Join Stax Records as they kick off a new Instagram Live series, “Gospel Brunch Live Set with DJ Jared ‘Jay B.’ Boyd,” featuring music from The Gospel Truth Records catalog.
Debuting this Sunday (5/24) at 2:00 pm PT/4:00 pm CT on Stax Records on Instagram and continuing on the third Sunday of every month through August (2:00 pm PT on 6/21, 7/19, and 8/16), the new series is part of Stax’s tribute campaign to The Gospel Truth Records and leads up to the release of The Gospel Truth singles compilation in September (Gospel Heritage Month). The compilation will be available on vinyl, CD and digitally.
In addition to being a DJ and penning the liner notes for the upcoming The Gospel Truth compilation, Jared Boyd is a Memphis-based multimedia journalist with The Daily Memphian, co-host/producer of NPR’s roots music program “Beale St. Caravan,” and DJs at events throughout Memphis, including Memphis Tourism’s Music Hub events at Central Station. Jared has also reported for AL.com, It’s A Southern Thing, The Daily Mississippian, Jackson Free Press, and Commercial Appeal.
In March, Craft Recordings kicked off their campaign to honor the music of Gospel Truth Records, a subsidiary of Stax Records, with the first-ever digital release of 25 albums from the label’s catalog. Beginning with The Rance Allen Group’s 1972 self-titled debut (digitally reissued on March 13th), one title has been released in chronological order every week and will continue up until September’s Gospel Heritage Month.
From the divine gospel of Rev. T.L. Barrett and Rev. Maceo Woods to the cutting-edge message music of Louise McCord and marquee artist Rance Allen, the Gospel Truth catalog exemplifies the dynamic heritage of Stax’s influence. Reaching beyond the realms of the black American gospel tradition, the ’70s label showcased a diverse collection of talent—including the Indian meditative teachings of Blue Aquarius, the white roots music of the Commanders and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s People’s Choir of Operation PUSH, who chronicle the Civil Rights struggle.
Established in 1972, Gospel Truth was conceived of by Stax executive Al Bell, who enlisted the help of radio promotions pioneer and songwriter Dave Clark and label staffer Mary Peak Patterson to oversee the formation of the imprint. With a focus on moving the good word out of the pulpit and into the hands of the masses, Gospel Truth was intended to “carry the message of today’s gospel to the people on the street,” as promotional material for the label’s launch touted. But what separated Gospel Truth from other labels in the genre was that it made its music accessible to everyone. With his sharp eye for talent, Clark paired down-home, traditional gospel musicians with raw, revolutionary artists that adopted the conventions of rock, funk and soul, creating a sound that resonated with a hip, ’70s audience.
Clark and Peak also gave Gospel Truth’s artists the same high-level promotional considerations that were given to any of the secular stars at Stax: from outfits and photoshoots to bookings. This also included special attention from Stax’s creative director Larry Shaw, who conceived of a cohesive design language for Gospel Truth—making each record have a conversation with the intended audience. That visual dialogue was a signal that the music could be enjoyed in all settings—sacred or secular.
The music, sermons and other recordings included in the Gospel Truth canon, while left for several decades as either a distant memory for many involved or a relic for collectors to behold, holds up today as a collection of enduring importance. In the age of social media, the pursuit of “truth” and the importance of the “gospel” has yet to diminish. In an effort to present both concepts to a new generation of seekers, learners and doers, this collection of releases will serve to provide context for contemporary listeners. As Stax put it in the initial press materials for the imprint, “After all, it doesn’t matter if you listen to gospel quietly…snap your fingers…sing along…or to dance to it, as long as you get the message.”
One of the most popular Soul labels of all time, Stax has become synonymous with its gritty, Southern Rhythm & Blues sounds. Originally known as Satellite Records, the Memphis imprint was founded in 1957 by Jim Stewart. Over the course of two decades, Stax released more than 800 singles and nearly 300 LPs, picking up eight GRAMMYS® and an Academy Award along the way. In all, Stax placed more than 167 hit songs in the Top 100 pop charts, and a staggering 243 hits in the Top 100 R&B charts.