Southern Journey, Vol. 11 - Honor the Lamb: The Belleville A Cappella Choir

Rounder Records

African-American spirituals sung in the richly textured and tightly harmonized style of the Belleville A Cappella Choir of the Church of God and Saints in Christ, a Virginia-based church tracing its lineage to the lost tribes of Israel. At the wish of their founder Prophet Crowdy, the choir assimilated elements of university-trained black choirs such as the Fisk Jubilee Singers, as well as aspects of later jubilee and modern gospel styles. Although their singing conforms to conventional art-music harmony, all songs and their parts have always been transmitted orally and sung without written text or notation, creating a spontaneous “folk” feeling even in their most complex pieces.

“I myself have heard no group which combines in such an engaging way a repertoire of fresh and thoroughly inspired songs, a conventional choral technique, and which at the same time has not lost the rhapsodic, swinging style which ennobles and enlivens American Negro folk music.” —Alan Lomax, 1961