Monday, August 31, 2009

Rest in Peace Marie Knight

One of the grand dames of gospel music has passed away. She was born June 1, 1925 and passed away Sunday August 30, 2009. M.C. Records, which issued her marvelous tribute to Rev. Gary Davis, Let Us Get Together: A Tribute to Reverend Gary Davis, issued the following upon her death.

"With heavy hearts, M.C. Records announces the death of gospel legend Marie Knight. She died in New York City on August 30, 2009 due to complications from pneumonia. Marie first came to prominence in 1946 when she met and started working with Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Together they would be one of the most popular gospel artists of the 1940's, and make music history through a string of gospel hits including Didn't It Rain, Up Above My Head, and the gorgeous Beams of Heaven. Marie Knight and Sister Rosetta Tharpe would tour frequently together through the 1950's. In the 1960's, Marie had several R& B hits, but in 1970's rededicated herself to gospel music and became a minister at the Gates of Prayer Church in New York City.

Marie Knight's recent comeback began in 2002 when producer and M.C. Records owner Mark Carpentieri invited Marie to record on Shout, Sister, Shout!: A Tribute To Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Mark recalls the phone call. "Gayle Wald, who was writing the liner notes for the project, asked me if I had contacted Marie Knight about participating in the project. I didn't know she was still alive! I called Marie, and she sounded so vibrant that I arranged studio time, and we’ve been working together ever since."

After the release of Shout, Sister, Shout!: A Tribute To Sister Rosetta Tharpe, tour work came in regularly for Marie Knight. In 2007, Mark Carpentieri put together Marie Knight's first full-length album in over 25 years, Let Us Get Together. The project was a tribute to Rev. Gary Davis, and was co-produced with Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan) (Ollabelle) (Levon Helm). The record was a critical success, with great reviews from The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer and many more."

I reviewed Let Us Get Together for Jazz & Blues Report, (July-August 2007) as well as here in August 2007. The review is linked here. She was major talent who will be missed.

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