Mack C. Mason is a Chicago area writer and the author of Saints in the Land of Lincoln: The Urban Development of a Pentecostal Denomination and the Birth of the Gospel Music Industry. He contributes the following piece for GOSPELflava.com, a detailed look at songwriter George Jordan.
Many of today's younger Gospel fans may not quickly recognize the name of George Allen Jordan. Anointed preacher, gifted singer and veteran songwriter for over forty years, George Jordan is responsible for many of the Gospelís most enduring songs, including "Jesus Can Work It Out" one of the most widely-aired traditional Gospel songs in recent history.
"Jesus Can Work It Out" is only one of the many musical works created by Rev. George Jordan according to BMI records. In fact, the song which was written in 1973, has been recorded by many artists including Dr. Charles G. Hayes and the Warriors, Kurt Carr and The Kurt Carr Singers, trumpeter Rod McGaha, Donald Vails, The Jackson Southernaires, Reuben Lightfoote and others.
The song has also been recorded twice by Rev. Jordan himself, backed by Rev. Maceo Woods and The Christian Tabernale Concert Choir of Chicago.
As a young musician and songwiter growing up in Detroit, George Jordan worked with and earned the respect of many of Gospel's pioneers in the Motor City. There he observed the craft of songwriting and performance nuances of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark at Bailey Temple COGIC, recorded with The Mighty Voices of Tabernacle under Rev Charles Ashley Craig II and James Cleveland, and scored his first hit composition with "God Never Fails" recorded by Harold Smith's Majestics. "God Never Fails" has been included in the National Baptist Hymnal.
When visiting Chicago, the late Rev. James Cleveland often credited George Jordan with the arrangement of his hit "Peace Be Still."
Moving from Detroit to Chicago in the late 60's, Rev. Jordan accepted the position of Minister of Music at Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church. Founded in 1960 by popular organist Rev. Maceo Woods, Christian Tabernacle was already a progressive church and home to the celebrated Christian Tabernacle Concert Choir, whose lead singers Doris Sykes, Pearl McCombs and Melvin Smothers were even then being referred to as Gospel superstars.
Rev. Jordan's arrival in Chicago came shortly after the bankruptcy of the choir's recording home, Vee Jay Records, where Rev. Woods began recording in 1952. Rev. Woods, who had already organized his own publishing and production company, Christian Tabernacle Music, was busy with the many demands of his pastorate and promised to widely expose the songs of George Jordan. By the fall of 1969, "Hello Sunshine" was the first of many of Jordan's soon-to-be classics, presented before thousands attending the choir's annual Gospel Supreme concert held at the downtown Auditorium Theatre.
"Hello Sunshine" became the hit single from Rev. Woods' studio LP In Concert released first on local Free Sound label and later picked up nationally by Volt Records. The song debuted on Billboard's R&B chart in 1970.
The success of the Maceo Woods and George Jordan songwriting / production team would be evident over the following decades, with seventeen albums recorded on Stax/Volt, Stax/Gospel Truth, Savoy and finally on Woods' own Gospel Supreme label.
Through the years, church choirs from coast to coast have processed down the aisles singing another George Jordan classic, "Step To Jesus" also recorded by Rev. Woods and Christian Tabernacle Concert Choir on Stax/Volt.
More recently, the 2005 success of The Remix by Dr. Charles G. Hayes and The Warriors on ICEE Records is indeed a phenomenon, garnering record spins at radio outlets across the country. Dr. Hayes and his choir recorded the song on its sophomore Savoy LP in 1980. The great ad libs of lead vocalist Diane Williams hit instantly, as radio announcers embraced what soon became known as the "Cosmo sound."
On an interesting note, it was Rev. Maceo Woods who brought Dr. Hayes to the attention of Savoy in 1979 and regularly promoted Diane Williams' performances "Pray For Me" and "Jesus Can Work It Out" on his nightly five-hour Midnight Gospel broadcasts on WNIB and WCFL.
Without question, Diane Williams' Bible-laced raps have introduced "Jesus Can Work It Out" to new generations. However, a look back at Rev. Jordan's original lyrics are even more telling and personal than the ad libs of "baby shoes" and the targeted hype of "bling bling." At the time of the song's completion and recording at Universal Recording Studios, Jordan had just returned from the bedside of his dying mother in Detroit, introducing his new verse and testimony in time to be included on the choir's 1974 studio album, "Goodbye Loneliness."
On "Jubilee Showcase" a weekly Chicago TV Show which normally featured three acts, Rev. Jordan opened the all-Christian Tabernacle episode with a stirring live performance of the song. By popular demand, at Gospel Supreme 1976, Rev. Jordan recreated the live performance on Rev. Maceo Woods' Jesus Can Work It Out - Live!, his debut double album on Savoy.
Today, Rev. Jordan is yet active in the ministry of Christian Tabernacle. On the church's weekly telecast he is often seated in the pulpit, allowing young musicians to gain exposure. However, when he is called upon by Pastor Woods to take a lead vocal with the still-great Christian Tabernacle Choir, it is both nostalgic and refreshing. Each time, the powerful and lively performances of Rev. George Jordan is enthusiastically received, as it was by the three-thousand-plus audience at Gospel Supreme 2005.
The sixty-something Rev. Jordan is a living legend. He is making a difference - igniting and uniting the faith of many generations through his ministry of music.
Discography of Maceo Woods:
Back Again Live! (Gospel Supreme), 1993
Good News Vol.2 (Gospel Supreme), 1987
Good News Vol.1 (Gospel Supreme), 1986
Taste of Good Gospel (Savoy), 1983
Live Gospel Experience (Savoy) 1982
Bringing in the Sheaves (Savoy), 1981
Gospel Supreme Eighty (Savoy), 1980
Something Within Me (Savoy) 1979
Dwell in Me (Savoy), 1978
Happy in Jesus (Savoy), 1977
Soul and Spirit Concert (Savoy), 1977
Jesus Can Work it Out (Savoy), 1976
Goodbye Loneliness (Gospel Truth), 1975
A New Dawning (Gospel Truth), 1974
God Save Your People (Gospel Truth), 1973
Jesus People (Gospel Truth), 1972*
In Concert (Gospel Truth), 1972*
Step to Jesus (Volt), 1971*
Hello Sunshine (Volt), 1971*
Step to Jesus (Independent), 1970
Hello Sunshine (Free Sound), 1969
1952-1966 Rev. Maceo Woods (VeeJay)
(*) Denotes Re-issue
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