London based Dom Ore started his music working life at the brilliance of Acid Jazz. Working his way up through the ranks, he began his own label, Miles Away Records. The label is dedicated to releasing quality reissues from across the globe, mainly rooted in Soul. This week sees Miles Away release another quality 7” by Howard Lemon Singers – You Are Somebody & For The Children. We have a chat with him ahead of this killer release.
The overall vibe of the release.
The vibe of this single is one of positivity and good sentiment. Both tracks are a fine example of the harmony between sacred and secular sounds, and the experimentation taking place during the late 1970s as gospel artists were modernizing the soundtrack, and lyrical content of gospel music.
Howard Lemon was born and raised in Detroit. At the age of five he began playing his grandparents piano. His great uncle was Berry Gordy, Sr, father of the founder of Motown Records. The Lemon family were devout Pentecostals. His mother had him taking piano from the age of twelve, and on Sunday’s he caught two buses into downtown Detroit to play at a storefront church. He picked up the clarinet, trumpet and trombone throughout high school.
After University, Lemon decided to pursue a career in Gospel music and in the late 1950s Lemon formed the Lemon Inspirational Singers. Their first recordings were for HOB Records, a local Detroit Label, beginning in 1959. Stylistically these recordings are firmly rooted in the fifties, more stately than state of art.
Following a more individual album for Savoy in 1966, Lemon signed with STAX Records, who were doing well with The Staples Singers and The Rance Allen Group. He recorded two albums for Gospel Truth (STAX subsidiary), in 1973 and 74’. The first announced a commitment to modernity with its title, A Message For Today; the second enlisted the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Memphis Horns, and included a gospelised version of The Stylistics hits – ‘Stop, Look, Listen To Your Heart’.
Esther Smith – the passionate lead vocalist on For The Children – was already an accomplished singer, having recorded for Vee Jay in 1954, with the Lockhart Singers and with Mattie Moss Clark in the late 60s.
The Howard Lemon Singers disbanded shortly after their Gospel Roots album. For thirty years he worked as an administrator for the Neighbourhood Services Development division of the City of Detroit, and then ten years as a probation officer. In 2007 he retired to Florida, where he still plays every Sunday in church. Evangelist Esther Smith lives outside Detroit, busy with her on-going singing career.
You are somebody.
You Are Somebody is a gorgeous modern soul heater. Accomplished vocalist Esther Smith’s sublime voice delivers her vocal lines with such confidence and assurance that the words seem to strut over the funky basslines and drumming support.
For the children.
On the flip, For The Children is a more mid-tempo burner, but don’t let this fool you – it’s “stop-you-in-your-tracks” good. Esther Smith’s vocals shine brightly and are delightfully accompanied by the Nile Rodgers-esque ‘wacka-wacka’ guitar of Lester Snell throughout.
Final thank you.
We’d like to thank Dom Ore for taking the time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about this amazing new release. We hope that our readers have enjoyed learning more about these talented artists and their incredible music. With its powerful message, uplifting sounds, and stunning vocals, we are sure that “You Are Somebody & For The Children” will be a hit among soul fans everywhere! Be sure to pick up your copy today at Juno, you won’t regret it!
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