In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
From 1934 to today, from the churches of Virginia to the most prestigious international stages, the story of The Golden Gate Quartet is that of more than 60 years of golden age spiritual. An exceptionally long life due to the permanence of a style where individualisms have always given way to the importance of the quartet.
Four students from Booker T. Washington college (Virginia), Willie Johnson (baritone), William Langford (tenor), Henry Owens (second tenor) and Orlandus Wilson (bass), united by the same passion for music, create a quartet, The Golden Gate Jubilee Singers, a name chosen long before San Francisco inaugurated a bridge of the same name...Coming from very religious families, the four young men have participated from their childhood in the "junior choir" of their church and then the "glee clubs"... a musical style which they adapt and codify, harmonising in the mood of the day the scarce sentences of old traditional chants.The "Gate's Style" is thus born of the interpretation of texts reconstituting the atmosphere of the dramatic events lived by the black people.
From the beginning, the group sings in churches and on local radio, adopting certain of the vocal processes of the Mills Brothers such as the imitation of musical instruments by the voice. Whilst one cannot deny the influence of the Mills Brothers on the Golden Gate Jubilee Singers, some titles - such as the stunning "Massa's in the cold, cold ground" - show that, inspired by the style of their elders, they have already improved it by adding their own orginality: the setting of a lived experience to music and song.
The members of the group are Paul Brembly (Baritone), Clyde Wright (2nd Tenor), Frank Davis (1st Tenor) and Anthony Gordon (Bass).
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Review: When the GGQ burst onto the gospel music scene in the 1930's out of the Tidewater region of Virginia, black churches were quite musically conservative and not given to rhythmic experimentation or nods toward popular music. Thus there was a fair amount of head-shaking when the GGQ emerged as the leader of a very fine pack of Gospel groups during a very difficult and trying time in American history. Appearing on a North Carolina radio station led to a move north, then to a Bluebird recording contract. The strong beat and counterpoint in those first recordings are looked upon as a turning point in Gospel music, a rebirth of the spiritual. "Rock My Soul" has 20 marvelous tunes, recorded from 1937 to 1943, all of them upbeat, rhythmic, harmonic hits. Listen to "Golden Gate Gospel Train," "Jonah In The Whale," "Go Where I Send Thee" and the vocal "horns" on "Massa's In The Cold Cold Ground," the title tune-this is amazing stuff. Humorous songs like "Preacher and the Bear" and "Jonah In the Whale" have as much novelty pop in them as Gospel. "Stalin Wasn't Stallin" (about the defeat of Hitler by the Russians) and "Comin' In On A Wing and a Prayer" feed nicely on the "God is on our side" sentiment of WWII. Not at all maudlin or dire like some Gospel groups, the GGQ are cheerful, joyous and celebratory in their music, and we think they are one of the best, and most interesting, of all time!
Review: Here, the Golden Gate Quartet provides the listener with a wonderful selection of tracks from pure jubilee performances to popular songs of the day.