Marie Knight: The Gospel Truth Live
Review by Willard Manus

Marie Knight was one of the shining lights in the golden age of gospel (1940-1960), a powerful, passionate singer who had an illustrious career not only accompanying Sister Rosetta Tharpe but soloing at numerous venues around the country. She also ventured into r&b territory, scoring hits with such songs as “Come Tomorrow” and “Cry Me a River.”
In 1980 she dropped out of the music business, took a day job,
serving on weekends as a pastor at the Gates of Prayer Church in Harlem. She was rediscovered in 2003 by Mark Carpentieri, head of M.C. Records, who invited her to take part in his “Shout Sister, Shout!” compilation. That was followed in 2007 by “Let Us Get Together: A Tribute to Rev. Gary Davis,” also on the M.C. label. Knight went on tour for a year, taped a BBC radio special in 2009, then retired after suffering a major stroke.

Now Carpentieri has posthumously released another Marie Knight album, THE GOSPEL TRUTH LIVE, which was recorded in 2007 at a gospel festival in Church Street Center, North Adams, Mass. On it, the still-vigorous Knight raises the roof with her version of such classics as “Didn’t It Rain,” “Twelve Gates to the City” and “How I Love Jesus.” She also talks to the audience, sometimes teasing and joking, other times preaching from the heart. The climax comes when she closes out the concert with heart-stopping versions of “Closer Walk With Thee” and “For Thine is the Kingdom.” Here’s more good news for Marie Knight fans: two plays about her are presently being performed across in the USA, “Marie and Rosetta” and “Shout Sister Shout: The Musical.”