The irony was that minister and blues singer drank from the same well. Beneath the surface, gospel music and the blues are kissing cousins. Before he was saved, Thomas A. Dorsey, the composer of gospel’s best-known song, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” was Georgia Tom, whorehouse piano player and the composer of such smutty blues as “It’s Tight Like That,” a seven-million-selling hit in 1928. Blues and gospel were “the same feeling, a grasping of the heart,” said the erstwhile Georgia Tom. “Blues is as important to a person feeling bad as ‘Nearer My God to Thee.’ I’m not talking about popularity; I’m talking about inside the individual… When you cry out, that is something down there that should have come out a long time ago. Whether it’s blues or gospel, there is a vehicle that comes along maybe to take it away or push it away.”

On Aretha Franklin’s father,The Man with the Million-Dollar Voice”, C.L. Franklin.

More Reads

Close Read: Thiago Rodrigues-Oliveira, et al.

Veronique Greenwood

Take the W: Entry Points

Katie Heindl

Believer Radio

Claire Mullen