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Album Review

The new jack-meets-gospel production style of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis helped Sounds of Blackness place three singles ("Optimistic," "The Pressure," "Testify") from 1991's Evolution of Gospel high on the pop charts, and truthfully, that album still stands as the best introduction to the Sounds of Blackness collective. Which is not meant to disparage anthologies such as this one, which collects all three of the big hits as well as interesting revisits to Sly Stone's "You Can Make It if You Try" and Gamble & Huff's "Love Train," but as a group dedicated to presenting the full spectrum of African-American music, Sounds of Blackness got it exactly right on Evolution of Gospel. Start there.


Formed: 1969 in St. Paul, MN

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Sounds of Blackness, a 40-person choir and ten-piece orchestra led by Gary Hines, combined traditional African music with urban soul to become one of the most distinctive and popular contemporary gospel groups. Over the course of their career, the group won many awards, from organizations as diverse as the Grammies and the NAACP. Russel Knight formed the group that would prove to be the origins of Sounds of Blackness in 1969 at St. Paul, Minnesota's Macalester College. It wasn't until 1971, when...
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The Collection, Sounds of Blackness
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