Thursday, November 14, 2013

Seven Songs By The Swan Silvertones Gospel Quartet

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases seven songs by The Swan Silvertones Gospel quartet. Information about The Swan Silvertones is also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for religious, historical, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"The Swan Silvertones, one of the greatest Gospel groups of all time along with the Dixie Hummingbirds and the Soul Stirrers, made their home in Pittsburgh from the late 1940s through the 1960s. Over their thirty year career they were one of the most influential and revered vocal groups. Their uptempo jubilee shout style gospel music, rich harmonies, and lead falsetto influenced Doo Wop and R&B singers. They recorded for the King, Specialty, Vee-Jay, HOB, and Savoy labels releasing over sixty singles and several albums between 1946 and 1979. Their music has been reissued on ten Swan Silvertones compilations since their breakup. Their biggest hit "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" with the line "I'll be a bridge over deep water..." inspired Paul Simon to compose "Bridge Over Troubled Water". The Swan Silvertones were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002 and the International Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2003.

Claude Jeter, the lead singer and founder of the Swan Silvertones is credited for influencing the singing styles of Sam Cooke, Al Green, Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, Drifters founder Clyde McPhatter, and Eddie Kendricks. Jeter pioneered falsetto singing in African American music and is credited as the father of fallsetto.. His strong falsetto leads backed by three-part harmonies was adapted by Doo-wop and R&B groups. Jeter was elected into the American Gospel Quartet Convention Hall of Fame in 1996."...
Additional information about The Swan Silvertones is found in the summary for Example #2 that is found below.

(These examples are presented in chronological order based on their posting date on YouTube, with the oldest dated videos given first. Information about the date of the performances or recordings are given for most of these examples.)

Example #1: Claude Jeter (Swan Silvertones) 1996 American Gospel Quartet Convention Hall of Fame Inductees
[Song: "Only Believe"]

AGQCGospel, Uploaded on Aug 6, 2008

In 1996 the definitive influence and the progenitor of the falsetto, the Legendary Claude Jeter (Swan Silvertones) was inducted into the AGQC American Gospel Quartet Convention Hall of Fame recognizing their music ministry for Jesus Christ. [film clip 1950s?]

Example #2: The Swan Silvertones - A Short History

ArtistIncorporated, Uploaded on Nov 18, 2008

The Swan Silvertones was a Gospel music group that achieved great popularity in the 1940s and 1950s while led by Claude Jeter, who formed the group in 1938 as the "Four Harmony Kings" while working as a coal miner in West Virginia. The group changed its name to the "Silvertone Singers" after moving to Knoxville, Tennessee and obtaining their own radio show in order to avoid confusion with another group known as the "Four Kings of Harmony".

They added the name Swan shortly thereafter since Swan Bakeries sponsored their show. Their wide exposure through radio brought them a contract with King Records.
At that point the Silvertones represented an amalgam of two styles: the close barbershop harmonies that they had featured when starting out in West Virginia and virtuoso leads supplied by Jeter and Solomon Womack.

The group later lost Womack, but added Paul Owens in 1952 and Louis Johnson in 1955. The three singers with their sharply contrasting styles — Jeter a tenor who could sing falsetto withut losing his lyric control, Owens a crooner and Johnson a hard shouter — played off each other to great effect in songs such as "Mary Don't You Weep".

The group recorded for Specialty Records from 1951 to 1955, when it switched to Vee-Jay Records. The group recorded one album with Hob Records after Vee-Jay shut down in 1965, at which point Jeter left the group for the ministry.

The Swan Silvertones were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.

Example #3: He's Sweet, I Know

Swan Silvertones - Topic, Published on Jan 25, 2017

Provided to YouTube by Ingrooves

He's Sweet, I Know · The Swan Silvertones

Golden Gospel Classics: The Swan Silvertones

℗ 2014 Sonorous Entertainment LLC

Released on: 2017-01-27

Composer, Writer: John Henry Miles
This sound file replaces the one that was originally embedded in this post that is no longer available.

Example #5: My Rock

Swan Silvertones - Topic, Published on Nov 5, 2014

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises
This sound file replaces the one that was originally embedded in this post that is no longer available.

Example #5: Trouble in My Way

Swan Silvertones - Topic, Published on Nov 7, 2014
This sound file replaces the one that was originally embedded in this post that is no longer available.

Example #6: The Swan Silvertones- Come To Jesus


soulfuljakazz07, Uploaded on Jul 19, 2011

Since I cannot even begin to describe the extraordinary beauty that is this performance, I won't. I'll just let it's dulcet tones take a direct & decisive route from your speakers to the deepest depths of your soul. From the 1964 Vee Jay LP, Let's Go To Church Together (VJLP/SR-5059). Featuring the one & only otherworldly falsetto of the late, great Claude Jeter.


Walter Robinson, Published on Aug 23, 2013

Thanks to The Swan Silvertones for their musical legacy. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube and thanks to those who I quoted in this post.

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