Deep in the heart of Panola County, Mississippi lies Como, a small
rural town where children and grown folks alike have been living
and breathing gospel for as long as they can remember. In the summer
of 2006, Daptone Records placed a small ad in local papers and on
the radio inviting singers to come down to Mt. Mariah Church to
record their songs. The result is COMO NOW, a stirring collection
of traditional and original a cappella gospel from the voices of
Panola County’s own families.
It may seem like a leap for Daptone Records to be releasing an album
of a cappella gospel music. Daptone has earned a reputation for
creating and proliferating the purest of today’s soul and funk music.
Why gospel? And why without any instrumentation? If you put aside
the analytical categories of the music critic for a moment, and just
listen to the record, the answer becomes simple and clear: this is
“When Michael Reilly came to me with his first recordings of the
Como Mama’s, I remember hearing it and being blown away. Though
I’ve been into soul Music for a very long time, it has only been
in the past few years that I really got deeper into gospel music.
I owe this in no small part to Cliff Driver who invited to play
bass behind Naomi Shelton and the gospel Queens. Through, Naomi,
Sharon Jones, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Wilson Picket, Aretha Franklin,
and several other heroes of mine, the line distinguishing Soul Music
from Gospel became much less significant. For me it was less of an
academic lineage than a visceral feeling that I started to get from
listening to old records by the Soul Stirrers, The Highway QC’s,
Dorothy Love Coates, The Mighty Pilgrim Travelers, The Blind Boys,
and The Violinaires. They were the same sounds, the same feeling,
as listening to James Brown, Tina Turner and Lee Fields when they
were really wailing. Otis Redding when he was really pleading.
Al Greene when he was really moaning. Sounds that made the hairs on
the back of my neck stand on end. The recordings Michael played me
gave me the same feeling.”
– Gabriel Roth
The 16 songs on this record feature performances by every one of
the singers that came down to Mt. Mariah Church on July 22nd, 2006.
hough their music is steeped in tradition, it should not be filed
away as some sort of academic field recording. It was not made for
the archives of the Library of Congress, nor for the benefit of
musicologists and anthropologists. COMO NOW is a contemporary recording
of contemporary people. From the slow stirring duets of Brother
Raymond and Sister Joella Walker to the bouncing harmonies of the
Jones Sisters, every song on this record is meant for you, they’re
contemporary, to hear how the people of Como, Mississippi sing
â€“ right now.