Richard Huey

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If performers could obtain the status of commandments, Richard Huey would probably merit inclusion in the top ten, making essential contributions to the development of sacred gospel music such as writing…
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If performers could obtain the status of commandments, Richard Huey would probably merit inclusion in the top ten, making essential contributions to the development of sacred gospel music such as writing or co-writing classics including "Hurry Sundown" and "Rock My Soul (In the Bosom of Abraham)" as well as partnering in groundbreaking early vocal groups Richard Huey's Jubileers and Richard Huey and His Sundown Singers.

By the early '40s the success of sides released by Huey and associates, some involving additional chorus singing, had established the concept that listeners could and would buy high-quality recordings of religious music. Huey was not a buoy to these themes, however, floating wide and free across the genre waters in a manner that was simply similar to everything else going on at the time including the record labels he worked for and the interests of his songwriting partners. In the latter case, Clarence Williams helped pen the stoic "Hurry Sundown" while simultaneously scribbling pornographic lyrics for classic blues artists. Meanwhile the busiest record labels were happy to release the gospel alongside the smut, right next to the old-time and just around the corner from Tin Pan Alley.

With his superb voice and stylistic projection, Huey had no problem landing Broadway stage roles. He is best known for Bloomer Girl, in which one of his co-stars was the wonderful Celeste Holm. Huey can be seen in Caldonia, a vintage jazz short film, playing the strictly non-sanctified role of the sleazy Felix Paradise in some outlandish nonsense involving jumping jive maestro Louis Jordan and his girlfriend Caldonia.