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The Soul Stirrers

Indisputably among the premier gospel groups of the modern era, the Soul Stirrers pioneered the contemporary quartet sound. Pushing the music away from the traditional repertoire of jubilees and spirituals towards the visceral, deeply emotional hard gospel style so popular among postwar listeners, the group's innovative arrangements -- they were the first quartet to add a second lead -- and sexually charged presence irrevocably blurred the lines between religious and secular music while becoming a seminal influence on the development of rock & roll and soul, most notably by virtue of their connection to the legendary Sam Cooke. The Soul Stirrers' origins date back to 1926, where in the town of Trinity, TX, baritone Senior Roy Crain formed a quartet with a number of other teens with whom he attended church. After one of the group's early appearances, a member of the audience approached Crain to tell him how their performance had "stirred his soul," and from this chance compliment the Soul Stirrers were officially born.

The original group fell apart soon after, but Crain continued to pursue a singing career; upon relocating to Houston during the early '30s, he joined a group called the New Pleasant Green Singers on the condition that they change their name to the Soul Stirrers. So rechristened, this incarnation of the quartet made a 1936 field recording for Alan Lomax; as other members dropped out, Crain brought in replacements, finally arriving at the classic early lineup which also included bass Jesse Farley, baritone T.L. Bruster, second lead James Medlock, and, most notably, lead R.H. Harris, whose high, crystalline voice remains the inspiration for virtually all great male quartet leads to follow since. After moving to Chicago, the Soul Stirrers began shifting away from the signature tight harmonies and compact songs of traditional gospel towards a harder style distinguished by shifting leads and performances elongated to increase their emotional potency; they also began performing new material from the pens of Thomas A. Dorsey, Kenneth Morris, and others.

Throughout the 1940s, the Soul Stirrers' reputation grew; not only were they constantly on tour, but they booked most of the major gospel programs in the Chicago area -- in their spare hours, they even operated their own cleaning business. When the grind got to be too much for Medlock, he retired from the road, and was replaced by onetime Golden Echo Paul Foster. In early 1950, the Soul Stirrers signed to the Specialty label, debuting with the single "By and By"; it was quickly followed by "I'm Still Living on Mother's Prayer" and "In That Awful Hour," both originals composed by Detroit's Reuben L.C. Henry. In total, the Soul Stirrers recorded over two dozen tracks for Specialty in 1950 before Harris quit the group that same year; many predicted a dire future, especially when it was announced that his replacement was a relatively unknown 20-year-old named Sam Cooke. When Cooke made his recording debut with the Soul Stirrers in 1951, however, any reservations were quickly dispelled -- blessed with a gossamer voice even sweeter and more graceful than Harris', he would take the group to even greater heights than before.

The first Soul Stirrers 78 to feature Cooke, "Jesus Gave Me Water," was a major hit, and with his good looks the young singer made an instant impact with female audiences, in the process becoming the gospel circuit's first sex symbol. The group's popularity continued to soar, but as the Soul Stirrers entered their third decade, the daily grind began to wear on its members, and soon Bruster retired; he was replaced by baritone Bob King, who also doubled as a guitarist, becoming their first-ever steady instrumentalist. In 1954, the Soul Stirrers briefly added Julius Cheeks to their roster; after lending his raspy vocals to a recording of "All Right Now," however, contractual obligations forced him to exit almost as quickly as he arrived. In 1956, Cooke finally crossed over to the pop market, and was replaced by ex-Highway QC Johnnie Taylor; while Taylor himself would also enjoy pop success in the years to follow, he failed to command the same devotion as his predecessor. Lineup changes continued regularly in the years to follow, but the Soul Stirrers forged on, with new, younger members keeping the group afloat into the 1990s. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Yes lord. He's my guide. Amen.
SA. Cook brings back so .many memories of my mother singing an cooking In the kitchen.Love an miss you..mom Baja as fat.
Sam Cook & the Soul Stirrers is the greatest
Great song love this one!!!!!
the blind boys are asome
peggydavis20
Great gospel music.
They don,t make them like this anymore!!!
Best of all time love this man no homo
Long live The Soul Stirrers. 14y 1m
lrabb3
GLORY BE TO GOD!!!
which tunes feature former Soul Stirrer Lou Rawls?
Awrgy
yeah this isnt Johnnie Taylor...If you're a Johhnie fan you know his voice. This version is nice, but the JT version pulls at my heart strings...
I don't know who this TENAMOSS fool is, but that's not JOHNNIE TAYLOR leading in God Is Standing By. That's WILLIE ROGERS.How I know this, quite simple,he's my UNCLE.
Johnny Taylor
tenamoss
That is not Sam Cooke singing lead vocals on this track. That is Johnnie Taylor doing lead vocals. Although Johnnie did sing with The Soul Stirrers for a period of time.
ldavisjr61
My wife and I Love to listen to this group over and over!
dnice.dk
Itz good for the soul....
This is real singing it really touches the soul.
I remember singing with my mom in the car. I know all the words. Everywhere she would take me we would have church
I love and enjoy Sam Cook and the Soul Stirrers .

uneekbree
i love sam cooke and the soul stirrers *VERA*
This was one of my favorite spirtual groups.
classic's never go old, gospel at it's finest.
I Love this Music thank God for them.
marvieb41
This is the music I grew up with, as much apart of me as my heart.
I like the soul stirrers with Sam Cooke and MArtin Jacobb
i love Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers. Ilove the Soul Stirrers' method of gospel singing.
robertcue55
no one can come close to Sam Cooke when singing gospel music
retropat
This is the real deal!
this is the type gospel music that truly moves my soul,brings back so many memories as a youth,when we listen to gospel music on the radio
bridget972
I LOVE THIS MUSIC ITS BRINGS ME TO PEACE
I LIKE this!
rewards1952
this is what music is about!!!
harris5399
This is it!!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! !
mstra_c
WHEN I WAS YOUNG GIRL, MY GRANDMOTHER( rest in peace) would play and sing this song.I love you Grandma..mis s u dearly
hobo3121
When I was a kid, one of my earliest memories of gospel music was hearing Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers sing 'Listen To the Angels' (?)
I lOVE THIS MUSIC!
good song.
bodom2
THIS TYPE OF SINGING IS A FOUNDATION OF WHERE SOME OF THE MUSIC WE HAVE NOW CAME FROM. THIS WAS TRULY MUSIC FROM THE HEART AND SOUL....
Not sure how you can describe them in sexual terms, they are gospel, not some gutter mtv group.
They do indeed stir the soul.......
I love them!
john.perlste i n
Great sound and blend of voices, and what a thrill to hear the early amazing Sam Cooke
paden57
fantastic gospel
wow. thank you.
hrichardson0 0 8
I LOVE THE ARTISTS. THEY THRILL MY SOLE.
wow.
that link is?
one of the lords elite
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