Mitchell's Christian Singers of Kinston, NC made their last recordings in a studio in Chicago on August 7, 1940. Document's fourth and final volume of this excellent quartet's complete works opens with seven titles from that session, then packs in 17 sides by the Wright Brothers Gospel Singers who were based in Dallas, TX. The decision to combine recordings made during roughly the same time period by two groups who operated more than 1,000 miles apart from each other turned out to be uncommonly sensible as they sound surprisingly alike. With Jessie and William Wright acting as lead vocalists, the Wrights were a family ensemble. Walter Wright sang tenor, Monroe Wright was the baritone, and either George or Jimmie Wright sang bass. The soulful delivery used by the Mitchells and the Wrights was almost identical, with the Wrights displaying an even heavier reliance upon rolling rhythms: "Walk Around" is a stirring example of how they used oscillating repetition. "Gospel Train" was their feature tune. Legend has it they'd darken the room, stand in a line with Christmas lights coiled around their arms, and move in unison to simulate the action of a steam locomotive starting up. Tracks 21-24 appear to have been recorded in San Francisco in 1948 and were originally released on the Trilon record label. Similarities between the two groups indicate a tradition that lived in the air, as it were, and became manifest at different points of the compass. All four volumes of Document's series devoted to Mitchell's Christian Singers are highly recommended, including the fourth, more than two-thirds of which focuses upon the Wright Brothers Gospel Singers.
Mitchell's Christian Singers, Vol. 4: 1940 Review
by arwulf arwulf