June 13, 2009

KEEPING FAITH:

Gospel Singer’s Discovery Was 60 Years in the Making (SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN, 6/13/09, NY Times)

On the Sunday morning when Naomi Davis first sang gospel for an audience, in the wood-frame sanctuary of Mount Coney Baptist Church, Harry S. Truman was president and Martin Luther King Jr. a precocious teenager graduating from college. Naomi was 6, a farm girl from the outskirts of Midway, Ala., population something like 500, nearly entirely black.

With her older siblings Hattie Mae and Annie Ruth, Naomi performed throughout her childhood in the Davis Sisters, harmonizing on “I Got Over” and “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” They went from church to church, played at Baptist conferences, did shows from a radio station in Tuskegee.

For decades to come, Naomi Davis could envision no life except singing. That vision lasted through day jobs and different states, through marriage and motherhood; for a time in the 1960s, she cleaned houses in two shifts before doing a soul show at a Brooklyn club called the Night Cap.

Through it all, one thing eluded her: a record album. As 78s gave way to 33s, as LPs surrendered to CDs, as iPods and downloads emerged, only a few singles attested to the musical existence of Naomi Shelton, her married and professional name.

Then, a few weeks ago, the obscurity ended, and in an unlikely way. An independent label, Daptone, with its diehard audience among the young and hip, released the first album by Mrs. Shelton in a gospel career that began 60 years ago.



MORE:
-MYSPACE: Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens
-SONG OF THE DAY: Naomi Shelton Knows What You've Doner (NPR, 6/11/09)
-PROFILE: Naomi Shelton's Everything Bagel: Daptone's new gospel-soul star prefers Friday-night masses (Jim Allen, May 26th 2009, Village Voice)


Posted by Orrin Judd at June 13, 2009 7:39 AM
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