Motown music and religion : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

I always tease my congregation and I tell them I am going to preach about James Brown if I can find a scripture passage. Needless to say I have not found a scripture passage. But I was thinking about the music that I grew up with that really touched my life and it was the Motown sound. I remember as a child watching the gospel choirs take off their robes when church was over and then stand on the steps of the church and sing a motown song. Anyone else have any memories of Motown music. This is just for fun. Because church could never start until the children talked about the four tops, temptations etc.

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002


Rev. Rogers,

Motown was definitely hot; but one of my remembrances after Church was sitting either at the table after church, and harmonizing "Lean On Me" The singer's name is at the tip of my tongue; but won't come out just yet.


-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002

Bill Wither's performed "Lean On Me"

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002

Yahoo! Welcome home Carmen, we missed you on the board. Keep posting, we need your positive love and energy.

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002

Down south, it was James Brown, Wilson Picket, and Brother Otis Redding! Oh, dare I forget the "Queen"...Aretha Franklin. My pastor once preached a sermon based on the Delphonics hit "I found love on a two street, but lost it on a lonely highway!" That was pretty cool back in the day!

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002

Umm, your pastor gave a miscredit, then. :-) "Love On a Two-Way Street (circa 1970) was released by the Moments. Similar sound, but not the Delphonics. Their other hits included "Sexy Mama", "Look at Me, (I'm in Love)", and their 1975 team-up witht he Whatnauts on "Girls". You may also know some of the members of the group under a different recording name - Ray, Goodman, and Brown ("Special Lady", "My Prayer").

For Rev. Rogers: "If any man would follow me he must first deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." (Hint: "everybody over there...")

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002

Brother Payne...I stand corrected from the "Doctor on the Hammond." I heard you play at St. Paul in Cambridge. The two groups do sound similar. Especially when you hear the Delphonics sing "Didn't I Blow your Mind." He didn't make the mistake, I did! Did Gamble and Huff work with these two groups?

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2002

There are three additional artists that I would also suggest for their music. The first would be Curtis Mayfield (solo and while with the Impressions). Second would be Marvin Gaye ( What's going on, Mercy, Mercy Me). Third, Brother Stevie Wonder...the Secretary of Fine Arts (as described by Parliament on their Chocolate City Album). I was just playing Marvin Gaye in my study. The present day's events really does "Make me wanna holler."

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2002

My sister Denice:

May I suggest a James Brown passage? The James Brown passage is: "I don't want nobody to give me nothing. Just open up the door and I'll get it myself." The Scripture reference is: 2 Sam 24:21-24 and Psalm 49:7, 8. The passage from 2 Samuel is the story of David and his purchase of the threshing floor from Araunh in order to build an alter to the LORD. David rejected the offer to give him the floor declaring; "No, I will surely buy it from you for a price, nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which cost me nothing."

The thought is this: Surely, everything has its price. God is worthy to be praised. We never praise Him with "seconds". We give him our best. Jesus paid the price for our redemption without negotiations.Therefore we must pay the price to." This is a message that I find very relevant to the AME Church of today; we are too focused on getting someone outside the church to give us something rather than paying the price ourselves.

Please share me what you make of this passage and our Brother James Brown's attention grabber>


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2002

Pastor Paris you are the best. I am going to work on that passage and preach it! Thank you so much.

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2002

Rev. Allen, yes, I was a member of the St. Paul music department from 1974 to 1989. I began my organ playing (publicly) there.

The Moments missed out on the production skills of "the Sound of Philadelphia". Gamble and Huff made stars out of the Ojays, MFSB, the Three degrees, the Blue Notes, Harold Melvin, Teddy Pendergast, and a few others lost in the cobwebs of my mind. Thom Bell brought the Stylistics, the Delphonics, Major Harris, and a few more to the fore.

The Moments can look to the Vipers, the Corvettes, the Four Tops, the Isley Brothers, and Thom Bell as their influences. The Moments recorded on the Stang label, and thus missed out on the power of TSOP.

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2002

Please forgive my lack of knowledge in music but what exactly is Rev. Allen referring to in describing J. Payne as the "Doctor of the Hammond"? QED

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2002

The brother knows his stuff when playing the legendary Hammond B3 organ! In other words, he can make it talk. Ray Allen

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2002

Thanks for the clarification Ray Allen. I can attest to J. Payne's talents in this area. By the way, I'm a bit curious how can you simultaneously pastor a church, stay abreast on sundry issues (i.e. TSOP music) and consistently score 20 points per game for the Milwaukee Bucks? I thought Bo knew everything but I'm not sure :-) QED

-- Anonymous, January 09, 2002

While the example I am citing is not a Motown hit, I think it is one, which would make quite a sermon. I shall perhaps also use it in a future editorial for the Lay Newsletter, which I publish for the Episcopal District Lay.

The song to which I refer comes from the many famous ones of Atlanta's own, "Piano Red" whose real name was Willie Perryman. He had both his own radio show, played at private clubs and colleges, toured Europe, and recorded on major labels. Towards the end of his career he played at the world famous "Underground Atlanta."

Piano Red was also knows as "Dr. Feelgood" and claimed to heal more people with his music than any medical doctor in the world. Long before Motown or the Beatles, who did their own take on this song, Dr. Feelgood recorded his most famous hit song in 1952. It was entitled, "Wrong Yo Yo." This catchy tune ended with the words which I feel would make an excellent sermon. Even now I get excited when I repeat them and they say:

"You Got the Right String Baby, But the Wrong Yo Yo."

-- Anonymous, January 09, 2002

Robert, LOL Now that title, "You got the right string baby, but the wrong Yo Yo", is truly pregnant with hermeneutic possibilities. I'm sure if Vernon Byrd, Jr. reads that title song he will quickly put together a masterpiece sermon. QED

-- Anonymous, January 10, 2002

You guys are so funny, and nobody has mentioned their favorite Motown artist. My was the temptations, I loved Eddie Kendricks.

-- Anonymous, January 10, 2002

I know there is some deep-rooted character trait revealed in this response but that is alright.

As much as I cut my teeth on Motown, as many on this board apparently did (I am guessing we all are within a few years of one another in age), I always had a quiet-kept preference for the Stax- Volt sound that was proliferating simultaneously.

There was something about the more growling vocals, punched up horn-flavored instrumentation, and down-home, can't-keep-your-feet- from-moving rhythms of artists such as Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Sam and Dave that touched my more primal instincts.

I liked the string-flavored, more orchestrated Motown soul but when it came to "gettin' down" there was no beat like Stax/Volt and its stable of soul shouters, verus Motown crooners.

Now I am really out of the musical closet with that response.

Rev. John

-- Anonymous, January 10, 2002

Rev. John I was born in 1952 and my father loved the sound of stax he played it all the time. He had one other favorite Brook Benton, anyone remember him and of course Dinah Washington. I heard the same music all the time. So that when motown came out it was a fresh sound that was all mine. How could you not love the temptations, four tops, martha and the vandella. Am I the only one who loved Motown. If so I will hold the Diana Ross and the supremes banner high;-) One last think I am bringing Motown music to the A.M.E reunion.

-- Anonymous, January 10, 2002

This is a question for Jerryl Payne and other Hammond masters? What are some of your influences on the organ? Were you influenced solely by gospel music or has blues, jazz etc also been influence. Rev. John made me think of this question with his Stax sound. Thanks

-- Anonymous, January 10, 2002

We had five men sing the Temptations' version of "Silent Night" at Christmas Time.

You could use the O'Jays "Love Train" - People all over the world, join hands.......

Ooh oooh ooh......

"You and I must make a pact; We must bring salvation back; where there is love.....[EVERYBODY] I'll be there......."

If you use these ideas, send me an audio tape please :)

-- Anonymous, January 10, 2002

Thank you Rev. Harper, I knew there were some temptation lover's out there. God bless you. And "I wish it would rain, day in day out my tear stain face pressed against the pane." (the temptations) Rev. Harper I was crying, cause I thought I was the only Motown fan;-)

-- Anonymous, January 10, 2002

My sister Denise, I never said I was not a Motown fan...just that Stax/Volt shook and stirred me a little different on a more primal level I guess. In one of my musical incarnations, the last one before the ministry actually, I was the front man for a 12-piece horn band that played up and down the East Coast playing Motown and Stax/Volt. My favorites parts of the show were the Temptations medley and the tribute to Otis Redding, who I still consider in many ways my musical father. Of course, the other part of my upbringing was Mahalia and Rev. James Cleveland.

In regards to organists, jazz came before my r&b roots. And two musicians paved the path....Jimmy Smith on the organ and Mongo Santamaria on the congos with the salsa flavored jazz.

My tastes were and will continue to be ecclectic.

Rev. John

-- Anonymous, January 10, 2002

Rev. John as you know my background before becoming a minister is that of a professional actress and singer. Particularly jazz and blues. I did a lot of Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters etc. and one Bessie Smith Song that was a big hit in jazz festivals in Europe was Bessie Smith, "You got the right key but the wrong keyhole" another song that I dis was called "Squeeze me til my face turns bright cherry red!" Rev. John those were the days traveling on buses, planes and boats to do jazz shows. A moment I will never forget was when I was in Sicily performing in teramino in a Christian amphitheater. similar to the one in Rome, this particular amphitheater they also killed christians, anyway I began to sing amazing grace and I looked and one by one candles began to lit, and the people began to sing the song in english 15,000 people singing that song was amazing. We have to have a jam session at our reunion and I am glad you like the Motown sound.;-)

-- Anonymous, January 10, 2002

"Hammond" Organ Influences

My mother was becoming a jazz afficionado during my childhood years. As a result, I received a lot of exposure to Dave "Baby" Cortez, Jimmy Smith, Willis Jackson, Jimmy McGriff, and the "Great Scott", Gloria Scott.

I didn't realize how pervasive the Hammond was to Gospel until I heard the seminal album by James Cleveland and the Angelic Choir ("Peace Be Still.") At that point, I became aware of Billy Preston, and when I moved to Boston, became more influenced by church musicians, while continuing to listen to secular Hammond via War and Mandrill.

I would say my greatest church influences were Bro. Bill Marshall, a former St. Paul organist that grew up in the pentecostal church and now lives in California, whom I consider my organ mentor; Kenny Green of Holy Tabernacle Church (in Dorchester); Mark Redding, who was a student at either Berklee or New England Conservatory while serving as a musician at Grace Church; Sharon Johnson, who played for St. Paul while a student at BU (she has since gone on to record both solo and with TETREC choir); Rev. Anthony Vinson, who supported the choral workshops of Rev. Donald Vails when he came to Boston; Rev. Vernon Byrd, Jr., who supported St. Paul while he was a student at Harvard (although it is hard to remember his playing separate from his absolutely dulcet vocals); and Dennis Montgomery, another conservatory student and a player of incredible alacrity. Mark, Rev. Anthony and Dennis have all recorded with the Gospel Music Workshop of America, if memeory serves.

-- Anonymous, January 11, 2002

Last year our church was given a hammond organ. It is in storage until we have a building. I was wondering if most of our churches have hammond organs? And what makes a Hammond so special.

-- Anonymous, January 12, 2002

If you listen to Booker T & The MG's (Green Onions), then you will know what makes the Hammond B3 so special. Also, listen to the 5th Beatle Billy Preston on some of their hits (Let it Be, Get Back). We are in the process of purchasing a Hammond B3 for the church. I had the privilege of meeting Timmy Thomas ( a CME preacher's son) who is known for his playing ability. I can not recall the name of his hit in the early 70's, but he made the organ talk! And he is still playing for various churches and teaching in South Florida. Ray Allen

-- Anonymous, January 14, 2002

I too am a Temptations fan with David Ruffin being my favorite.  Dennis Edwards, the late Paul Williams and Melvin Franklin are tied for a close second.

In Excellence,

-- Anonymous, January 14, 2002

What makes a Hammond so special?

MMMMMmmmmmmm :)

First, there is the tone quality. It is a very unique tone, especially when coupled with a Leslie speaker. The original"Hammond" that we tend to speak of is one whose tones and pitches are created using a Tone Generator, kind of a long shaft in the body of the organ. This is the thing you hear spinning when the organ is running. It determines the pitches, which are then fed through tube amplifiers (another significant aspect), and that amplified signal is sent to a tone cabinet. The Lesie tone cabinet also adds warmth to the tone, based on the wood of its construction as well as the aural characteristics of its speakers. With horns for the high end and a durable woofer for the low end, the Leslie amp is accurate, ruggedly built, and reliable. A changeout of its tubes every 15-20 years and you're in good shape.

Use of the Leslie is also important. I noticed, when I first started watching Hammond practitioners, that they would often turn the Leslie on and off within the play of a piece. I didn't understand that at all, until I became one. In addition to its fundamental sound, the Leslie includes two tremolo actuators. The slower one is on the woofer, and is essentially a baffle that spins around the speaker. The higher one causes the two horns within the cabinet to spin. This leads to a very unique and identifiable sound. By flipping the tremolo switch on and off, one varies the rate of tremolo, and can create interesting intermediate speeds between the very fast tremolo and the absence of it.

Then there are the pitches themselves. The Hammond builds registration (the process of selecting tone combinations for a sound) through the use of mathematical fundamentals. In essence, the Hammond seeks to "recreate" the fundamental ranks of a flute-based pipe organ. Imagine a pipe organ that has only 9 stops, but these stops are based on the fundamentals of sound such that they cover the root sound, each of the three octaves above it, and some of the intermediate relationships (fifth, twelfth, seventeenth, etc.) By adjusting the amount of contribution of these overtones to the root sound, one has the ability to create a wide family of tones. On the Hammond, there are two sets of these adjustable stops, called drawbars, on each manual (keybpard played by hand). With a choice of 9 drawbars in each set, one can create a range of sounds from flute, to diapason (the true sound of a pipe organ) to reed, to string, to a combination of them all. it is this flexibility that really makes the Hammond appealing.

Finally, the Hammond is the closest thing there is to an organ "standard". All organs have certain fundamentals, but no one manufacturer ever approached the universality or commonality of its stop choices the way the Hammond did. And Hammond achieved this through a family of instruments. We often hear reference to the "B- 3", but there is also the A-100 (same organ with a built-in speaker in the cabinet), the C-3 (the same organ with ornate cabinetry that is suitable for a church), and the RT-3 (fundamentally the same organ, but with the addition of a radial pedal clavier that is extended to 32 pedals, contrasted with the 25 pedals of the other insruments).

Durability is another thing that makes these organs great. They are very reliable. Consider that Hammond stopped manufacturring the B-3 in the early 70s, yet people are still seeking them in the after-market.

In this short space it's hard to give a complete story of the great Hammond organ, but I hope this helps to show why so many have come to love this beautiful instrument.

-- Anonymous, January 15, 2002

Thanks for the explanation, it makes me appreciate the gift of an hammond organ even more. Wow! God loved our church so much that the first instrument that we received as a gift was a hammond!

-- Anonymous, January 15, 2002

Rev. Rodgers,

First of all, God bless you. I am a frequent reader of the AME-Today discussion board but have until now withheld any participation, but today I could not resist. I must assure you that as a Detroit resident the Motown sound is alive and well in the AME Church. I am a member of Oak Grove AME and a second year student in the Michigan Conference Board of Examiners. I am also blessed tho be the son of Duke Fakir, original member of the Four Tops and also a member of Oak Grove.

Rev. Rodgers I thank you and the other regular members of this forum for your spirit and your ability to discuss issues with love and respect for each other.

I am going to close with this: Remember the Four Tops first hit in 1964, " Reach Out, I'll be There"? Isn't that how God is ? If we reach out he'll be there.

Peace and Love.

Min. Nazim

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2002

Minister Fakir, you made my day! Yahoo! Two weeks ago I preached on Motown. My sermon title was called "The Motown Sound is God's Sound" I use the lectionary and preached from Isaiah 42. That particular passage talks about holding on, that in the midst of injustice God would raise up one who would provide justice. As my sermon illustration I talked about Berry Gordy and how his first business had failed and that his record business was his second attermpt. I framed my sermon against the backdrop of the korean war, segregation, the threat of russia dropping an A bomb on the U.S, the civil rights movement and Castro. And in the midst of these world events rooted solidly in acts of injustice, A sound that was so different rose up to touch people around the world, racial barriars were dropped when the Motown sound was heard, no one knew this sound would have such a powerful effect on the world but it did! I used that illustration to show how Jesus was born into a world of injustice and darkness and with him came light, miracles, hope and love. I even played some motown music in the service. They loved it! And it was fun after church sharing motown memories. Our church is multi-racial. And some of the members talked about being afraid as a child that russia would attack us, but the Motown sound provided Joy. I hope we will never forget the Motown Sound for it is our history. The four tops were my favorite group. Anyway I can get an autograph? And thanks for posting on the board. Thank you for your kind words. God is good all the time.

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2002

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