Sunday, July 8, 2018

Three Examples Of The Gospel Song "Too Close To Heaven" (Alex Bradford, The Davis Sisters, and Bessie Griffith)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases two examples of the Gospel song "Too Close To Heaven".

Example #1 is a sound file of "Too Close Too Heaven" by Alex Bradford, the song's composer, and his group The Bradford Singers.

Example #2 is a sound file of The Davis Sisters singing this song.

Example #3 is a video of Bessie Griffith and her group singing this song.

Information about these singers are included in this post along with this song's lyrics.

The content of this post is presented for spiritual, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Alex Bradford, and thanks to Alex Bradford. Bessie Griffith, and The Davis Sisters for their musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

"Alex Bradford (January 23, 1927 – February 15, 1978) (professionally known as Professor Alex Bradford) was a multi-talented gospel composer, singer, arranger and choir director, who was an influence on artists such as Little Richard, Bob Marley and Ray Charles, and who helped bring about the modern mass choir movement in gospel.

Born in Bessemer, Alabama, United States, he first appeared on stage at the age of four, then joined a children's gospel group at the age of 13, soon obtaining his own radio show. He organized another group after his mother sent him to New York City following a racial incident; he continued singing after returning to attend the Snow Hill Institute in Snow Hill, Alabama, where he acquired the title "Professor" while teaching as a student.

He moved to Chicago in 1947, where he worked briefly with Roberta Martin and toured with Mahalia Jackson, then struck out on his own with his own group, the Bradford Singers, followed by another group, the Bradford Specials. He recorded his first hit record, "Too Close To Heaven" (1954), billed as Professor Alex Bradford and his singers, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc,[1] then followed it with a number of other successes in the rest of the decade.

Artists such as Little Richard imitated Bradford's energetic style, ranging from a gravelly bass to a whooping falsetto, and his flamboyant stage presence. Ray Charles, for his part, not only borrowed some of Bradford's vocal mannerisms but based his Raelets on the Bradford Specials. His 1962 gospel song composition "Let the Lord Be Seen in Me", recorded for his One Step & Angel on Vacation album, was also recorded in 1964 by an emerging force in Jamaican music, Bob Marley & the Spiritual Sisters. Marley later adopted the Rastafarian faith, but along with his mother, at first he sang gospel in the local Shilo Apostolic Church.

In 1961, when his recording career was in decline, Bradford joined the cast of the off-Broadway show Black Nativity, based on the writings of Langston Hughes, which toured Europe in 1962.[2] A member of the Alex Bradford Singers at that time was Madeline Bell, who settled in England after the show ended.[3][4] Bradford appeared in Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, for which he won the Obie award in 1972."...

(written by Alex Bradford)

([first] recorded by Professor Alex Bradford & The Bradford Singers, 1954)

Verse 1
I'm too close to my journey's end,
I'm too close to turn back to a world of sin,
I would take nothing for my journey right now,
I've gotta make it to heaven somehow.
I'm too close to my goal,
I'm too close to saving my soul.

I'm too close to heaven,
(And I can't) turn around, turn around.

Verse 2
I'm too close, I can almost see God's face,
I'm too close and I'll tell the world I love His grace.
I'm so close because He's holding my hand,
and I know He will lead me to the promise land.
I'm too close, I wanna see my mother again,
I'm too close, shaking hands with all my friends.



SHOWCASE EXAMPLE: TOO CLOSE TO HEAVEN by Professor Alex Bradford 1954

cdbpdx, Published on Mar 9, 2012

"The Davis Sisters of Philadelphia, PA were an American gospel group founded by Ruth ("Baby Sis") Davis and featuring her sisters Thelma, Audrey, Alfreda and Edna. Imogene Greene joined the group in 1950, and was later replaced by Jackie Verdell when Greene left to join the Caravans.

Early years
Raised in the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church in Philadelphia, the Davis Sisters were one of the first female groups to sing "hard gospel" of the sort being pioneered by the Dixie Hummingbirds and other male quartets of the day. They achieved a big sound, managing to sound like a choir behind the lead singer by positioning themselves several steps behind the microphone.


Many local concerts were given at the "Met" Theatre in Philadelphia. The Sisters always packed the house and were always late arriving. People would wait at the door for them to arrive. They would look for Alfreda because she always led them in their march to the stage to begin singing. Their live performances were awesome and they would "tear the house down". Ruth Davis had such a powerful voice that she could just start up a song without any introduction or gimmicks. When she would sing "Shine On Me", she would throw her handkerchief in the air: the crowd would be ecstatic and many people were slain under the Spirit. When Thelma would sing "Jesus", the crowd really responded enthusiastically. The Davis Sisters' attire was usually plain choir robes and in the early days they were only accompanied by piano played by Curtis Dubin. The Famous Davis Sisters were involved in the evolvement of the a'capella quartet sound into female group singing with instrumental accompaniment.


The Davis Sisters started out during World War II and kept their group together with its original sound and recorded for four decades while maintaining the highest level of popularity on the gospel circuit."...

The Davis Sisters feat. Ruth Davis- "Too Close To Heaven"

DaSourcespr06, Published on May 23, 2008

The Davis sisters singing one Alex Bradford's greatest songs, "Too Close To Heaven"

"Bessie Griffin (July 6, 1922 – April 10, 1989) was an African-American gospel singer.

Born Arlette B. Broil in New Orleans, Louisiana, she was steeped in church music as a child. She sang for a while with the Southern Harps, had her own radio show in New Orleans, and later appeared in night clubs, on Broadway and in 1962 on both The Ed Sullivan Show and The Dinah Shore Show.

Griffin performed briefly with "Queen of Gospel" Albertina Walker and The Caravans in 1953-1954 but spent most of her career as a solo artist. While often compared to Mahalia Jackson, Griffin had a lighter contralto that allowed her to achieve more vocal pyrotechnics — holding a note for long periods of time, continuing a song for as long as twenty minutes and ranging through three octaves.


Griffin was sampled in the 1996 dance track "I Know The Lord" by the band The Tabernacle. The same sample was also used in 1999 for the Shaboom track "Bessie"."...

SHOWCASE VIDEO: Bessie Griffin- "Too Close To Heaven"

DaSourcespr06, Published on Jun 10, 2008

Bessie Griffin shows what she is made of in this live rendition of Alex Bradfords major hit "Too Close To Heaven"!

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