May 6, 2011 by gadaya
In the summer of 1927, Ernest Phipps and His Holiness Quartet, all members of the Free Holiness Pentecostal Church around Corbin, Kentucky, journeyed to Bristol, Tennessee, to record for Ralph Peer for the historical “Bristol Sessions”. These sessions were considered the “Big Bang” of real American Country Music recordings mostly because Jimmy Rodgers and The Carter Family,two of the most successful and influential early Country artists were discovered there. During these few days in in July and August 1927, Mr Peer recorded a large sample of vernacular music from the South, String bands,banjo players, singers and religious bands. Among the religious performers, the most exciting sound came from Phipps and His Holiness Quartet, who sang in the fervent and vigorous style of the Holiness Church, accompanied by string instruments and clapping. This type of religious performance evolved from “The Great Awakening”, when “American Protestant rebelled against Old World Puritanism ” and spread a new spirit of religious fervor and emotion, which lead to the foundation of new religious groups like the Pentecostal and Holiness Churches. Like in many african-american churches, the congregation was invited to sing and rejoice with all his heart and sometimes reach a kind of ecstatic experience through the process.
-Listen to “A little talk with Jesus” by Ernest Phipps and His Holiness Singers
Ernest Phipps and His Singers would record six sides in 1927 and six more the following year. Apart from his preaching/singing occupations, Phipps was a coal miner. Born around 1900, he died in 1968.
Here are Ernest Phipps’s complete recordings:
- A Little Talk With Jesus
- Bright Tomorrow
- Shine on Me
- I Know that Jesus Set Me Free
- Went Up in the Clouds of Heaven
- If the Light has Gone Out in Your Soul
- Don’t Grieve after Me
- Happy in Prison
- Jesus Getting Us Ready for that Great Day
- Old Ship of Zion
- Do, Lord Remember Me
- I Want to Go Where Jesus is
-For another great example of this type of religious music, I strongly recommend the singing of Brother Claude Ely. I discovered him on the superb box set “Goodbye Babylon” issued by Dust-To-Digital a few years ago and this label issued a biography book this last winter that includes a cd of his best performances.
Shine on Me
Listen to “Shine on me” by Ernest Phipps & His Holiness Singers
Some verses of “Shine on me”, sung on the Anthology by Ernest Phipps & His Holiness Singers come from of a 19th century hymn called “Maitland” by George N. Allen which was sung with the words of “Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone”, a text by Thomas Sheperd. But the chorus (“Shine on me” ) comes from a popular african-american spiritual “Let the light from the lighthouse shine on me” that was recorded many times during the last century. Usually sung with increasing speed and volume, (hear Leadbelly’s and Blind Willie Johnson’s for example), it is a beautiful and powerful song, really leading to elevate the “spirit”!
I’ve selected 10 versions of “Shine on me” that goes back to the early Gospel quartets of the 1920’s to the incredible harmony singing of the Gospel bands of the 1950’s, including some great guitar players/singers like Blind Willie Johnson, Leadbelly, Cliff Carlisle and Rev. Gary Davis.
- -Wiseman Sextette (1923)
- -Bryant’s Jubilee Quartet (1928)
- -Fisk Jubilee Singers (1930’s)
- -Blind Willie Johnson (1929)
- -Leadbelly (1947)
- -Cliff Carlisle Quintet (1930’s)
- -The Swan Silverstones (1950’s)
- -Kings of Harmony (1950’s)
- -Soul Stirrers (1950’s)
- -Reverend Gary Davis (1954)