In August this year the world lost legend in soul, R&B and gospel music, madame/sister Marie Knight as she was variously known during her six decade long career in music. She became famous when recording with gospel pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and since 1946 she never quit singing. Her career is a long and eclectic one, and not always spiritual, she hit the charts more than once with secular material. For some reason, there isn't yet a Best Of released and her solo recordings are poorly documented - but I'm gonna try to put together a homemade compilation after I've done my research. In the meanwhile, here is her last album made just two years ago and released to rave reviews!
'Marie Knight began singing at the Oakwood Baptist Church in Newark, NJ and made some early gospel singles for Brunswick and Mercury. Starting in 1952 she gained international fame as the duet partner of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She continued recording gospel and secular music in the '60s, '70s and '80s. In 2003, MC Records recruited her to sing on A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Shout Sister Shout. Her performance was so powerful, the label offered her a contract, and this album, her first full-length in 20 years, is the happy result. Reverend Gary Davis was discovered by folkies in the '60s and celebrated as one of the last living links between ragtime, blues and gospel music. His syncopated picking style made him an acoustic guitar legend and several of his compositions, including "Samson and Delilah" and "I'll Fly Away," became folk "hits." Davis died in 1972 and is today largely unknown, even in folk circles. Hopefully, this album will bring his music back into the spotlight. Knight, not unexpectedly, concentrates on Davis' gospel tunes, and infuses them with a sanctified power. She's lost a bit of her high end over the years, but her fervent delivery remains undiminished, polished by the experience she brings to her renditions. Super picker Larry Campbell produces and backs Knight with a credible version of Davis' syncopated and highly rhythmic style of guitar picking. "When I Die," a celebration of eternal salvation, bounces brightly along with Campbell's chiming guitar and Lincoln Schleifer's bass adding to Knight's blazing rendition. "Death Don't Have No Mercy" gets a swampy blues drenched reading with Campbell playing Pops Staples-style electric guitar and Kim Wilson blowing some fine harp. Knight shines throughout, bringing the spirit of Davis to life with performances full of her ardent, funky, playful soul.'