(1951-56 'United') (64:58/24) ROBERT ANDERSON & THE CARAVANS, REV. ROBERT BALLINGER, THE LITTLE LUCY SMITH SINGERS, SINGING SAMMY LEWIS.
United's gospel catalog was lean but prime. During the '50s, Chicago was gospel's capital, its Vatican and Mecca, home turf of its pioneer exponents, Thomas A. Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson and Roberta Martin. By then the music had flourished for at least twenty years; it was old enough to possess its own conventions and stylistic traits, new enough to still sound fresh. The singers included on this CD were among Chicago's most innovative and eclectic. By 1951 Robert Anderson was Chicago's leading male soloist, easily Mahalia's equal in popularity or influence. Robert Ballinger's later recordings became minor hits and caused a sensation among lovers of blues piano. Lucy Smith also played piano; she spent several years accompanying the Martin Singers on records and James Cleveland derived his piano technique from her. Lucy's singing and lead vocalist Gladys Beamon Gregory's performances are a testament to the glory of Chicago gospel.