th anniversary festival urging community groups to join in with their favourite event

Needle buyback program fails to gain support in Vernon

Existing Folks on Spokes program proving effective

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

Gruesome details of Kelowna mother and daughters’ murder heard in court

Forman didn’t want his daughters to ‘grow up in a world where daddy had killed mommy’

Facebook group forms committee against Thompson Nicola R.V. crackdown

Group discusses issues with regional R.V. bylaw at recent meeting

Free Tesla 3 offered with purchase of Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

B.C. communities urged to improve access for disabled people

One in four B.C. residents has disability, most want to work

Sikh millworker lodges human rights complaint against Interfor, again

Mander Sohal, fired from Delta’s Acorn Mill, alleges discrimination based on religion and disability

Twenty day search for missing Labradoodle ends with tears of joy

After twenty days of worry, thousands of kilometers driven, hundreds of social… Continue reading

Most Read