Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday Gospel Time: I Have a Dream!

Mrs. Odell Knox & The Famous South Land Singers - I Have a Dream

Tomorrow is the observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (his actual birthdate was last week), and I will follow the advice of The Black Gospel Blog's Bob Marovich and feature one of the many gospel tributes to Dr. King that was recorded after King's assassination in 1968.

Today's selection came out on the Memphis DIY gospel label Designer Records, whose output ranged from great acts that the label promoted (The Shaw Singers) to acts who merely paid fees to get records made (and who ranged from good to bad to awful). Mrs. Odell Knox is one of the many unknowns who made their way to Designer and her MLK tribute "The Faith of Martin Luther King" b/w "I Have a Dream," a two-part sermonette about King and his message, is a stately and moving record. I've chosen to feature "I Have a Dream" today, my favorite of the two sides. While the Famous South Land Singers (who also recorded for Designer, both as a standalone act and as backup for several others - awhile back I featured them supporting "Little Willie" Patterson on two sides) merge lines from Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" and his "mountain top" speech in their refrain, Mrs. Knox relates King's dream and challenges the listener to take up the cause of justice and freedom, a challenge which resonates still today. "So many of us say that we love God, whom we haven't never never seen, but yet we live our daily lives with hate and malice in our hearts," she preaches. "Oh I wonder, I wonder, Lord, I wonder, how many of us [have] taken heed to what this man was teaching?"

(Many thanks to John Glassburner for this track.)

No comments: