Little Richard sings classic gospel music on “Lonely Sounds”

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This week, Little Richard’s latest album “Lonely Sounds” became available in a variety of formats. The album also streams on Spotify and videos featuring an album-cover visual on display while the songs play are available on YouTube.

While the title of the album is curious, the recording is not the first time the singer has made his way backi nto gospel music. This time, though, his return to gospel music comes after Richard’s announcement in recent months that he was done with rock ‘n’ roll and show business in general.

Mostly though, the 10 tracks on “Lonely Sounds” have been taken directly from the hymnals popular in Methodist and Baptist churches across the US.

Little Richard and “Lonely Sounds”

Titles are not coincidental. There is something telling about the title “Lonely Sounds.” Why would an album of gospel standardds be considered “lonely?” It might seem as if this is how the singer feels at this stage in his life.

However, the songs are not new, per se. Richard has recorded them before, but they have new relevance in light of Richard’s declaration. However, now in his 80s, it would seem that Richard, like anyone else of mature years, has the right to define himself.

If the songs on this album are any indication, then Richard wants to be taken seriously as a Christian artist. Two of the tracks share a title: “I’m Quittin’ Show Business” is both a song and a speech.  The speech leads into the song, and in the speech, Richard discusses how his celebrity life is at odds with what God wants for his life. Richard quotes scripture to back up what he claims.

Still, there is a great deal of music on the album. Songs like “Lord I Want to Be a Christian,” “Troubles of the World,” “I Know the Lord,” and “I Want Jesus to Walk With Me” among others.

In particular, the song “Troubles of the World” is extraordinary for its punchy organ playing, and the use of backing vocals gives the track a depth of feeling that is accented by the organ playing.

The song’s faster rhythm and dynamic singing does not eliminate the song’s dark and serious feel. Listeners can tell that the song is serious and Richard believes what he sings.

Apparently Richard’s willingness to sing and record gospel music dates back to the late 1950s and 1960s. There are reports of Richard wanting to give up rock ‘n’ roll after a troubled airplane flight. The pilot was killed, but Richard was spared. Events like the plane incident are thought to have impacted Richard’s decision to give up rock ‘n’ roll.

While some might have doubted the veracity of Richard’s announcement that he was giving up rock’ ‘n” roll, the tracks on “Lonely Sounds” actually work to prove that Richard was serious.

Stylewise, “lonely Sounds” is different from how Richard sings rock ‘n” roll. There is no scream. There is energy and conviction of the t ype that is necessary for singing gospel music.

At this point in his life, Richard knows who he is, and what he wants. He wants to dedicate his life to God. He wants to sing music that is suited for a  spiritual purpose.

At this point, Richard has been consistent in explaining his new approach to music, and this latest recording comprised of  gospel  favorites, seems further proof that Richard has no intentions of changing back into the man who ushhered in rock ‘n’ roll with a whoop and a shattering bang of the piano.

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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