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How Sweet It Was: The Sights and Sounds of Gospel's Golden Age [CD+DVD]

Marion WilliamsAudio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Price: $29.73 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Amazon Price New from Used from
MP3 Music, 26 Songs, 2010 $9.49  
Audio CD, CD+DVD, 2010 $29.73  

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Frequently Bought Together

How Sweet It Was: The Sights and Sounds of Gospel's Golden Age + Nuggets of Golden Age of Gospel 1945-1958
Price for both: $54.71

Buy the selected items together
  • Nuggets of Golden Age of Gospel 1945-1958 $24.98

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 20, 2010)
  • Original Release Date: April 20, 2010
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD+DVD
  • Label: Shanachie
  • ASIN: B003813LEK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,556 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

The Bradford, Rosetta Tharpe, Marion Williams, Soul Stirrers, Sensational Nightingales and more. The sounds on the 26-track CD cover the '40s to the '60s and pair unissued tracks with prime performances by Mahalia Jackson, Rosetta Tharpe, Swan Silvertones, Clara Ward, Soul Stirrers, Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Dixie Hummingbirds, Marion Williams and more gospel kings and queens!

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Long Time Coming---And Well Worth the Wait. May 24, 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
In perhaps his most diverse gospel compilation to date, producer and gospel scholar Anthony Heilbut presents a satisfying panorama of the Golden Age of Gospel with this CD/DVD/Booklet package including some of the most passionate music America ever produced. Though the window of what is considered Black gospel's "Golden Age" is small, an all-too-brief fifteen years, the various soloists, groups and quartets peopling its story are large in number and broad in style. How Sweet It Was has the best-loved gospel Divas: Clara Ward, Marion Williams, Mahalia Jackson, Dorothy Love Coates, Rosetta Tharpe; the quartets, from the polished jubilee inspirations of Ira Tucker and the Dixie Hummingbirds to the hard, unapologetic squalling of Archie Brownlee and the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. Female quartet is also here in great form with excellent recordings by three of the idiom's greatest: the Famous Davis Sisters, Dorothy Love Coates & the Original Gospel Harmonettes, and Albertina Walker & the Caravans. In addition, the CD features noteworthy recordings by more obscure vocalists like Professor J. Earl Hines, Lois Russell and The Famous Blue Jay Singers. Though all of the recordings included are worthy of place in any gospel collection worth its name, there are of course several standouts unavailable or hard-to-find elsewhere that make obtaining one's own copy of How Sweet It Was not simply desirable but genuinely requisite.

Moving in order of their listing on the album, first we arrive at a live 1948 recording of "How Sweet It Is", in service, of the now obscure soloist Professor J.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is a must buy for classic gospel fans May 21, 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
For over twenty years I've been waiting for someone to do some magic and make the TV Gospel Time kinescopes watchable. There are 26 of them remastered here as well as a European clip of Marion Williams that will transfix you to your chair. I think what Tony Heilbut has done here is amazing. He should be knighted for getting the best-ever video performance by J. Robert Bradley, one of those singers who is no longer well known but should be. Throw in a great Rosetta Tharpe performance of "Up Above My Head" and you can see why Elvis, James Burton, and then later, the Yardbirds guitarists, were so influenced by her. There is no hotter guitar in gospel.

Of course that's only (only?) the video portion. The cd has true treasures. I had about half the cuts. What I lacked was the three live performances of Mahalia Jackson from the early fifties. There is plenty of live Mahalia around but not from this period. I loved her Apollo version of "These are They." There is a live performance here that simply blows it away--and this is not a statement I make lightly.

There are other live treasures--The Georgia Peach and Lois Russell, a J. Earle Hines song with the St. Paul Baptist Church, and two more great Marion Williams pieces. For a gospel freak such as myself, this is the mother lode.

I have no idea why Amazon did not present the set lists but here they are:

1. The Consolers-The Grace Of God
2. The Meditation Singers- Sanctified Lord
3. Clarence Fountain And The Five Blind Boys Of Alabama- Too Close To Haven
4. The Raymond Rasberry Singers- No Tears In Heaven
5. Delois Barrett Campbell And The Barret Sisters- From Out Of Nowhere
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is GOSPEL!!!!!!!!! July 24, 2010
Format:MP3 Music
I love these tracks of a genre that has lost significance to African -Americans and the secular world; although Gospel music is popular. Rarely does one "feel" the power of the singers! It is ironic that this genre known as "Gospel" built a solid foundation on which American Music now and "still" flourishes. These singers poured out their souls on these tracks and like many before them and after them will be forgotten.

Anthony Heilbut and Shanachie Records has supplied listeners with these monumental songs that remind us that the work
of glorifying God is hard but once in a while is very much appreciated.

Enjoy this trip down memory lane!!!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Net of Jewels July 10, 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have nothing to add to what has already been said in the other fine reviews, at least not about the contents of this collection. As for the author and producer, Mr. Anthony Heilbut, he's so much more than a "scholar" of gospel, he is a lover in the truest sense - an unselfish lover who has shared what he loves the most with the rest of the world for the past 40 years. In every way he knew how, through his book, through his many productions, he's become a gospel singer himself. At some point, he heard "sing your song, son!" and man, has he ever. "Not for fame or fashion" applies to him as much as it did to Marion Williams, or to whosoever first uttered those words. I think it's probably safe to say, he's not gotten rich from his endeavors. But he's enriched those of us lucky enough to have tuned in to his wavelength through the years. Thank you, from the bottom of this heart, for the lifetime of joy you've given me. Music lovers, gospel lovers, do yourselves an immediate favor: Buy this release. Then you'll shout "How Sweet It Is!", in the present tense.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love classic gospel music
Anthony Heilbut first caught my attention with his "Sound of Gospel" book in the 1970's. Excellent writer and story teller. Read more
Published 6 months ago by swimmer
5.0 out of 5 stars My mom loved it!
My mother loves the old time gospel she grew up with and this disk was packed with memories. A real gem.
Published 17 months ago by Michael S. Pizarro
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential
This should be required listening & viewing for anyone who says that they love gospel music. Exquisite from start to finish, an in-depth chronicle of the foundation and most... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Tim Dillinger
1.0 out of 5 stars Did not like at all!
A little too far back for me. The second CD did not play at all. Had to send it back.
Published 18 months ago by strawberry7
5.0 out of 5 stars How Sweet It Was Gospel DVD
One of the best gospel DVDs I've viewed. I'm glad these old great films cna be acquired/found and be converted to DVD.
Outstanding. I await for more.
Published on April 17, 2012 by Leon Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Gospel
This is classic gospel from the Golden Age. A must have for any gospel collector.
Great overview for a new collector as well.
Published on February 1, 2012 by jcbl
4.0 out of 5 stars LEST WE FORGET
In this day and age it is popular and easy to forget the giants in our history. This is especially true when you are dealing with culture and the arts. Read more
Published on October 9, 2011 by STILL BILL
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic
Anyone who loves and respects the pioneers of gospel music will enjoy this DVD. It's a classic example of shear vocal talent, and the love of Jesus.
Published on April 14, 2011 by Poison Ivy
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Gospel
This is an excellent DVD full of old, classic gospel songs. The quality is excellent. I think it was show the performers were on. The time frame is the 1950s, I believe. Read more
Published on March 2, 2011 by K. Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and important for its historical archive
Great reminder of where rock and roll and modern music had its inception. Beatles, Rolling Stones and PDiddy would not exist as we know them if not for this influence. Read more
Published on June 21, 2010 by Moon Madness
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