The New York Community Choir

Make Every Day Count

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Mixing gospel with secular music wasn't exactly a new thing in the early '70s. Sam Cooke, after all, had left the Soul Stirrers for a legendary secular pop career in the 1960s. The Edwin Hawkins Singers had a big pop hit with "Oh Happy Day" in 1969, and the great Staple Singers had begun their run of early-'70s gems as well, so the stage was set for the 100-voices-strong New York Community Choir, who came into the public's eye when poet Nikki Giovanni used them on her acclaimed 1971 album The Truth Is on Its Way. Signing to RCA Records, the choir, reduced to 15 voices for recording purposes, released a self-titled album in 1977, which yielded the huge dance hit "Express Yourself," which was gospel in intent but dancefloor disco in sound. This follow-up album was even tighter, merging big dancefloor rhythms with gospel-inspired secular material that still retained a spiritual dimension. This time around, the choir was reduced further to ten voices, and with some of New York's finest session players on board, including Paul Shaffer and Richard Tee on keyboards, Jeff Mironov and John Tropea on guitars, Errol "Crusher" Bennett on percussion, Will Lee on bass, and Steve Gadd on drums, the choir, now known as NYCC, delivered a time-period gem in 1978, highlighted by the upbeat title track "Make Every Day Count" and a fine cover of "I'll Keep My Light in My Window," a tune originally recorded by the duo Caston & Majors for Motown Records (and then later cut, as well, by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye). The album became a big favorite in the East Coast dance clubs, and has been a prized find ever since for gospel and R&B fans and collectors. Real Gone Music finally reissued the LP on CD in 2014, adding in 12" single mixes of "Make Every Day Count" and "I'll Keep My Light in My Window" as additional bonus tracks.

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