The Famous Davis Sisters

The Davis Sisters The Famous Davis Sisters LP (Savoy, 1962)

Digging for records in San Francisco is good for a number of reasons. First is that the town is very musically literate, which means there are good records to be found. Second is that the Bay Area has had some of the best new and used record stores ever which means there are good records to be found. And third is that the town is so damn trendy which means there is always something that the casual music fan passes up. Here is an example: Late last Summer, my girlfriend and I are walking from the St Francis Soda Fountain (owned by a childhood buddy of mine and very much recommended) and we come upon a yard sale. I see a lady looking at records and immediately get that "Fuck, too late" pit in the gut. The woman is dressed in the latest hipster fashion and is making a nice stack of records, with intent. I slide next to her and motion toward a box. She nods an assent, she has already gone through it. I take a look at the pile she has created: Captain & Tennille, The Carpenters, Seals & Croft, etc. Essentially she is creating a pile of shit. I warm inside. Later I am told that the latest trend among the hip and the dumb is Yacht Rock. The youngsters gather in bars, drink, and finding fuckables to smooth sounds of the Seventies. Martinis to Muskrat Love: My anus feels frozen. So, while this lady is gobbling up poop, I flip through a box of records and the first good record I find is The Famous Davis Sisters! Dig some more and my five minute detour has netted me five terrific Black gospel records, all in pretty good condition. I used to get annoyed by trendies, but not if they are gonna leave fantastic records like this one laying around.

The Davis Sisters were from Philadelphia and are one of the "first first female groups to sing hard gospel." They were not only groundbreaking but a incubator for great gospel singers. Of their graduates was the great Jackie Verdell. Unfortunately, the group, who were one of the most popular at the time, kept losing great singers and were later met by tragedy. One of the sisters died in a flaming automobile accident and group leader Ruth Davis, died of heart and liver failure after a long, painful fight with diabetes.

I am sure when you hear the Davis Sisters, you will instantly know the answer to the question "Love Will Keep Us Together or Earnestly Praying?"

Correction... Here's My Heart and I Want You To Move both link to Here's My Heart. I Want You To Move is missing....

The Davis Sisters are great. I love the sound of a singer pinning the VU needles in the red. I don't know if that was intentional on the part of the recording engineer, or if it is a result of setting the levels, and when the singer does the take for the recording, they sing more powerfully than during the level check. Time is short, and the take was good enough, and they don't want to do it again. \
In any event, great gospel goodness. Thanks.
Thanks for the speedy link repair. I couldn't find anything about the backing musician's, but the organist sounds something like Billy Preston. But, I suspect that there were quite a few church keyboard players that had that style, but chose not to pursue fame and glory (and money, and drugs, dying young, etc.).

This was a great find. But how can you go on, without your own copy of the Capt. and Tenille? I assume you were able to snag all the Bread albums before anyone else found them...
With gospel recordings, it is really hard to find out who the musicians were. Rarely was the information recorded unless the group doing the recording was based in a church. At the time of these recording, the Davis Sisters were independent so they either used a pick up band or one in which the membership changed or a studio band. Most of the songs they did were standards and the arrangements were easy to get: One or two run throughs and any good gospel musician could have done the music.

The nameless, undocumented backing musician is pretty much the case with nearly all early Black and working class White music recordings outside of some jazz musicians and a few family bands, like the Carter Family. It wasnt until musicians unions that many of the people playing on sessions got their names written in a place (like a ledger) where a musicologist could later reference.
I hope that trend doesn't catch on over this side of the pond. Unless they are leaving the good stuff for me of course. It may mean that for a limited time that stuff is worth money and you could clean up. But that would be dirty money ;-)
Oh yeah, great gospel tracks. What a voice!
The piano player for The Famous Davis Sisters was Curtis Dubin. He died in an automobile accident in 1963. I do not recall one of the sisters dying in a flaming car crash, but one of the backup singers, Leila Dargon did burn to death in a house fire in the 1980's
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