gospel music

Rev. Osagyefo Sekou and Jay-Marie Hill pose for a portrait. The two wrote 11 songs together in six days just days after meeting at a demonstration.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The pulpit, streets full of protesters and a recording studio don’t have much in common.  But for the Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, these three environments offer the chance to spread a gospel of equality.

“What are the ways that we’re going to wrestle with saving the democracy? Music can do that; the pulpit can do that; and engaging in the rich tradition of civil disobedience can do that,” said Sekou.

Marquise Knox at the Reykjavik Blues Festival in 2011
Olikristinn | Wikipedia

When the funk comes to St. Louis, it sounds a lot like the blues. The city is known for blues and jazz, not the classic funk sounds of James Brown and George Clinton. Art Dwyer plays with the Soulard Blues Band and says funk isn’t easily defined. For him funk is a visceral reaction.

Davie Lee
Provided by the family

Davie White’s father thought his son was a conscientious student who liked rising early to get ready for school. Often, Davie would be up and half-dressed when his father awoke. Andrew White didn’t realize that he was catching his son undressing for bed after a nightclub gig.

“He would sneak out and would just be coming in,” laughed his wife, Lou White. “So, he would have to get dressed again and go to school without any sleep.”

Adam Bielawski / via Wikimedia Commons

Despite a musical career that has spanned decades and provided inspiration for the civil rights movement, until recently the only information available about the Staple Singers was from interviews, articles and songs.

A new biography by Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot changes all that by providing the back story of the musical family in book form for the first time. With a nod to two hit songs, the book is titled “I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom’s Highway.”