Saturday, February 18, 2012

Whitney Houston's familial ties to Golden Era Gospel

It's no secret, Whitney Houston was not a stranger to gospel music. Whitney's voice matriculated in the church, she starred in the mid 90s version of The Preacher's Wife, and her last, known on stage performance was "Jesus Loves Me". Yet, her family's gospel origins stretch back to the late 1930s.

In 1938, Nicholas "Nitch" Drinkard (Whitney's maternal grandfather) formed a singing group in Savannah, GA comprised of his children Emily "Cissy", Anne, Nick, Larry, with sister Lee (mother of Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick) serving as their manager. This singing group was named the Drinkard Four, and later became known as the Drinkard Singers (or Drinkard Jubilairs by some accounts). By the 1950s, the family moved to New Jersey and the Drinkard Singers recorded a few singles between 1954 and 1956 for the Savoy/Regent, and Verve labels. On July 7, 1957, the Drinkard Singers made an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival. After the appearance, the Drinkard Singers recorded an album for RCA Victor in April 1958. This was the group's first appearance on a major record label. The Drinkard Singers continued to record through the 1960s for the Choice label and HOB Records.

Here are the Drinkard Singers in action from 1957 at the Newport Jazz Festival singing "That's Enough."
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