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The Harmonizing Four

One of the top gospel quartets of the postwar era, the Harmonizing Four were also a relative anomaly of the period; as their contemporaries raced to modernize their sound, rejecting the traditional jubilee style in favor of the intensity of the burgeoning "hard gospel" movement, the Four remained true to their roots, focusing instead on the spirituals and hymns of a time gone by. For all of their renown, little is known about the group's formative years -- their leader and manager, Joseph "Gospel Joe" Williams, forbade any of the members to agree to interviews unless they were paid in advance, and as a result, the anecdotal information that does exist is sketchy and incomplete. Records have indicated that the Four made their formal debut at a grammar school in their native Richmond, VA on October 27, 1927; founding members included Thomas "Goat" Johnson and Levi Handly, with Williams signing on in 1933 and Lonnie Smith -- the father of jazz pianist Lonnie Liston Smith -- joining four years later.

The Harmonizing Four made their recorded debut on Decca in 1943; in all likelihood they came to the label at the behest of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whom they frequently backed both on record and in concert. After World War II, they landed on the tiny Coleman label; included in the roster during much of this period was Tommy Ellison, later of the Chosen Gospel Singers. A brief tenure on Gotham followed, and after 1952, the Harmonizing Four cut only one record, a single for the Religious Recordings label, prior to arriving at Vee-Jay in 1957. There, the group -- Williams, Smith, Thomas Johnson, and Jimmy Jones -- finally began earning the fame long due them, honing their close harmony style to mellow perfection; Jones, in particular, earned renown as perhaps the greatest basso in gospel history, his canyon-deep voice distinguishing hits like "Motherless Child." After leaving Vee-Jay during the early '60s, the Harmonizing Four recorded for Nashboro, slowly easing into retirement in the years that followed. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Faith In Our Lord: The Best Of Gospel

Disc 1

2. We Shall Be Free

3. Move Up A Little Higher

4. God's Love

5. Let Me Lean On You

6. Use Me Lord

7. It Pays To Serve Jesus

8. What A Blessing In Jesus I've Found

10. Come To Jesus Right Now

11. I'm Just Another Soldier

12. Old Time Religion

Disc 2

1. When The Lord Gets Ready (You Got To Move)

2. My God, My Freedom, My Home

4. Precious Lord

5. How Do You Feel

6. Yes God Is Real

7. He's My Friend

8. Strength, Power & Love

10. Somewhere To Lay My Head

11. Lord Jesus

12. Prayer & Amazing Grace

x

Track List: Le Gospel (1939-1952)

Disc 1

1. Rock My Soul

2. Downward Road

3. Prodigal Son

5. Give Me That Old Time Religion

8. The Storm Is Passing Over

9. Take Thy Burden To The Lord

10. Down Here, Lord, Waiting On You

11. All God's Chillun Got Shoes

12. Swing Low Sweet Chariot

13. Gospel Train

14. God Moves On The Water

18. I Saw The Light

19. God's Mighty Hand

22. O' Jesus, Let Me Ride

23. The Mighty Number

24. Jesus Is My Only Friend

Disc 2

2. How Far Am I From Canaan

3. Will He Welcome Me Here

4. I Know I've Been Changed

5. Stop Right Now

6. Calvary

7. Well, Well - Don't Worry About Me

8. Jesus Gave Me Water

9. I Love The Lord

10. I Want Jesus On The Road I Travel

11. Step By Step

12. Blood Done Signed My Name

13. Packing Every Burden

14. Get Right With God

15. Before This Time Another Year

18. My Rock

19. Since Jesus Came Into My Heart

20. Something Within Me

21. My Life Is In His Hands

22. Atlanta's Tragic Monday

23. Good Religion

24. Jesus Is Listening

Disc 3

1. Sin Is To Blame

2. Milky White Way

3. The Florida Storm

4. In The Upper Room Part I

5. In The Upper Room Part II

7. Show Me The Way

8. My Soul Is A Witness

10. Stand By Me

11. Don't Want To Go There

12. Building On The Good Shore

13. I'm A Pilgrim Traveler

14. That Great Judgement Day

15. How I Got Over

17. Get Right With God

18. Count Your Blessings

19. Great Day

20. Didn't It Rain

21. Jesus

22. The Tree Of Life

23. I'll Never Turn Back

24. Nobody's Fault But Mine

x

Track List: Testify! The Gospel Box

Disc 1

1. Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition

2. Stalin Wasn't Stallin'

3. Milky White Way

4. Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around

6. Just A Closer Walk With Thee

8. Too Close To Heaven

9. Let's Go Out To The Programs

10. Amazing Grace

12. Somewhere To Lay My Head

14. All Things Are Possible

15. Didn't It Rain

17. Precious Lord

18. Mary Don't You Weep

Disc 2

1. Mighty High

2. Oh Happy Day

3. Lord, Don't Move The Mountain

6. I Go To The Rock

8. No Charge

11. How I Got Over

12. Walk Around Heaven All Day

13. Strange Man

Disc 3

1. Show Up!

3. Spread Love

4. Tomorrow

6. Be Encouraged

7. A Message For The Saints

8. I Believe

9. Deep River/Campground

10. How I Depend On You

12. Order My Steps

13. The Battle Is The Lord's

14. Dear God

x

Track List: The Gospel Truth

1. Rock Of Ages

2. Lord Will Make A Way

3. I Believe He Died For Me

4. Hallelujah

5. Peace Among The Nations

7. It Pays To Serve Jesus

8. When The Gates Swing Open

9. Will The Circle Be Unbroken

10. Amazing Grace

13. Wine Is Running Out

x

Track List: The Kings & Queens Of Gospel

Disc 1

1. Morning Train

3. I'm Going With Jesus

4. Yes God Is Real

5. Run To Jesus

6. Jesus Prays

7. I'm Going Down In Jesus' Name

9. Serving The Lord

10. Born Again

12. Move Up A Little Higher

Disc 2

1. Lord Jesus

2. Holy Spirit

3. It Pays To Serve Jesus

4. Move Up A Little Higher

7. Hold On

8. Lord Bring Me Down

9. Glory Glory

10. My God, My Freedom, My Home

13. God So Loved The World

x

Track List: Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection

Disc 1

2. Baby, It's You

3. Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite

4. Ain't Times Hard

5. You Don't Have To Go

6. Blue Evening

7. I Wish You Would

8. At My Front Door

9. Hurt My Feelings

10. Bad Boy

11. Somewhere To Lay My Head

13. Fool's Prayer

14. Oop De Oop

15. I'll Be Forever Loving You

16. Ain't That Lovin' You Baby

18. Up On The Mountain

19. Big Town Playboy

20. Rock 'n' Roll Mama

21. Oh What A Nite

Disc 2

1. Dimples

2. The Telephone Is Ringing

3. Judgment Day

4. Uncloudy Day

6. Mother's Son

8. Honest I Do

9. Farther Along

10. You Can Make It If You Try

11. It Hurts Me Too

14. Blues Get Off My Shoulder

15. For Your Precious Love

16. Pigtails And Blue Jeans

17. I Love You Honey

18. Leave You In The Hands Of The Lord

19. Nobody But You

20. Shombalor

21. Crying For My Baby

Disc 3

1. Mary Don't You Weep

2. Steppin' Out

3. Just A Little Bit

5. Will You Ever Be Mine

6. Will The Circle Be Unbroken

7. Easy Lovin'

8. No Shoes

9. Oh Baby

10. He Will Break Your Heart

11. Exodus

12. Big Boss Man

13. Raindrops

14. Every Beat Of My Heart

15. Old Ship Of Zion

16. Bright Lights, Big City

17. Nite Owl

18. Duke Of Earl

19. Real Gone Mama

21. Boom Boom

Disc 4

1. I'm A Woman

2. Make It Easy On Yourself

3. Sherry

4. Rainbow

7. Body Surf

8. You're No Good

10. The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)

11. Steal Away

12. Have I The Right

13. Let It Be Me

14. Bring Your Lovin'

15. Getting Mighty Crowded

16. Walk Around Heaven All Day

17. Tainted Love

18. Billy's Bag

19. Stay In My Corner

20. Oo Wee Baby, I Love You

21. Let's Do It Over

22. I Don't Know What You've Got But It's Got Me

Comments

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elprinz6
The harmonizing four are the best gospel group I've ever heard in my life.
Report as inappropriate
The harmonizing four is one of a lifetime groups of all tlme
Report as inappropriate
Jimmy Jones one of the great bass singers that ever lived could sing hard gospel lead to

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