Marie Knight – The Gospel Truth Live
MC Records – 2018
20 tracks; 58 minutes
The late Marie Knight started early in her gospel career, singing as a child in church and traveling the country as soon as she left school. She married an evangelist preacher and worked with Sister Rosetta Tharpe extensively in the 50’s. Like many gospel singers she also recorded secular music but never really felt comfortable with the Rn’B sides she recorded in the 60’s and effectively retired to take a regular job and preach at weekends in Harlem. When MC records boss Mark Carpentieri was planning his tribute to Sister Rosetta he discovered that Marie was still alive and coaxed her into the studio to re-record “Didn’t It Rain”, one of the songs she recorded with Sister Rosetta. The result was so good that Mark encouraged Marie to record again and her tribute to Rev Gary Davis appeared in 2007. Sadly Marie passed away in 2009 but in this October 2007 show recorded in Massachusetts, at age 89, her voice and personality were still in great shape. Accompanied only by Dave Keyes on the piano, Marie’s voice soars through a selection of gospel tunes mainly from the Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Rev Gary Davis songbooks. Between songs Marie has the audience in the palm of her hands as she preaches the Lord’s word and introduces the songs she will be singing, often with a biographical detail about the original recordings. I know little about gospel music but it sounds like the audience on this date certainly did and they join in appreciatively when Marie strikes a chord in her introductions and clap along to almost every song here. With a straight-talking style mixed with humor, Marie’s personality shine through.
Some of Marie’s spoken messages are very moving, particularly when she describes getting the news that her Mother and two children had been killed just as she stepped on to the stage to perform, “to sing between tears”. Musical highlights include Marie’s interpretations of Sister Rosetta’s “Beams Of Heaven” and “Up Above My Head” and Rev Gary Davis’ “12 Gates To The City” on which Dave Keyes’ piano work is exceptional. Throughout the disc Dave gives great support and steps into the vocal spotlight on “Closer Walk With Thee” which affords Marie a short break before the finale of “For Thine Is The Kingdom”.
Fans of gospel music will want to add this one to their collection.