Detroit guitarist, producer and label-owner Dave Hamilton worked in the city from the mid-40s until the end of the century. He was involved in most fields of black music and gospel was no exception. Although not a particularly religious person himself, his home was directly opposite Reverend CL Franklin’s New Bethel Baptist Church where his daughters Erma, Aretha and Carolyn would attend and sing. It was a major centre for the Civil Rights movement and Dave would have made many contacts through that church.
Having an affordable recording studio in the centre of the city and a reputation as an accomplished guitarist, producer and approachable character, meant his studios and label were in the right place at the right time.
Dave dabbled with gospel recordings throughout his career and in 1969 registered his Sacred Sounds label and entered the gospel field seriously. The label had around 20 single releases and at least one album. The records were presumably sold in the churches where the groups performed and pressed in relatively small numbers, judging by the scarcity of the discs today. There are likely to be more Sacred Sounds discoveries in the future. There were a few releases issued on one-off labels like New Creation, Silver Harp and Motor City, while the Reynolds Singers featuring Little Stevie was issued on his Demoristic imprint. Dave kept the master tapes so the sound on most tracks is very good. There were many unissued gospel recordings including an LP’s worth on the Scott Singers, two of which we have included, along with numbers from the Reverend Simon Barbee, blues singer Mr Bo and Dave’s main male soul singer OC Tolbert, whose family group was a major gospel act.
With Dave’s heavy involvement in soul music the tracks are a superb blend of gospel and soul and will appeal to lovers of both genres. Although recorded mainly between 1969 and 1974, the timeless nature of black church music makes their appeal relevant to fans of black music from any decade.
Local music historian Adam Stanfel provides excellent notes, including interviews with some of the participants, while a tremendous selection of photos, label scans and some trivia complements the package.