Selah Jubilee Singers

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1941-1945)

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Document's second volume of vintage gospel recordings by the Selah Jubilee Singers contains 22 sides dating from the years 1941-1945, almost exactly covering the duration of the Second World War. During this period, the nucleus of the group (bass voice J.B. Nelson and tenors Thermon Ruth, Nathaniel Townsley, and John Ford) was augmented by baritone singer Fred Baker, who strummed guitar in place of their former pianist Andrew Antley. Others who sang with the Selahs during this period were Melvin Colden and Norman Harris. In addition to various originals and hearty old-time melodies such as "I Saw the Light" and "Just a Closer Walk with Thee," the playlist holds several topical creations that speak directly to wartime reality. "Wasn't That an Awful Time at Pearl Harbor?" and "Mother Don't Cry If Your Son Goes to War" are bracingly specific, while "In the Army of the Lord" contains the sort of militaristic metaphor that has been present in Christian music for centuries. Within a few years this group would appear at the Apollo Theater, and its leader Thermon Ruth would redirect his energies into the burgeoning rhythm & blues market.

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