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“I want to go, Lord, I want to go, I want to go there, too.”

December 5, 2011 \pm\31 12:14 pm

Modern country music essentially was born in the summer of 1927.  From July 25 – August 5, the Victor Talking Music Company set up equipment in a warehouse in the city of Bristol on the Tennessee/Virginia border.  There the company recorded rural musicians from those states, as well as North Carolina, West Virginia and Kentucky, musicians who committed to 78 RPM discs songs, ballads, hymns and dance tunes with titles like “The Dying Girl’s Farewell,” “Are You Washed in the Blood?” and “Cold Penitentiary Blues.”

Victor recorded 19 singers and string bands.  The importance of the 1927 Bristol sessions lies in two names: Jimmy Rodgers and the Carter Family.  The songs they recorded were their commercial debuts, and their legacies are, of course, incalculable.

Among the other acts that traveled to the State Street warehouse were Ernest Phipps and His Holiness Quartet.  Phipps was a preacher at the Free Holiness Pentecostal Church around Corbin, Kentucky.  The six songs he and his group laid down in 1927 represent some of the first recordings of white gospel singing.  Phipps and an expanded group,  called His Holiness Singers, recorded another six in a subsequent session in Bristol the following year.

Listening to his recordings, I have to imagine that Rev. Phipps led some pretty wild prayer meetings.  This is no prim Sunday school music.  These folks were stomping with the Lord.  Check out “I Want to Go Where Jesus Is.”  To my ears, the song has as much rock ‘n’ roll in it as Let It Bleed.  Shout “Hallelujah” and enjoy!

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