Civil Rights Songs in the Key of Freedom Still Resonate

“Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I’m worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand precious Lord, lead me on.” In the movie Selma, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. calls Mahalia Jackson, the “Queen of Gospel,” at a moment when he is most discouraged. Over the phone, she sings “Precious Lord” to comfort him. For me, this was one of the …

Bobby Womack: Soul Man

Even if you didn’t know Bobby Womack by name, you probably dug some of his songs that helped make other performers into stars. Womack, who died on June 27 at age 70, was one of the pioneers of the soul sound – a singer, guitarist and songwriter who helped create the fusion of gospel, R&B and jazz that moved a generation to get out and groove to the music. Womack’s own roots stretched back to the great Sam Cooke, who gave …

Cleotha Staples: 5 Facts About the Soul Music Legend

When such Staple Singers‘ hits as “I’ll Take You There” and “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)” came on the radio, it was easy to get lost in Mavis Staples’ raspy, soulful contralto lead vocals. But if you listened closer, another part of what made the Chicago gospel-soul group’s distinctive sound was the deft soprano harmony of Mavis’ sister Cleotha, who died on Feb. 21 at age 78 in Chicago. In the words of Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot, Cleotha’s …