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Charles Albert Tindley, Becca Wintle and tears.


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Charles Albert Tindley
 Charles Albert Tindley 

Charles Albert Tindley was born in 1851 (when slavery was still legal in the United States) and left this world in 1933.

Almost one century later, the lyrics of his songs still draw tears on the cheeks of the listeners.

A methodist minister, he wrote several gospel hymns.

Born of an enslave father and a free mother, he was declared free, according to the Slave Code.

He could never go to school, but learned by himself and with help from relatives, later on even with a correspondence course.

As a young adult, he settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,  with his wife and worked as a brick carrier. Without any degree, he qualified for ordination by examination. 

He first served as an itinerant pastor in Maryland, New Jersey and Deleware and later became a pastor in charge of a congregation, where he had been working earlier as a volunteer janitor. He made this congregation thrive and worked for it to be multiracial.

Some people today call him the father of modern American gospel.

More on Charles Albert Tindley (Wikipedia English).

His songs and hymns

Gospels type, one of them "I'll Overcome Someday" is often seen as a basis for "We Shall Overcome", an hymn for the civil rights partisans. It has been sung by Joan Baez and Pete Seeger, among many others.

Video : Pete Seeger : Shall Overcome.

Video : Joan Baez - We shall overcome - March on Washington - Live 1963

Video : Take your burden to the Lord and Leave it there - Joey + Rory. A nice performance, althought Charles Albert Tindley's name does not appear on the page.

Video : I'll Overcome Someday - P.M. Adamson.

Charles Albert Tindley, biographier - biography. - Jam Hall
Charles Albert Tindley, biographier - biography.

Out of time

A few years ago, on a Sunday morning, in a wooden house  somewhere in the United States, during an Old Time Music meeting and workshop, the teachers chose to sing gospel songs.

Male voices joined female ones, one could feel believers and atheists (I am one) immersed in a peaceful and sweet atmosphere. Refinement of the guitars, mandolins, banjos and fiddles contributes to the beauty.

Each teacher on their turn suggested a gospel song of thier choosing. One of the teachers, Becca Wintle, chose "What Are They Doing in Heaven Today". This is how I first met Mr Charles Albert Tindley, throught the beautiful and moving voice and music of this young fiddler. And this is one of my best musical and poetic memories.

But... you wrote about tears, at the top of this post, didn't you ?

Yes, I did. For the listeners of "What Are They Doing in Heaven Today", sometimes. For the performers too. I know, I am one, for this song is one of my favorites now.

Vidéo : Becca Wintle (on fiddle, left, ) during a jam at Clifftop, among many talented musicians.

Fiddler Becca Wintle - Jam Hall
Fiddler Becca Wintle

Article rédigé par Ti' Pierre

Audio : another cover of What Are They Doing in Heaven Today by the Scot band Mogwaï.

Many thanks to Célia Chalfoun for checking the translation and for the corrections.