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Pilgrim Travelers

The Area of expertise label’s most prolific gospel act, the Pilgrim Travelers were being among the most successful and influential sets of gospel’s golden era; famed because of their distinctive “strolling rhythm” audio, they also gained renown because of their riotous live shows and breathless showmanship. The Pilgrim Travelers had been shaped in Houston through the early ’30s by Joe Johnson and Willie Davis; the latter relocated the group to LA in 1942, acquiring with him cousins Kylo Turner and Keith Barber. By middle-1945, their rates included bass Raphael Taylor in addition to J.W. Alexander, a light tenor and onetime semi-pro football participant with Negro group teams like the Ethiopian Clowns and the brand new Orleans Crescent Celebrities; he quickly assumed managerial control of the group aswell. Like other sets of the time, the Pilgrim Travelers consciously modeled their audio after the Spirit Stirrers as well as the Golden Gates; although Turner was normally a baritone, he sang inside a note-bending falsetto design not far taken off pop crooning, while his co-lead Barber possessed a real, sweet voice along with a flamboyant stage existence. To provide the Travelers an advantage on your competition, Alexander forced his companions to hone a firmly choreographed live display which, over time, became progressively frenetic, much towards the delight of the numerous women going to their shows. In early 1947, the group produced their first recordings, issuing singles on a small number of small L.A. brands; by the finish of the entire year they authorized to Specialty, of which period they induced board a fresh baritone, Jesse Whitaker, to displace Davis. Following a couple of a cappella tunes, the Travelers started recording their materials with a mike picking right up the audio of the percussive foot-tapping; Specialty’s early press for the group proclaimed “Something New — Strolling Tempo Spirituals,” and the initial audio quickly captured on with customers. In 1948, the group released six singles; after simply three the next 12 months, in 1950 Niche released a minimum of ten Pilgrim Travelers edges, all of these to solid sales (especially “Jesus Met the girl in the Well” and “Mom Bowed”). However, in the peak of the achievement, Barber was involved with a 1950 car crash which remaining his tone of voice ravaged; at exactly the same time, the introduction from the Spirit Stirrers’ Sam Cooke produced Turner’s vocal design appear significantly outdated, and apparently over night, the group’s fortunes begun to wane. Within the years to check out, lineup adjustments plagued the Pilgrim Travelers aswell — in 1954 Taylor was changed by bass George McCurn, and by the center of the 10 years, both Turner and Barber got exited; by enough time of the 1956 demise, the ensemble got documented over 100 tracks. A afterwards incarnation of the group, dubbed basically the Travelers, included Lou Rawls, but was in any other case unremarkable. In 1959, Alexander teamed with Sam Cooke to discovered SAR Records; the brand new company attemptedto relaunch Turner’s profession, however in the transferring years, the vocalist got succumbed to alcoholism, and he found its way to Los Angeles as well drunk to get into the studio room. He eventually came back to Tx, where he passed away a couple of years after his cousin Barber; Whitaker retired to his family members farm in NJ, while Alexander continued to be a sought-after manufacturer and manager.

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