“A Wheel in a Wheel, 'Way Up in the Middle of the Air” (1916–1928)

Jerry Zolten

in Great God Aʼmighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195152722
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849536 | DOI:
                   “A Wheel in a Wheel, 'Way Up in the Middle of the Air” (1916–1928)

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“A wheel in a wheel.” So go the words of the old African American spiritual. No one knows exactly what the ancient biblical images meant, but they do coincidentally resonate with the life of James B. Davis, founder of the trailblazing Dixie Hummingbirds. His entire existence, so it seems, has been caught up in wheels within wheels. The story of the Dixie Hummingbirds rightly begins with the coming of age of James Davis. He is prototypical of the founding fathers of modern black gospel music. His experiences growing up in the 1920s in a black community in the segregated South had everything to do with the Dixie Hummingbirds—the direction they took, the music they performed, and the impact they ultimately had on gospel music as a genre.

Keywords: Dixie Hummingbirds; James Davies; black gospel music; black community

Chapter.  5668 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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