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GOSPEL   Reverend James Cleveland

Called "The King of Gospel Music," James Cleveland developed a style and wrote songs that continue to influence the gospel genre today.

Reverend James Cleveland
and the Tabernacle Singers

He'll See You Through
click on title to listen

  1. Something's Got a Hold on Me
  2. I'm Glad I'm His Child
  3. Every Time I Feel the Spirit
  4. The Only Hope We Have Is In Jesus
  5. Stop--It's Praying Time
  6. Beyond Every Cloud There's A Silver Lining
  7. He's So Divine
  8. Great Day
  9. A Closer Walk With Thee
  10. In My Father's House
  11. Oh Lord I Trust in You
  12. He'll See You Through
  13. Sit Down Servant
  14. The Lord's Prayer

This recording was made in 1959 with a large gospel choir from a church in Newark, New Jersey which Cleveland called The Voices Of Tabernacle. I produced it independently with the intention of selling or leasing it to Columbia Records. Columbia turned the album down, and it was relegated to the archives, and forgotten.

With the marketing success of recorded music on the Internet, I recently decided to review my old recordings from the 1950’s to determine whether anything existed which might be worthwhile for the contemporary market. These recordings which were digitally remastered from acetates (the tapes were lost) are a wonderful example of James Cleveland’s early work with a large church choir, and as such they have historic significance. Although a number of the soloists are remarkable, their names are  unknown to me. James Cleveland’s solos however, are easily recognizable. So far as I know this CD contains the only unreleased recordings by a James Cleveland choir.

--Sol Rabinowitz    

 

Born in December of 1932 and raised in Chicago during the great depression, Cleveland started singing gospel at the age of eight. Young James sang in the choir of his grandmother’s church where Thomas A. Dorsey, acknowledged by many as the father of gospel music, was the choir director. Listening to Roberta Martin, another Dorsey disciple, he was inspired to teach himself to play the piano. His early practice was on  the window sill at home, where he simulated black and white keys. By the time he was in high school young James was an accomplished jazz and gospel player.

Roberta Martin, who grew to become one of the Chicago gospel pioneers and an international star, counseled young James to write songs. Her group also helped shape his singing. The Thorn Gospel Crusaders, a neighborhood group with whom he sang,  performed his early songs. This exposure brought his songs to the attention of many prominent gospel artists. At a 1948 Baptist convention, Cleveland’s "Grace Is Sufficient" caused a enough of a reaction for Roberta Martin to begin publishing his works.

First recordings were made in 1950 with the Gospelaires for the Apollo label in New York. He was featured on his own song, "Oh What A Time." It was during this period that Roberta Martin began recording his songs. He began as an arranger with The Caravans, a major gospel act, eventually joining them as a singer. He was lead vocalist on "Old Time Religion" and "Solid Rock," two important songs for this group. He then formed the first of his own groups, the Gospel Chimes which focused attention on his abilities as a composer, arranger and singer.

The Rev. James Cleveland died in February of 1991 in Los Angeles, California. He was 59.

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