Various Artists

Sacred Voices: An A Capella Gospel Collection

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AllMusic Review by

The Sugar Hill label's roster of bluegrass, folk, and country artists is rich with outstanding singing ensembles, and this compilation shows them off at their best, performing traditional gospel music without instrumental accompaniment. The styles vary. Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and the Nashville Bluegrass band both dip into the African-American gospel tradition with "Climbing Up the Mountain" and "Father I Stretch My Hand to Thee," respectively. Tony Rice and Ricky Skaggs deliver "Talk About Suffering" from their celebrated duo album, in a style that harks back to that of brother duos like the Blue Sky Boys and the Delmore Brothers. And Don Rigsby teams up with Ralph Stanley and a host of helping voices in a hair-raising version of "Vision of a Golden Crown." Perhaps the most impressive performance, though, is Doc Watson's solo rendition of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," a traditional hymn whose simple and unadorned melody floats effortlessly on Watson's voice. Highly recommended.

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