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  Rance Allen


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Click below for a Rance Allen  sample:

Ain't No Need In Crying

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Gospel's influence on the development of popular music is a well-documented fact.   The church was and is the home of most successful vocalists, as the passion involved in gospel singing makes doing pop material a fairly simple task.  Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield and Bobby Womack are among the dozens of prominent soul singers to make the jump from the steeple to the stage.  But with the exceptions of Aretha Franklin and Al Green, once the decision was made to go pop, there was no returning to their gospel roots.   It seemd that there was an invisible barrier separating spiritual and secular music that could not be challenged.  That is, until Rance Allen.

The singer and multi-instrumentalist was the first gospel artist to consciously court the mainstream soul audience with his trailblazing records, which preceded the crossover efforts of the Winans, Take 6, Kirk Franklin and Mighty Clouds of Joy.  It is partially because of him that recent songs by Mary Mary ("Shackles") and Yolanda Adams ("Open My Heart") were able to be so readily accepted on black radio.

Allen was born in Detroit and his musical talents were apparent at an early age.  With his brothers Tom and Steve supporting him, he signed with the Stax subsidiary Truth for a series of genre-bending albums, A Soulful Experience and Straight From the Heart, that featured heavy secular influences.  Previously, the Edwin Hawkins Singers had climbed the charts with "O Happy Day," but that song had a traditional gospel arrangement.  Allen's work was just as likely to borrow from funk or rock or gospel, as his performance during 1972's Wattstax confirms.

Allen is also noted for having one of the longest tenures at Stax.   After losing nearly all its artists by the late 70s, the label had its biggest hit of 1979 with "I Belong To You," which reached #24 that February.  It marked a homecoming of sorts, as it was recorded after a brief stint with Capitol, where he received the golden touch of the Mizell brothers on Say My Friend.

Many of Allen's albums are available on cd and he issued Miracle Worker in 2000.

Rance Allen's Deepest Grooves

Straight From the Heart (Stax, 1972)

A Soulful Experience (Stax, 1975)
Features the smooth groove classic "Ain't No Need of Crying."   You need to hear it if you haven't. 

Say My Friend (Capitol, 1978)
A serious collaboration between two artists whose respect for music overshadows genre conventions: Rance and the Mizell Brothers.  Features "Truth Is Marching On," available on one of the Capitol Rare comps.

Best of the Rance Allen Group (Stax, 1988)
A tight comp of his best stuff.  Gives Archie Bell's "There's Gonna Be A Showdown" an entirely new twist.  Also does a version of the Tempts' "Just My Imagination."  

Let the Music Get Down In Your Soul (Stax, 1997)
Previously unreleased sessions shows how deep his well ran.

Copyright 2001 B.Graff.  All rights reserved.

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