The Meditation Singers - A Change Is Gonna Come
It's not a stretch in any sense to acknowledge gospel as being a part of the soundtrack to the Civil Rigths Movement. From spirituals to gospel, African-American sacred music has always, directly or indirectly, been linked to the story of black deliverance, be it from slavery or from segregation. The fact that many civil rights leaders were tied to the church further advanced this notion.
Today's selection is, of course, the biggest contribution to the civil rights soundtrack made by Sam Cooke, whose death in 1964 was felt across both the gospel and soul music worlds. "A Change Is Gonna Come" stands is stark contrast to Cooke's other famous songs. The gospel imagery and strong message made the song instantly anthemic, and I cannot even begin to count how many artists have recorded it (most recently, Leela James included it on her 2005 debut album).
The Meditation Singers are probably better known among soul fans for giving the world Della Reese and Laura Lee, but on recordings for Specialty, Checker and other labels they provided some great gospel music. Their take on the Cooke classic features switch-off lead vocals (Laura Lee's vocals really stand out in this regard) and is very good.