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Home Blues Detroit Blues Masters Detroit Blues Masters Vol. 11 - Brother Will Hairston

Detroit Blues Masters Vol. 11 - Brother Will Hairston

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Detroit Blues Masters Vol. 11 - Brother Will Hairston

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01. My God don't like it I & II

Brother Will Hairston - vocals
+ band
Detroit, Mi. december 1955

02. The Alabama Bus I & II
03. Mighty wind
04. The Bible is right
05. Seems like a dream
06. He comes rushing like a mighty wind

Brother Will Hairston - vocals
Louis Jackson - piano
Washboard Willie - washboardd
Detroit, Mi. 1956

07. Shout school children
08. Jesus had a hard time

Brother Will Hairston - vocals
The Dixie Aires - vocals
+ band
Detroit, Mi. november 1957

09. The Story of President Kennedy
10. Holy Ghost don't leave me
11. Shout Brother Shout

Brother Will Hairston - vocals
+ band
Detroit, Mi. 1964

12. Here comes the Lord

Brother Will Hairston - vocals
Rev. Henry - vocals, guitar, drums
Detroit, Mi. 1964

13. March on to Montgomery
14. Angels watching over me

Brother Will Hairston - vocals
Louis Jackson - piano
Washboard Willie - washboardd
Detroit, Mi. 1965

15. St John
16. Reverend King had a time
17. That's alright
18. The War in Wietnam
19. When I'm gone

Brother Will Hairston - vocals
Louis Jackson or Magnolia Tillman - piano
Washboard Willie - washboardd
Detroit, Mi. 1968

20. This may be the last time
21. Minny, your dress too short
22. Death knocked at my door, Jesus got the key

Brother Will Hairston - vocals
The Greater Love of Tabernacle - vocals
+ band
Detroit, Mi. 1972

23. God's going to ring those freedom bells

Reverend Reuben L. Henry - vocals
The Dixie Aires - vocals
Detroit, Mi. november 1957


This 11th Volume of our Detroit blues series is entirely dedicated to the great Gospel singer and composer Brother Will Hairston.

Will Hairston was born 22 November 1919 at Brookfield (Ms) in a very poor faming family. At an early age, he sings in his parents' church, goes to Saint Louis for better job opportunity during the 1930's, is drafted and after the war, settles in Detroit, having a secure job at the big Chrysler's plant and marrying the young Willie with whom he'd have ten children.

A very religious man, Brother Will Hairston gains the nickname of "The Hurricane of the Motor City" for his capacity to spark enthusiasm among the faithful of his church with a strong voice and his sermons that very often reflect his own views about the situation of African-Americans.

To cope with strong requests, Mr Hairston records himself his first session with the striking My God don't like it about the slaughter of the young Black teenager Emmet Till in his hometown of Money (Ms) after he had shouted a "Bye baby" to a white girl. The photos of the mutilated corpse published in several magazines had raised a wave of indignation throughout the USA. Two other titles were recorded the same day (Let him come in; Ain't nobody there but Brother Will) that I unfortunately wasn't able to get a copy.

Brother Will Hairston sells his records from his own truck while a sound system he had hooked on the roof of his vehicle blasts the music when he is driving around!

Such is the success of Brother Will that the record producer and dealer Joe Von Battle (who of course played a major role in the Detroit blues scene) brings Hairston in his studios for an historical and magnificent 1956 session with the powerful hit Alabama Bus, the very first song about the Montgomery (Al) bus strike after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man, like she should have done according to the segregation laws. Alabama bus is also the very first song mentioning Martin Luther King Jr.

The following decade, Hairston will continue to record in this Gospel/ protest song vein, notably Shout, school children about Little Rock Central High events, forcing the integration of some black school children in a only white school; The Story of President Kennedy about the murder of JFK; Reverend King had a hard time just after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Brother Will is himself the victim of a shooting and retires from Chrysler in 1970, focusing entirely to his family and his Greater Love Tabernacle Church with which he records a last session in 1972.

Brother Will Hairston dies in Detroit 7 March 1988, leaving a vibrant, powerful and largely remarkable recording works that are unfortunately - and apart a couple of tracks - very hard to get. We have herein also included the sole 1957 record by Rev. Reuben Henry, a close friend to Hairston.

Our big thanks to Pierre Monnery and Justin Brummer for their invaluable help. And a great thank to Guido Van Rijn whose article in the very good British magazine Blues & Rhythm #167 has largely been used to write this article! ---Gérard Herzhaft, jukegh.blogspot.com

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