A dialogue with the members of St. Paul Baptist Church and the community's advocates for African American musical preservation, continuity and heritage.
Dr. Hansonia Caldwell, Moderator
St. Paul Baptist Church
100 W. 49th Street, Los Angeles
Saturday, May 29, 2004
1 - 3 PM
Rev. Joel Ward, Pastor
Church Administrator: Pat Thomas
(323) 233-4381; Fax (323) 233-9755
- An Aural Moment in African Diaspora Sacred Music History from the holdings of The Georgia and Nolan Payton Archive of Sacred Music
- Introductions & Acknowledgements
- Introducing the Georgia and Nolan Payton Archive of Sacred Music and The National Endowment for the Humanities Grant
- A Preliminary Report to the Community – Rose Brooks, ADSMM Legacy Musician, Danellen Joseph, Community Ethnographic Archive Liaison
- A Report to the Community - Peter Roberts, ADSMM Legacy Musician, Antoinette Tarkington, Student Ethnographic Archive Liaison
- Introducing St. Paul Baptist Church– Music, Musicians and History
- Dialogue: Perspectives on Oral History and Preservation Efforts – A Town & Gown Imperative – Review of the Survey Document. St. Paul Baptist Church Music Elders; Community and CSUDH student ethnographic archive liaisons; ADSM Board members
THE ECHOES OF EDEN CHOIR
(from The Echoes of Eden Choir’s 50th Anniversary Banquet and Service in Song Program Book, September 21 & 22, 1996)
In Spring of 1946, the late Pastor, Dr. John L. Branham founded the Gospel Choir of the St. Paul Baptist Church. Pastor, having prayerfully considered the fact that man fell from grace in the garden after his transgression of the moral law of God – man was lost and without hope until the son of God came into the world. It was then that man became lifted in the sight of God by Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary. The choir’s theme song “I’m So Glad Jesus Lifted Me,” rang out echoes from the garden. So the choir’s ministry was inaugurated “to loose men from the throws of Satan and lift mankind to that saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.”
The Echoes of Eden broadcast was born on February 2, 1947 over K.F.W.B. radio station on Sunday nights at 10:30 pm live with a 100-voice choir, directed by the late Rev. James Earl Hines. Frank Bull, the sportscaster and Dick Garden were the initial producers. Bro. Joe Adams was the announcer and the late Charles Tramel, Sr. was the narrator. This was a trail blazing experience for Black Churches on the west coast to go National. The broadcast was heard in 17 states and overseas. Echoes of Eden was designated as the official broadcast to our armed forces.
The west met the east with the First Church of Deliverance church choir and the late Rev. Clarence H. Cobbs who pioneered in the east. Those two broadcasts (The Echoes of Eden and the First Church of Deliverance) met mid-continent and initiated the format of Gospel music in a church broadcast for all Black churches to follow.
Crowds of 2,500 people were common to the St. Paul Sanctuary on Sunday nights. The listening audience approached 1 million during the 10 years of the broadcast period.
The choir was an instant success with early recording on Capitol Records. They included such favorites as “Yield Not To Temptation;” “Didn’t It Rain”; “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”; “God Be With You” – featuring the late Rev. J. Earl Hines, Sis. Sallie Martin and our Director Cora Martin Moore.
Certainly the growth of the church could be measured along with the founding of the Echoes of Eden. New members were attracted on the average of 18 per Sunday. Four Thousand persons were added to the rolls from 1946 – 1951. When we moved to the new edifice, the broadcast and the choir’s recordings assisted in the raising of the half million dollars needed at that time to meet the building goals.
The choir had made memorable appearances at the Philharmonic along with the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1947, at the Hollywood Bowl in August 1959 with the late Nat King Cole performing Gospel songs from his last album, and at the Shrine Auditorium for the March of Dimes Benefit. Particularly noteworthy was the choir’s appearance at the 37th annual Congress of the Metropolitan Spiritual Church’s Inc. in Chicago, Illinois, in July of 1962 and the choir’s rendition of “Peace Be Still.”
After the conclusion of the Broadcast ERA on December 29, 1957, the Choir conducted a 4th Sunday Night Musical at 8 pm for a two-year period of time. Then we had an annual service in song.
Choir directors who served were Ovie Hollway till 1946; then the late Rev. James Earl Hines, Bro. Allan Jackson, the late Bro. R. L. Knowles, Bro. R. L. Hatter, the late Sis. Sallie Martin, the late Kenneth Morris and Dr. Maurice E. McGehee.
Sis. Cora Martin served as a soloist in the Echoes of Eden Choir and traveled as a Sallie Martin Singer between 1945 – 1952. She was appointed as the Director of the John L. Branham Crusaders, the Youth Choir, from 1952 – 1958. The choir was built into 90 voices strong. They were heard every third Sunday night in their own musical service. The choir was merged with Echoes of Eden in 1959.
In 1958 Sis. Moore was appointed Minister of Music and Director of Echoes of Eden Choir. She launched a record of faithful service which now amounts to 51 years in her church and 38 of those years as Minister of Music. This has endeared her to her church family. Such rare commitment, steadfastness, dedication and personal sacrifice leaves her with few peers of such extensive exceptional service.
Sis. Moore , is a talented voice and recording artist in her own right, a writer, arranger and pianist when we were without one. For many years she never took a vacation or missed a Sunday or choir rehearsal. She continues to serve on the board of the Gospel Music Workshop of America.
The musicians who served over the ye4ars were pianists, Sis. Gwen Lightner, Rolene Hamilton, Jewel Reid, Velma Steptoe, Glenda Session, Rodena Preston Williams, Rene Jackson, Bro’s Reginald Evans, Robert Mosely, Eddie Kendrix, Barnett Williams, and Larry Williams. The organists were Sis. Edith Owens, Oliva Shepard, Rev. Diane Carroll, Rev. Albert Goodson, Bro’s Garland Dudley, Floyd Jackson, Floyd Meeks, Larry Kimble, Damon Kendrix, Billy Preston, Don Thomas, Don Blackshear.
The other instrumentalists were George and John Jackson, Mac Williams Jewels, Marie Coca, and Deacons Joe Clayton and Jesse Sailes.
Radio announcers were Bro’s Joe Adams, Charles Tramel, Sr. Rev. Charles Williams, Noel Scott and Alexander Pete Dixon.
The two surviving broadcast telephone receptionists are chairlady Jewel Poole, and Deaconess Lucille Arthur. They handled the multitude of calls during the live broadcast on Sunday nights.
The presidents who served the choir were Papa White, Sis. Katie Aimes, Deaconess’s Edna W. Tukes, Maurice Martin, Pearl Texada, Barbara J. Jenkins (1983 – 1986), Deacon Larry Wright (1987 - 1989), Sis. B. J. Jenkins (1990 – present). She is ably assisted by Vice-Presidents Josie Stern and Terri L. Kennedy.
The choir has remained faithful in serving the church over the years. Our focus is that of singing his praise, praying, and soul winning which is our scriptural mandate. We will continue to work until the day is done. Looking forward to seeing our master’s face and hearing him say well done thou good and faithful servant.
There will be a Greater Reunion than the 50th Jubilee Celebration when we reunite with our precious choir members; who await us on the other side. Until that time, we have precious memories of those who labored with us and fought a good fight and kept the faith.