Shirley Smith – In Hymn I Trust

13,50 13,31

SKU: The Sirens 5017 Categories: , Tag:


Supported by an organist and a drummer, singer-pianist Smith shouts out new gospel and classic hymns with such resonant enthusiasm that there’s no doubting the claim of the clever album title.

Track Listing:
1. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms - 4:04   2. Trust and Obey - 2:41   3. Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus - 3:19   4. Tis So Sweet - 3:07   5. He's Sweet I Know - 2:47   6. Something About That Name - 3:44   7. I Know It Was the Blood - 3:33   8. O Magnify the Lord - 2:42   9. Great Is Thy Faithfulness - 4:40   10. We Cry Holy - 4:56   11. Because He Lives - 4:50

Shirley Smith (piano, vocals) , Yosef Ben Israel / Eugene “Bud” Harris (bass) , Frank Cleveland (organ) , Dart Gunn (drums)


1. Cadence - Larry Hollis - Apr-May-Jun 2008
As the old musicians’ saying goes, she could probably sing the phone book. But her niche is Gospel and by that I mean Deep Black Gospel, not the vanilla pabulum one hears on Sunday morning television. … Ms. Smith plays an instrument, in this case the piano; she plays it very well, bringing to mind at times Aretha or a sanctified Roberta Flack. Just check out the first two cuts on this platter if you need reassurance. Additionally on several titles she has overdubbed her voice like a three piece choir (soprano/alto/tenor), sending chills up one’s spine. Frank Cleveland adds some tasty organ interplay to tracks such as “Something About That Name”, and acoustic Jazz bassist Josef Ben Israel spells electric bassman Eugene Harris on three numbers. If you find yourself feeling a little down, just pop on “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus” or the hand clapping “I Know It Was The Blood.” If they don’t make you feel better you’d best see a doctor.”

2. Living Blues - Lee Hildebrand - February 2010
Piano, long the principal musical instrument in African American worship, can be heard on countless gospel recordings, though seldom outside its primary role of accompanying vocal performances. The Sirens Records, a Highland Park, Illinois, label devoted to documenting blues, boogie, jazz, and gospel pianists, now showcases the traditional gospel sounds of Shirley Smith, Minister of Music at Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida.
The set includes six instrumentals. Smith and her rhythm section (organ, bass, drums) begin Leaning On The Everlasting Arms at two-beat swing temp with pronounced backbeat before kicking into a faster, highly spirited shout beat. O Magnify The Lord is treated to a straight-ahead 4/4 swing groove by the supporting players, over which Smith works a bit of jazz harmony into her highly syncopated keyboard attack. The traditional waltz Trust and Obey, an original song titled We Cry Holy, and two contemporary Christian standards by Bill and Gloria Gaither – Something About That Name and Because He Lives – get sweetly reverent readings at slower clips. Smith’s approach to the 88s is simple and solid, with little showing off or straying from the original melodies.
Smith applies her warm alto voice to the remaining five selections, of which the waltz Tis So Sweet is particularly soulful. Her singing, like her piano playing, is largely unadorned, though it comes as a something of welcome change of pace from the pyrotechnical, often over-the-top vocals heard on many current gospel recordings. On some numbers, she overdubs her voice to create the sound of a small choir. And on the two-beat I Know It Was The Blood, she plays no piano at all, singing alone with just the support of bass, bass drum, and syncopated handclaps, hinting at the type of fervor she must stir up when interacting with a church congregation[s]. Too bad there wasn’t one on this rather subdued recording.

3. Blues and Rhythm - Norman Darwen - February 2010
Shirley plays piano (Erwin Helfer introduced her to The Sirens) and the first two tracks are instrumental showcases for her considerable talents in this direction. She also sings soprano, tenor and alto, which we can hear in a choir setting on some tracks thanks to the wonders of over-dubbing. She grew up in Detroit and began playing at three years old becoming professional at thirteen, she leads workshops across America on various aspects of gospel music and has given voice lessons at blues festivals.
For this CD – her debut – Shirley is backed by her associate from her church in Jacksonville, Florida, organist Frank Cleveland (who has worked with Al Green), Chicago gospel drummer Dart Gunn, and either jazz bass player Yosef Ben Israel or gospel bassist Eugene “Bud” Harris. The balance of the eleven tracks is from the public domain, though mostly with fresh and original arrangements. However, the instrumental “Something About That Name” is a little to florid for my taste – though, followed as it is by the foot-stomping, hand-clapping “ I Know It Was The Blood”, which is just Shirley and Eugene on a rural sounding item, this is quickly forgiven. “O Magnify The Lord” is pure jazz in execution, and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” could pass as a classic torch song if you don’t listen to the words too closely. Just as the CD seems to be losing direction, Shirley’s co-composition, the instrumental “We Cry Holy”, restores the gospel balance, and the closer maintains this, though something a little more rousing might have made a better ending to the set.
No one else seems to be recording this kind of music – The Sirens has a small but highly interesting catalogue of modern but traditionally rooted gospel music, and this is a worthy addition.

4. - Marcie - 2009
Religie in de USA leeft nog steeds voort in gospels en Hymnen en dan vooral in de Kerk. Alleen wordt dit bluesgenre niet zo frequent meer op plaat gezet. De voorzitter van de ‘Sirens Records’, Steven Dolins, herkende echter het talent van Shirley Smith en gaf haar de ruimte voor dit debuutalbum waarin elf songs, de helft gezongen, de helft instrumentaal. Als pianiste, die al vanaf haar kinderjaren piano speelde, begeleidt Shirley zichzelf, meestal sereen, af en toe swingend en een enkele keer jubelend zoals in ‘Leaning On The Everlasting Arms’. Ook orgelist Frank Cleveland, die nog met Al Green toerde, en Gospelbassist Eugene Harris staan haar terzijde.
Shirley Smith groeide op in Detroit en was op haar dertiende al een volleerde pianiste die in de Kerk speelde. Behalve piano studeerde zij ook zang en harp aan de Hogeschool in Detroit. Haar familie moedigde haar aan en Gospel muziek werd haar passie. Zij trok naar Georgia en later naar Florida waar zij als ‘Minister of Music’ in de ‘Potter’s House Christian Fellowship’ naast zielenherder McLaughlin een professionele carrière uitbouwde. Zij geeft daarnaast nog zanglessen en hield workshops in heel het land, van West Virginia tot in Washington.
Dit debuutalbum reveleert niet alleen haar talent als pianiste, maar ook haar vocale sterktes. Haar zang is soms devoot zoals in ‘Tis So Sweet’ om dan weer aan kracht te winnen. Op ‘I Know It Was The Blood’ met handgeklap en voetritmes en het piëteitsvolle ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness’ krijgt haar stem een jazzy timbre. Op het instrumentale ‘O Magnify The Lord’ drijft jazzbassist Yosef Ben Israel de ritmes op en voegt er vitaliteit aan toe. Wie dan nog niet in de Kerk zit, wordt gegarandeerd binnengelokt. Shirley’s geloof en liefde voor Jesus overheerst in alle songs, blijkbaar de kracht die haar stuwt en haar muziek spiritueel inkleurt. In ‘Trust And Obey’ wordt dit instrumentaal verklankt. Met Kerstmis in zicht, creëert Shirley Smith alvast de juiste sfeer om de intimiteit van die vredesdagen soulvol te verwelkomen.