SA Issue 1: The Gospel Issue

Welcome to Issue One of Sound American! There is a simple process that will inform each issue of Sound American. First we take a simple idea or concept - perhaps a specific part of a composer’s work or a trope that exists in multiple artistic and musical configurations – and then we make connections to topics directly or intuitively related. It is our hope that this way of working will give a feeling of depth to each issue as well as inspiring you, the reader, to search out new ways of experiencing music. In our first issue, we apply this process to Ben Hall’s lovingly curated collection of Gospel 45s and LPs. Our way of working leads us to think about the person who collected the vinyl, the culture that made the music, and the specific sociological properties of collecting. While the center of this issue is the rich heritage of this African American religious music in the late 20th century, the real crux is thinking: the joy of thinking, and taking that joy to the street. We are very proud to feature the contributions of one of our favorite novelists, Rick Moody in this inaugural release. Rick, inside and outside of his writing, is a proselytizer for experimental and folk music forms. He's worked with DRAM - and specifically with the Ben Hall Gospel Archive* - since we received the first recordings, and was kind enough to provide us with an insightful and personal recollection of his early experiences with gospel music in his essay, Gospel for Beginners. That would be more than enough from a man with Rick’s pedigree, but he also shared some of his own favorite music (among which is a surprising propensity for the long form and minimalism) for the precursor to The Listeners series (which we will begin to feature in SA13). Also in this issue is an insightful interview with the man that brings the good word to us in the first place. Ben Hall is, perhaps, the last great American dreamer, who has been garnering attention and praise for his iconoclastic drumming in such groups as Graveyards, New Monuments, and the Joe Morris Quartet as well as becoming a force in the visual art world. He is a reluctant but powerful voice for Detroit's revitalization and preservation, and one of a handful of personalities in the early 21st century that could honestly be encumbered with the title "renaissance man". Along with Rick Moody's interview, Ben has been kind enough to make his own gospel mix-tape of material not found in the DRAM archive or at his own site Sound American's editor, Nate Wooley, takes up a third perspective of the Ben Hall Gospel Archive by writing an essay on the psychology and importance of archiving through the eyes of the collector. Using Jean Baudrillard's brilliant work on the idea of collecting and the ritualization of turning something to be merely used into something that can be lovingly possessed, he lightly unravels why we, as music fans, collect. We are also elated to include a gallery of some of our favorite gospel LP covers from the archive, most of which we don't have room to present in DRAM's collection. The visual and the tactile, as any record collector will tell you, is an integral part of the listening experience, and it has killed us to not be able to post every single record cover from this collection in DRAM. Welcome to our first issue. We hope you enjoy it. We hope it makes you think and want to think. We hope it helps you to love music even more. That’s all we hope.

Bobby Jones and the New Life; There Is Hope For This World

Brother Joe May: So Much To Talk About

Ezekiel Saw De Wheel

Jesus Hits Like An Atom Bomb

Rev. Willie E. Johnson: Stand By

Rev. W.L. Jones: Black and Proud, Part 2

Ron Carter: Meet Me There

Sammy Bryant: He Knows How Much We Can Bare