He Is My Story: The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes
“A singer sits at the piano and loses all inhibitions while in complete control of the instrument: Little Richard, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis,” Michael Corcoran writes in the book that accompanies this recent, highly recommended release from Tompkins Square. “Although Arizona Dranes didn’t come close to the stature of those icons, she set the mold for rockin’ singer/pianists in 1926 with six “test records” that have stood the test of time.” Though the piano has become an integral part of the gospel music we know today, Dranes’ recordings for the Okeh label were the first sanctified tunes to use the instrument. It’s breathtaking stuff, as the blind Texan pianist/vocalist brings boogie woogie, barrelhouse, blues and ragtime into the church, a full quarter century before it even occurred to Ray Charles. Tompkins Square has been doing an amazing job of bringing rare gospel to light — especially though Mike McGonigal’s essential collections, and Sanctified Soul continues the good work. For recordings that are close to 90 years old, the transfers sound as fresh as alive as if they were made yesterday. Hallelujah!