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Won't That Be One Happy Time


The Golden Gate Quartet were formed in the 1930s and became the most successful proponents of the jubilee style of African-American gospel singing. Although the original members have all died, the quartet continues to perform today. Their website is at http://www.cultd.net/goldengate/.

The style which they came to epitomise was developed by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, who were formed at Fisk University at the beginning of the century. The jubilee groups revolutionised gospel, taking the old "negro spirituals", which by then were typically being performed by larger mixed choirs, and singing them in a small group using restrained, western-sounding arrangements which discouraged improvisation. Their popularity spread from the universities to the black churches, where the response from the congregations added energy and freedom to their restrained sound. They were hugely popular throughout the 1930s and 1940s until eclipsed by the more improvisational and fervent style of the "hard gospel" quartets in the 1950s.

The Fisk University Jubilee singers sounded like this in 1909 and like this in 1926.

The Golden Gate Quartet sounded like this at the start of their career, and like this on Won't that Be One Happy Time.

The only cover version which I can find is this very faithful rendition by The Washed Up Beulah Band.

Incidentally, in 1943, at the height of World War 2, the Golden Gate Quartet had a hit with Stalin Wasn't Stallin'. Until recently, the thought of American audiences buying into such fulsome praise of a controversial Russian "strong man" leader seemed outlandish and unlikely ever to be repeated; still, times change. As yet there is no word of a follow up, "Putin Put the Boot In" or "Putin Avoids Gluten" perhaps, but I suppose it's only a matter of time.