God's Children

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We're all God's Children, so the saying goes, but when it comes to the history of gospel music it doesn't seem like anyone is. More precisely, scholars have yet to determine just who exactly sang in the…
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We're all God's Children, so the saying goes, but when it comes to the history of gospel music it doesn't seem like anyone is. More precisely, scholars have yet to determine just who exactly sang in the group of this name whose 1954 single on the JayDee label has literally been praised to the heavens.

The sanctified power of this combination of "Get Right with God," a compelling command, and "I Prayed, I Prayed," a commanding confessional, has been credited with coercing conversions on behalf of a critical citizenry. In terms of its producer, Joe Davis, it also marked a conversion; the decision to begin releasing gospel music, a style that he had resisted up until then despite overtures from promoters such as Cleveland's Bill Hawkins.

Davis nixed the band Hawkins hawked, the Five Angels of Harmony. He went ahead with a gospel release nonetheless, in less time than it takes to polish a halo, coming up with the God's Children product. Some fans of this producer felt he had delivered something of a coup de grace with this single, grace being meant bilingually, in that its power made any further gospel productions unnecessary. Particularly effective was the sound of the instrumental combo -- a simple trio of guitar, bass and drums -- who have also managed to remain personally anonymous. Even Davis' biographer, Bruce Bastin, has been unable to uncover any information about this group other than the name of the author credited with the two spirituals, Ulysses Smith. Musicologists with a spirit of adventure to match Homer's Ulysses have been looking for this Smith ever since. Skeptics fear the name might have been concocted as a way for Davis to collect royalties for what were actually traditional songs in the public domain -- it certainly sounds like one of his made-up names -- although it is hardly as corny as a Davis favorite, E.V. Body.