#268: Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #268, on the subject of Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts.

On the sensational live album which will be our next subject, our last subject, Barry McGuire, introduces a family trio, Annie Herring (nee Ward), Nellie Greisen (nee Ward), and Matthew Ward.  He tells how he was visiting his friend Buck Herring, then producer of Barry’s first Christian album, and at the end of dinner Buck said to his wife something like, “Why don’t you show Barry what you and the others have been working on?”  Barry’s gut reaction was this is a cross I have to bear, one of the sufferings that come with being a famous musician and recording artist–and then as Annie played the piano and the three of them sang, he was overwhelmed with how wonderful they sounded.

I have recently observed that sibling vocal groups blend extremely well, partly because their genetics give them similar sounding voices and partly because their upbringings give them remarkably similar ideolects.  I can usually, but not always, tell which of my five sons is talking (and my youngest has exhibited a remarkable ability to mimic the sound of his mother calling me).  This was certainly a factor in the sound of this band, as it was difficult to tell when the singer was Annie and when it was Nellie, and although Matthew had a slightly deeper vocal quality and an amazing flexibility in his singing (his frillery would have astonished Handel) when the three sang in close harmony it was as if one voice were triple-tracked.

Their debut album was cleverly entitled With Footnotes, and the back of the album had the text of that passage from a modern translation, with footnote numbers to footnotes which were the titles of the album’s eleven songs.  The first, Which Way the Wind Blows, was one of their memorable ones, and Love, Peace, Joy was also popularly recognized, but their most popular song ever, covered by many other artists including Keith Green and Glad, Easter Song, appeared on this album.

They followed this with more superb recordings of great songs in In the Volume of the Book.  It opens with Start Every Day With a Smile and the hard-rocking Yahweh, and includes Morning Comes When You Call, Last Day of My Life, Keep On Shinin’, and I Can’t Get Near You.  I remember covering Prince Song in a band we called Aurora, with Jeff Zurheide, Karen Johnson (later Zurheide), Candy Jones, and Melissa Rowe (who ultimately married our classmate Brooks Williams, who had his own reasonably successful music career).  It was a very popular and influential album overall.  It is surprising how many of these are not on YouTube, although as to that someone keeps having them removed.

I remember bits of the next, Mansion Builder, including the title song, I’ll Give My Life to You, Well, Haven’t You Heard, and the Melody Green song Make My Life a Prayer to You.

It appears they released a couple of albums while I was at the radio station, but somehow these either never reached us or weren’t so memorable.  All three of them released solo albums, but Matthew had a major solo career which I did not follow–his frilly style was wonderful folded into the vocal stacks of the trio, but a bit much on its own, like listening to Baroque arias.  They also toured with several other artists, and released multiple live albums proving that they were as good live as anyone was in the studio, but one of those rose to prominence worthy of its own spotlight in our next article in the series.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple AndraĆ© Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus.
  16. #262: First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.
  17. #264:  How About Danny Taylor.
  18. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire.