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Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter. Issue #6.  Bringing the world of Doo Wop, R&B, Soul and Gospel Harmony to your Inbox.. 

Classic Urban Harmony
Newsletter #06

Welcome to Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter #6.   Again, we have to sadly report the passing of a few more great singers.  We also have to report the closing of another legendary record store, John Moore's Middle Room Records, which will shut its doors forever at the end of this month.  John Moore has been a close friend since the 1970's and he and Middle Room Records have played a vital roll in the preservation of group harmony in the Philadelphia area for the past thirty years.  This is truly the end of an era [see the article below].  On the brighter side, a couple of new books have been published on the early history of group harmony and there's still a lot of great harmony to be heard.  Again, we thank each and everyone of you who enjoys reading our newsletter, visiting www.classicurbanharmony.net, and/or attend our presentations and events.  We hope you'll continue to support us. 

Classic Urban Harmony LLC promotes the legacy of Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop, Soul and Gospel Vocal Group Harmony through multimedia presentations, historical research, interviews, magazine articles, museum displays, radio guest appearances, our website, www.classicurbanharmony.net, and this free newsletter.  Here you'll find news of important events relevant to our music as well as updates to our website and summaries of our Classic Urban Harmony activities and projects.  To read more about and see more photos from the articles in this newsletter, check the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.  We hope you'll enjoy this issue of the newsletter and again find it entertaining and informative.  Please continue passing the word on to others who might want to receive it.  They can sign up by sending their names and email addresses to CUH@att.net. - Charlie & Pam Horner - February 16, 2013

John Moore's Middle Room Records Closes: Rare Records Store a Philadelphia Landmark 

   For those group harmony fans who grew up in Philadelphia (and for many who visited Philly looking for records), we're sure you're aware of John Moore's Middle Room Records.  John Moore and Charlie Horner are very close friends and co-hosted WXPN's Rhythm & Blues/Classic Urban Harmony radio program together for many years back in the 1980's.  John Moore's record store, Middle Room Records has been a collectors' landmark in Philly for almost 29 years now.  A large percentage of the records in our Classic Urban Harmony Archives first passed through Middle Room Records.  John's store is talked about with great respect as far away as Great Britain and Japan.
   Alas, all good things must end sometime, and John told us this week that he'll be closing his store at the end of February.  In fact, all of the 45's are already gone.  This is truly the end of an era.  All of us in the Philadelphia area owe John Moore a debt of gratitude for all that he did for group harmony over the years.  John's dedication to our music was displayed in numerous ways, including his record conventions, live acappella concerts, bus trips to concerts in North Jersey, radio shows, helping groups get back together, and of course Middle Room Records.  Who in Philly can forget the Friday evening doo wop sing-fests at the store?  Thank you, John, and best wishes for your retirement from record selling.  We know you'll continue to be a dedicated collector and historian of group harmony.  We've just posted a page on our website dedicated to the history of Middle Room Records.  See numerous photos of John and the store over the years, including pictures from the Friday evening doo wop sing-fests at the store, by following the link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.

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Rare Photo from Paul Ressler's Archives - The Charioteers with "Miss Cinderella of Television"

    Our friend Paul Ressler lent us the above rare photo from his collection, to share with readers of this newsletter.  The photo is of the Charioteers, most likely taken in June of 1948.  The group is pictured with "Miss Cinderella of Television" whom we believe is Dolly Lewonas of Chester, PA.  She was selected winner in a Chester-based contest.  We hope to post more photos from Paul Ressler's Archives in future issues. 

New Aaron Neville CD Honors his Doo Wop Roots

   The new Aaron Neville CD, "My True Story," pays homage to Aaron's roots in doo wop music.  Produced by Keith Richards and Don Was, the CD features smooth versions of group harmony songs like "Tears On My Pillow," "Ruby Baby," Ting A Ling," Under The Boardwalk," "Money Honey" and "My True Story".  A number of our friends sang background on the album, including Eugene Pitt (Jive Five), Joel Katz, Bobby Jay and Dickie Harmon.  For more details visit www.aaronneville.com.

Limited seating left for Classic Urban Harmony Presentation, "Crossing Jordan: How African American Spirituals Changed The World," set for February 20.

There are only about 15 seats left for the Classic Urban Harmony multimedia presentation, "Crossing Jordan: How African American Spirituals Changed the World".at the Franklin Township (NJ) Public Library, 485 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ 08873, on Wednesday evening February 20, 2013 at 7 PM.  (In the event of severe inclement weather, the snow date is February 27).  The presentation will begin with the development of Spirituals during slavery times and discuss their religious origins as well as their use as communication among slaves (references to the Underground Railroad, etc).  We’ll discuss the Fisk Jubilee Singers, their hardships, triumphs and accomplishments.  We’ll cover how Spirituals evolved from the early days through more modern groups like the Golden Gate Quartet, Swan Silvertones and Soul Stirrers.  The presentation is FREE to the public but you must register in advance by calling the library's Reference Desk at 732-873-8700.  And while at the Library, take time to visit our display of Spirituals memorabilia.  For more information on these and other happenings, see the Events Calendar of www.classicurbanharmony.net.  This  presentation is in connection with the Franklin Township (NJ) Cultural Arts Council's celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation..

 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe subject of PBS TV Documentary, Feb. 22. 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Gospel music superstar, guitarist and a major influence on Rock & Roll music, will be the subject of a PBS TV documentary to be first aired on Friday, February 22 at 9 PM EST (check your local TV listings for time and channel in your area).  The spiritual passion of Tharpe's gospel music inspired many rock ’n’ roll singers, including Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard.  The film features archival performances and interviews with musicians, producers and friends, including Howard Caroll of The Dixie Hummingbirds, which toured frequently with Tharpe,  gospel music author writer Anthony Heilbut, Ira Tucker, Jr., son of The Dixie Hummingbirds’ Ira Tucker, Sr. and Tharpe biographer Gayle Wald.  (Above photo courtesy of Paul Ressler)

Artifacts from our Vaults

    Our Classic Urban Harmony Archives contain many music related treasures, some buried so deeply in our vaults that we've long since forgotten where they came from or that they're even there.  Often we come across these lost treasures while we're looking for something else.  We thought we start sharing these items with you, one-by one, in this newsletter.  This issue's artifact is a campaign card, promoting career U.S. army officer and politician Winfield Scott Hancock.  Hancock ran for president, narrowly losing to James Garfield by a few thousand votes in 1880, so that dates the card.  So why is this card in our Archives?  Well, stamped across the card are the words "Norfolk Jubilee Singers, SA Hathaway, Agt." inside an oval.  Other examples of this card are known but as far as we know, don't have the Norfolk Jubilee Singers stamp.  The Norfolk Jubilee Singers were a touring group, in the tradition of the Fisk Jubilee Singers.  Song books and picture cards of the group have survived.  This card indicates the group may have been involved with Hancock's campaign for president, or perhaps sang at his politcal rallies.  This group is one of the early examples of vocal harmony groups from the Norfolk, VA area.  They are NOT related to the later Norfolk Jubilee Quartet of the 1920's and 1930's. 

Rev. Brenda Boone's Classic Gospel Program in Portsmouth, VA, Postponed until March 24.

    Last issue we talked about Rev. Brenda Boone's annual Gospel program which had been scheduled for February 17.  Due to a scheduling conflict it has now been rescheduled for March 24 and moved to a new location, Willett Hall, 3701 Willett Drive, Portsmouth, VA 23707.  Willett Hall is a spacious entertainment facility with outstanding acoustics.  Rev. Boone's programs always feature hours of spectacular Gospel music from about a dozen Gospel groups and/or soloists. This year is no exception. The program will feature Arthur Crume & the Original Soul Stirrers with special guest and former Soul Stirrer, Frankie Davis (in from Paris, France, where he's been singing with the Golden Gate Quartet), Rev. Luther Barnes & Sunset Jubilaires, Van Jones & King David's Harp, Elder Ronnie Harper & Harmonizing Echoes, the Gospel Disciples, the Word Singers, the Hurdle Brothers, Evangelist Tracy Edwards-Wright and Sister Carolyn Smith.. It all takes place on Sunday, March 24, 2013, beginning at 4 PM (doors open at 3).  Donation, $20 advance, $25 at the door. Contact phone numbers are 757-477-3828 or 757-539-3384.  See Our Events Calendar Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net for info on this and many other events featuring vocal group harmony.

Past Issues of the CUH Newsletter Now viewable online

Want to catch up on any past issues of this newsletter that you may have missed? Now you can. Just go to the top of this newsletter and click on "View it in your browser". Then you be able to click on "Past Issues" on the upper left of your screen.

More Details and Photos from the Above Articles on our Website

There's just so much we can fit into one newsletter issue, but many of the articles here are repeated on our website with additional details and photos. To read more visit the "What's New Page" of www.classicurbanharmony.net. And while there, don't forget to visit our other pages, like Our Events Calendar Page, Our Bookshelf, or our section on Articles We've Written.

Gregory Carroll Dies: Co-founder of the 4 Buddies; later a member of the Orioles, Dappers, Jim Nabbie's Ink Spots. 

    We now report the sad news of the passing of John "Gregory" Carroll, a founding member of the Four Buddies and later a member of the Orioles, Dappers and Ink Spots.  Gregory died on January 24, 2013, at the age of 84.   Gregory Carroll was born December 19, 1928, in Baltimore, MD.  He grew up in northwest Baltimore near Pennsylvania Avenue, the cradle of R&B vocal harmony and home of Sonny Til & the Orioles.  Gregory co-founded the Four Buddies, whose "I Will Wait" (Savoy 769) reached #3 on the R&B Charts in 1950.  [Rarer first presses of the record list the artist as the "Four Buds".]  Several great group harmony classics followed for the Four Buddies, including "Sweet Slumber," "Heart And Soul," "My Summer's Gone," "Why At A Time Like This," "You're Part Of Me," "What's The Matter With Me" and "My Mother's Eyes".
    In May of 1953, Gregory Carroll left the Four Buddies to replace George Nelson in the Orioles.  He's on the Orioles' biggest recording, "Crying In The Chapel" and sings the bridge on the flip, "Don't You Think I Ought To Know".  In the above photo (courtesy of the Paul Ressler Archives) Gregory Carroll's face has been pasted over George Nelson's (middle row, second from the left).  With the Orioles on the road so much, they apparently didn't have time to get new photos taken.
    When the original Orioles split up, Gregory formed the Dappers who recorded for the Groove and Rainbow labels.  In the early 1960's, Gregory co-wrote and produced (and is most likely singing on) "Just One Look" by Doris Troy.  He finished his singing career with Jim Nabbie's Ink Spots.  We've posted a tribute page to Gregory Carroll on our website.  We've included a complete bio, many label scans and YouTube's of key recordings of Gregory Carroll with the Four Buddies, Orioles and Dappers.  Visit the link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net to take a look.

Classic Urban Harmony's "Crossing Jordan" Spirituals Presentation a hit with the Seniors Group at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens

     What a great time we had giving our latest multimedia presentation, "Crossing Jordan: How African American Spirituals Changed the World," at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ on February 12, 2013.  The predominantly African American church traces its history back to 1933 and has a congregation of 6000.  Our presentation was for the seniors group and about 100 - 150 people were in attendance.  We were warmly received by an enthusiastic audience.  Following our presentation the Senior Choir sang a couple Spirituals.  We were also treated to a delicious lunch.

Temptones' Brian Utain dies

   Just heard from Bobby Eli, that Brian Utain died on February 15, 2013.  Brian had been in an auto accident and went to the hospital but was sent home.  He died from apparent cardiac arrest.  Brian was an original member of the Temptones, a blue-eyed soul vocal group from Philadelphia that also contained Daryl Hall (later of Hall & Oates fame).  The group got together at Temple University.  The Temptones are seen in the above photo with the Temptations at the Uptown Theatre in 1967; Brian is at the far left in the bottom row.  The group made two outstanding records for the Arctic label.  John Oates later joined the Temptones as a guitarist.
   "I first came to know Brian in the 1980's, when John Moore and I were helping different doo wop acappella groups find gigs," recalled Charlie Horner.  "Brian was singing with Acappella Gold at the time.  He later sang with a few different groups over the years, including Just Us, Cornerstone, the Pinktones and Around the Corner.  Pam and I last saw him at the Philly Doo Wop Festival in 2006.  He was singing with the group, Now & Then.  Brian was a great guy and we'll miss him."  See the What's New page of www.classicurbanharmony.net for more information on Brian Utain.

Darlene McCrae dies.  Founding member of the Cookies and Raelets.

    Ethel "Darlene" McCrae, founding member of the female R&B trio, the Cookies, died on February 5, 2013.  The Cookies started singing together in the choir of First Baptist Church in Coney Island, NY.  Known for their recording of "In Paradise," the Cookies also excelled as backup vocalists, backing numerous artists including Joe Turner, LaVern Baker, Ruth Brown and Ray Charles.  The group, including Darlene McCrae, eventually evolved into Ray Charles' Raelets.  Darlene's sister, Earl-Jean McCrae would later sing with a second Cookies group that would record "Chains" and many other songs during the 1960's.  Darlene is on the left of the above photo (Photo courtesy of Paul Ressler).  To take a look at our tribute page for Darlene McCrae, visit the link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.  

New Book details life of Golden Gate Quartet's Willie Johnson

    Thirty years in the making, Chandra J. Johnson's biography of her father, Willie Johnson of the Golden Gate Quartet and Jubilaires, is now available.  The Los Angeles Times named the Golden Gate Quartet’s lead Willie Johnson “the Gospel innovator of Rock N’ Roll”.  The Golden Gate Quartet was so much more than the previous statement indicates.  The “Gates” were the most important Gospel and Spiritual vocal quartet of the 20th Century.  They gave rhythm and a beat to Gospel music and influenced thousands of vocal groups in all musical genres.  For those of us who are serious students of early vocal group harmony this book puts the Golden Gate Quartet in the context of American history.  Read our review of the book and if you wish, be linked to where you can purchase a copy, by visiting the Bookshelf Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.

Lynn Abbott & Doug Seroff's New Reference Book on Early Black Quartet Singing soon to be available.

We have just acquired an early copy of Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff new book, "To Do This, You Must Know How: Music Pedagogy in the Black Gospel Quartet Tradition".  The book traces "the currents of Black Gospel quartet instruction from the halls of Fisk University to the mining camps of Birmingham and Bessemer, Alabama, and on to Chicago and New Orleans."  It follows the history of Black Gospel quartet singing by a detailed study of those who taught the quartet singers the songs and how to sing them.  We'll review this 468 page book shortly on our website's Bookshelf Page and let you know how to purchase a copy.  At first glance, it looks like an incredible reference book and a must have for any serious music researcher's library.   

Esquires' Sam Pace Dies

Sam Pace, tenor for the soul vocal group, the Esquires, died Monday January 14, 2013, at the age of 68. Pace was born in Kansas City but moved to Milwaukee as a teenager. There he began harmonizing with brothers Gilbert and Alvis Moorer and Shawn Taylor. The Moorers had formed the Esquires in the late 1950's. By 1966, the Esquires traveled to Chicago to record. They auditioned for producer Bill "Bunky" Sheppard with an original tune called "Get On Up". Sheppard liked the song but thought something was missing. He brought in Mill Edwards from the group, the Sheppards, and Mill added his own vocal bass line, as a hook. The record was a huge success. The group followed with "And Get Away," "Why Can't I Stop," and "I Don't Know". Of the original group, Mill Edwards is now the only surviving member.

Little Isidore & Inquisirors "Clean Up Good" in Fair Lawn, NJ

    A capacity crowd filled the Knights of Columbus hall in Fair Lawn, NJ, on January 26, 2013, when Little Isidore & the Inquisitors presented their "Clean Up Good" concert.  Little Isidore and his group are among the most unique, talented and entertaining performers in the harmony/R&R world.  The show was awesome with the group performing thirty songs in two sets.  Special thanks to Little Isidore and to Pam Nardella for such a great time.  You can see more photos and a review of the event on www.classicurbanharmony.net.  To learn more about Little Isidore & the Inquisitors visit http://littleisidore.net.
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