Peacock Gospel Classics
MCA Records Dives Deep into Gospel

With the growing popularity of Gospel music over recent years, many record labels have leaped into the market with high hopes, with those hopes based on newly recruited rostersPeacock Gospel Classics of contemporary-sounding Gospel artists. MCA Records has taken a different approach.

While MCA has been around for decades, Gospel music has not been a focus for the label, apart for a time when Vickie Winans was signed to them. Since the launch of the exhaustive Peacock Gospel Classic series in fall 1998, that has obviously changed.

With 26 albums planned for the series, the Peacock Gospel Classics represent not only a collector's item, but also a significant opportunity to examine the roots of Gospel with a view to an appreciation of where Gospel is today.

Peacock was a thriving independent record label which emerged from its Houston base after World War II, under the wily directionRev. Cleophus Robinson of Don Robey. While by no means confined to Gospel music, the label obviously recognized the staying power of Gospel, and throughout the 1950s to the 1970s signed and recorded some of the greatest Gospel artists of all time.

Over the decades, MCA has acquired the vast catalog of Gospel performances from Peacock, as well as from other back-in-the-day Dixie Hummingbirdslabels such as Chess, ABC and Decca. Recently, the label has also obtained the Gospel catalogue from the Gospel-famous Nashboro label. Marilyn Batchelor, who as senior director for marketing is spearheading this new direction for MCA, states it this way: "the plan is to take advantage of the wonderful music in our vault, give it an identity of its own, and get ourselves ready for the world of Gospel and its increasing stronghold on the market."

Although not all of the material in the Peacock Gospel Classic series originated from the original Peacock label, MCA is putting them all under the Peacock moniker.

As of summer 1999, the series includes these titles:
  • Inez Andrews - Headline News
  • Gentlemen Of Gospel - We Are Soldiers
  • Gospel Choirs - Through The Years
  • Gospel Groups - Over In Glory
  • Dixie Hummingbirds - Thank You For One More Day
  • Aretha Franklin - You Grow Closer
  • Tessie Hill - I Must Tell Jesus
  • Mahalia Jackson - I'm Home Over There
  • Little Richard - God Is Real
  • The Staple Singers - Too Close
  • The Williams Brothers - Trust In The Lord
  • Ladies Of Gospel - Precious Memories
At the same time as these classics are being vaulted back into retail, MCA is preparing for a number of new artist releases on the Gospel side. Included in the roster is Ametria, an 18-year-old rhythm 'n praise vocalist out of Atlanta, and two young Detroit-based Youth Editionfemale artists, Pam & Dody, who have been honing their vocal gifts on the Gospel play circuit over the past couple of years. The label has also taken on the distribution of Chicago's urban male group, Youth Edition, and is poised to take on the Gospel projects from any of the artists on their mainstream roster (could this mean the long-rumored Patti Labelle Gospel album is near reality, or maybe even K-Ci and JoJo?).

It's an interesting story, and one that is sure to unfold with some surprises along the way. Gospel awaits to see what yet another recording giant has to offer it.

? article by Stan North ?

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