The Soul Stirrers, .

From You Tube – “I Will Run” and “I’m A Soldier”

One of my most played songs on my iPod is the Soul Stirrers “When The Gates Swing Open”.

From Wikipedia:

“One of the popular and influential gospel groups of the 20th Century, the Soul Stirrers were pioneers in the development of the quartet style of gospel and , without intending it, in the creation of soul music, the secular music that owed so much to gospel.

The group was formed by Roy Crain, who had launched his first quartet, which sang in jubille, in 1926 in Trinity, Texas. In the early 1930s, after Crain moved to Houston, he joined an existing group on the condition that it change it’s name to “The Soul Stirrers”.  Among the members of that group was R.H. Harris, who soon became its musical leader.

Harris, also from Trinity, Texas, brought several changes to the Soul Stirrers that effected gospel quartet singing generally.  He used a falsetto style that may have its antecedents in African music.  He pioneered the “swing lead”, in which two singers would share the job of leading the song, allowing virtuoso singers to increase the emotional intensity of the song as the lead passed between them.  That innovation led the Soul Stirrers, while still called a quartet, to acquire five members; later groups would have as many as seven but sill consider themselves “quartets”, which referred more to their style than their numbers.

The Soul Stirrers made other important changes in those years: ad-libbing lyrics, singing in delayed time, and repeating words in the background as both a rhythmic and emotional support for the lead singers. The Soul Stirrers dropped the “flatfooted” style of jubilee quartets before them and expanded their repertoire from spirituals and traditional hymns to the newer gospel compositions. The group also loosened the rigid arrangements that jubilee quartets had favored to permit individual singers within the group more space for individual development.