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Great God Aʼmighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds

Jerry Zolten

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195152722
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849536 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195152722.001.0001
Great God Aʼmighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds

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From the Jim Crow world of 1920s Greenville, South Carolina, to Greenwich Village's Café Society in the 1940s, to their 1974 Grammy-winning collaboration on “Loves Me Like a Rock,” the Dixie Hummingbirds have been one of gospel's most durable and inspiring groups. This book tells the Hummingbirds' fascinating story and with it the story of a changing music industry and a changing nation. When James Davis and his high-school friends starting singing together in a rural South Carolina church they could not have foreseen the road that was about to unfold before them. They began a ten-year jaunt of “wildcatting,” traveling from town to town, working local radio stations, schools, and churches, struggling to make a name for themselves. By 1939, the a cappella singers were recording their four-part harmony spirituals on the prestigious Decca label. By 1942, they had moved north to Philadelphia and then New York where, backed by Lester Young's band, they regularly brought the house down at the city's first integrated nightclub, Café Society. From there the group rode a wave of popularity that would propel them to nation-wide tours, major record contracts, collaborations with Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon, and a career still vibrant today as they approach their seventy-fifth anniversary. Drawing on interviews with Hank Ballard, Otis Williams, and other artists who worked with the Hummingbirds, as well as with members James Davis, Ira Tucker, Howard Carroll, and many others, this book aims to bring vividly to life the growth of a gospel group and of gospel music itself.

Keywords: Jim Crow; Greenville; Greenwich Village; Dixie Hummingbirds; gospel; James Davis; Decca; Café Society

Book.  384 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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Table of Contents

“Twelve Gates to the City” (1943–1944) in Great God Aʼmighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds

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“My Record Will Be There” (1950–1951) in Great God Aʼmighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds

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“Loves Me Like a Rock” (1960–1976) in Great God Aʼmighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds

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“Who Are We?” (1977 and Beyond) in Great God Aʼmighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds

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