By and By update!

Digging through interviews we’ve conducted with most of the major New Orleans gospel quartets over the last year, the name that comes up most frequently as a non-NOLA influence is Sam Cooke. He’s been gone since 1964, but you wouldn’t know it. Just ask our friends at Just Moving On.

And it’s not just his songs that linger. This cover of “That’s Heaven To Me” from an Electrifying Crown Seekers rehearsal is a case in point. While most quartets pride themselves on doing complete rearrangements of gospel standards, check out what James Williams, Sr. does here with his voice. The phrasing, tone, diction – everything leans to Cooke. It’s as if that signature lilt were built into the bones of the song. Few of the quartets we’ve captured on the By and By project deviate from Cooke’s phrasing when they cover his songs (a notable exception is a breath-taking “Change Is Gonna Come” the Voices of Distinction turned in at November’s Rocks of Harmony anniversary. Yes, we hope to eventually post).

In the mean time, we hope you’ll enjoy this clip. Cooke would have been 80 this weekend. When Los Angeles DJ Magnificent Montague closed out an interview with Cooke not long before the singer died, he riffed that “Sam Cooke’s yours – he’ll never grow old.” Rarely has hip patter been so true.

Matt Bowden


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