Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens

naomisheltonWhere did Daptone Records come from? Seriously. How did a label form in this decade that’s making soul music that’s deep, passionate and relevant, while at the same time competing with the great records coming from Memphis or Muscle Shoals in the late ’60s and early ’70s?

Obviously, the Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings records have set a high standard for soul music in this decade, but this summer, Daptone released another incredible record for a different genre. Naomi Shelton & The Gospel QueensWhat Have You Done, My Brother? is possibly my favorite gospel album I’ve ever heard.

Shelton’s deep, soulful and sass-filled delivery puts a spin on the genre that’s rare to experience. But more important are the understated instruments and back-up singers. It’s not a huge choir, it’s not a booming band. The band may as well be comprised of Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn, Booker T and Steve Cropper. It’s amazing—What Have You Done, My Brother? has a sound that washes over you in the same way that an old Bobby Womack or Percy Sledge album would.

Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens – “What Have You Done” (from What Have You Done, My Brother?)

I had the pleasure of getting to speak with Shelton over the phone. We talked about gospel music, God, and love. Here’s the most soulful list we’ve gotten to date.

five tunes

1) Sam Cooke – “A Change Is Gonna Come” – “When I was a little girl, I knew that sooner or later, that with everything that’s going on in the world today—and this was years ago—that if you just hold on, eventually, things is gonna change. I knew in my heart as a kid that change was going to be made. Every day we wake up, it’s a new day. So naturally, every day, things have been changed from yesterday, ‘cause our attitude is entirely different. And that’s what it’s all about—growing.”

2) Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers – “Touch the Hem of His Garment” (from Sam Cooke With The Soul Stirrers) – “That song goes back into, you know, people had been sick for many, many years. And God was out there on a rock there. He wasn’t behind no walls, behind no building, he wasn’t in no church. He was just out there, and people would gather around this man and say, ‘My God, what’s exciting about going over here?’ So this woman was pushin’ her way through, ‘cause she figured, ‘With all the sickness I’ve had, that one day, if I can just touch the hem of his garment, I’ll be made whole.’ And she had enough faith into herself that she knew that if she did that, her sickness would be over. And it was.”

3) Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – “100 Days, 100 Nights” (from 100 Days, 100 Nights) – “[Every member of the Daptone label is part of] a whole big family. We’re all just good friends. She has some nice stuff there.”

4) The Staples Singers – “I’ll Take You There” (from Be Altitude: Respect Yourself) – “That’s our theme song that we march in on. We don’t really sing it. I know it, though. ‘I know a place, / Ain’t nobody worried. / I’ll take you there.’”

5) The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi – “Where He Leads Me” (from Please Remember Me) – “‘Wherever you send me, I’ll go.’ That’s what it’s all about. We don’t have no particular place to go. Wherever we think we can go and touch souls, and show love and give love, this is where we’re going. The highways, the byways, the clubs, wherever—that’s where God wants me to go and touch his seekers. It’s all about love.”

Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens – Lala | Insound | iTunes

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