THE SONS OF THE SOUL REVIVERS – SONGS WE’LL ALWAYS SING – A TRIBUTE TO THE PILGRIM JUBILEES
Gospel music has a fundamental heart magic, a soulful joy in the positive things in life that summons a response from believers and nonbelievers alike. That joy is embodied in the music of the Sons of the Soul Revivers (Walter Jr., James, and Dwayne Morgan), whose new album on the Little Village Foundation label, out July 4, 2020, is called Songs We’ll Always Sing – A Tribute To The Pilgrim Jubilees.
The Sons began in 1970, when at the venerable age of nine, Walter Jr. gathered up his brother Sidney and some cousins and began his own gospel group, succeeding his father’s Soul Revivers the Sons of the Soul Revivers.
Their lead singer, brother James, debuted with the Sons at the age of seven at the local playground with a song by the Swan Silvertones, “We’re Going to Have a Good Time.” As James modestly put it, “the people seemed to like it.” When you get on the stage to sing, something exciting, something spiritual, something magical, is going to flow from the stage out to the audience, and my prayer is that everybody will be impacted by that in some kind of way.”
Former Huey Lewis & the News manager Bob Brown, a Sons fans, suggested to Jim Pugh of the nonprofit record company Little Village Foundation that he record the quartet. Jim produced a live album at Bob’s club in West Marin, the Rancho Nicasio, and then more recently the Sons went into the studio for Songs We’ll Always Sing – A Tribute to The Pilgrim Jubilees.
Said James, “We definitely used the Pilgrim Jubilees as a blueprint for how the traditional gospel quartet sound should be. We got a chance to see those guys in 1977, and long story short, they blew us away. When they got on the stage, they sang. They didn’t have fancy gimmicks, they didn’t have a standout tenor singer where you can showcase his vocals, like Claude Jeters (Swan Silvertones), they were just a good, old-fashioned solid group who could really sing. And I said to myself, ‘that’s the way traditional gospel quartet should be.’
Songs We’ll Always Sing offers rocket-propelled rhythms, the kind of close harmony singing that only brothers who’ve practiced for decades can achieve, and the joyful bounce that Duke Ellington called Swing. The rhythm section of Ronnie Smith on drums and Daquantae Johnson is totally in the pocket, and Walter Jr.’s guitar is a delight, fully honoring his favorite early role model, Tito Jackson.
Let’s give Walter Jr. the last words: “We’re giving honor to a group that we grew up listening to, and unfortunately, a great portion of the group is deceased now. And sometimes, gospel groups can get lost in the shuffle, forgotten about, and we decided—they have so many wonderful songs that should be carried to the next generation. So we talked with them and got permission, and so we recorded their hits. We want to spread a good message to a lost world so that people can feel better. There’s something in gospel that soothes peoples’ minds.”
Music heals. Listen with an open heart and it will indeed soothe your mind and soul.