Even during the days of Segregated radio, one thing everyone could agree on was; gettin’ right with God was everybody’s business. And so this show featuring legendary Spirit Of Memphis Quartet – was a daily broadcast, every morning over radio station WDIA in Memphis Tennessee. Spirit of Memphis were one of the most popular and influential Gospel groups in the U.S. – begun in the late 1920’s whose name was a take on the name of Charles Lindbergh‘s famous plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, the plane which took Lindbergh on the first cross-the-Atlantic flight in 1928. All through the 1930s and the war years of the 1940s, Spirit of Memphis were the leading Gospel group throughout the South, frequently appearing on local radio stations and beginning a prolific recording career. But they also sang outside the context of Gospel, doing secular vocals for everything from radio commercials to singing salesmen.
The sound of The Spirit Of Memphis has often been pointed to as the prototype for what became the Doo-Wop style of vocals in the early days of Rock n’ Roll. They achieved national prominence in 1947 as they signed their first major record label deal: With the legendary King Records.
This broadcast, from December 16, 1949 was part of a daily program which went from 7:00 am to 9:00 am and another program on Saturday nights did much to establish a broad popularity for the group which only increased throughout the 1950s. The original members of the group had most all passed away by the early 1990s, but a version of The Spirit Of Memphis surfaced in the early 2000’s.
Needless to say, listening to this broadcast, you have no doubt how influential Gospel Music was during the early days of Rock n’ Roll. The legacy is rich and all-inclusive. You may want to do a little exploring on your own after you’ve finished with this 15 minutes.