Al Green fêted at 37th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, airs Dec. 30

Rev. Al Green is among five recipients of the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors. The gala was held December 7, at the Kennedy Center and will be broadcast on CBS tomorrow, December 30, at 9 PM ET.  The Kennedy Center explains:

The Honors recipients recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts—whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television—are selected by the Executive Committee of the Center’s Board of Trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.

While Al Green demonstrates musical excellence in both the soul and gospel genres, gospel great Marion Williams (whose career included tenures with the Clara Ward Singers and the Stars of Faith) is the only strictly gospel singer to have received the honor since its inception 37 years ago. Don’t you think it’s time for more of our deserving gospel artists to be recognized?  I can certainly think of a handful who merit recognition for their lifetime contributions and excellence, such as Shirley Caesar, Andraé Crouch, Richard Smallwood, and Edwin Hawkins. 

So, here’s a challenge to GMF readers: review the criteria for this honor and submit your recommendation for 2015 here: Submit A Kennedy Center Honors Recommendation

“Rejoicing in Heaven” – Operation Faith feat. Rev. Harold Johnson

“Rejoicing in Heaven”
Operation Faith featuring Rev. Harold Johnson (2011)
Available on CD Baby

Scripture (Luke 15:10 KJV) says, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

Rev. Harold Johnson makes vivid the emotion of this passage in his uptempo single, “Rejoicing in Heaven.”  He is featured with Operation Faith, described as a “Christian/Gospel Music Experience that features various vocal artists, composed, produced and arranged by David Crawford.”

Johnson, a former member of the Motown group Devastating Affair, recreates the 1970’s Memphis soul sound, combining what some would call a couple of essential elements: an Al Green-esque vocal and spicy organ riffs.  His testimony is,  “Jesus claimed the deed to my life and laid His spirit on me,” which is definitely a cause for rejoicing in Heaven as well as on earth!

Recordings by C.L. Franklin, Blind Willie Johnson to be preserved by Library of Congress

I recently posted that Rev. Al Green’s 1970’s R&B hit, “Let’s Stay Together” was chosen this year to be included in the National Recording Registry for preservation in the Library of Congress (see “Happy birthday, Rev. Al Green!”).

Well, I am thrilled to learn that Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” (1927) and Rev. C.L. Franklin’s sermon, “The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest” (1953) are among gospel recordings selected for the National Recording Registry.  These recordings–which meet registry requirements of being at least 10 years old and culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant–will be digitized in formats that are conducive to long-term preservation.
A complete list of the latest additions to the registry can be viewed here: 2010 Registry.
In news related to Blind Willie Johnson, I learned from The Black Gospel Blog that efforts are under way to fund a documentary called The Search for “Blind” Willie Johnson and the Texas Gospel.  According to the Kickstarter campaign site, the film will also examine the musical contributions of Washington Phillips, Arizona Dranes and The Soul Stirrers.  More information about the documentary and fundraising campaign is available at this site: The Search for “Blind” Willie Johnson and the Texas Gospel.
(Photos: top left, Rev. C.L. Franklin; bottom right, Blind Willie Johnson)

“Happy birthday, Rev. Al Green!”

GMF wishes a very happy birthday to The Reverend Al Green, who turns 65 today.

Green serves his Full Gospel Tabernacle congregation in Memphis as pastor while continuing to travel as both a gospel and R&B performer. Among his accolades are multiple Grammys, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the distinction of being one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”  He is also a Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee.

Green’s most recent achievement is that his chart-topping 70’s hit, “Let’s Stay Together” has been selected this year for inclusion in the National Recording Registry for preservation in the Library of Congress.  On that note, happy birthday and congratulations, Rev. Green.