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The Como Mamas: Move Upstairs

James Nadal By

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It is said, good things come to those who wait. Gospel singing trio, The Como Mamas, were quietly going about their lives, when in 2005, producer Michael Reilly, stumbled upon them in their hometown of Como, in Panola County, Mississippi. The Como Mamas are Ester Mae Wilbourn, Della Daniels, and Angela Taylor. They first appeared on the gospel compilation Como Now, in 2008, for Daptone Records, which in 2013 released Get An Understanding, recorded acapella in the Mount Mariah CME Church, in Como.

In late 2015, after a successful three night engagement at the famed Apollo Theater, in Harlem, they recorded Move Upstairs at Daptone House of Soul, in Brooklyn, New York. Backing them on this session are the labels' house band aka The Glorifiers Band, who have backed everyone from Amy Winehouse to Sharon Jones, and are as tight a rhythm section as one could find. The songs are structured on the standard gospel call and response arrangements, and the band plays their supporting role to perfection, never crowding or drowning out the vocals.

The trio has been singing together in the fore-mentioned church forever, and their absolute commitment to sacred music is evident. Wilbourn has a potent raspy voice, is the principal singer on most of the songs, and draws her inspiration from her personal conviction throughout her arduous life. Daniels, has a smoother tone, is the groups' spiritual leader, and always had an affinity for singing, even receiving an invitation, in younger days, to record in Nashville, but never went. Taylor is Daniels' younger sister, and her deep resounding voice rounds out the Como Mamas sound.

Opening with the title track, Wilbourn establishes a soulful pace, tempering it a bit for "Out Of The Wilderness," before Daniels takes over lead spot on the funk tinged "Count Your Blessings." They cover Dorothy Love and the Original Gospel Harmonettes with "He's Calling Me," and churn out the perennial classic "99 And A Half Won't Do." Wilbourn keeps the fires burning strong on "I Can't Thank Him Enough," that sounds like a throwback to the golden age of soul music, and they give the band a break on "Glory Glory Hallelujah," going back to their acapella roots. Daniels reprises as lead singer on the final track "I Know I've Been Changed," the emotional chorus bringing the revival to a rousing finale.

This record is an authentic representation of gospel as American roots music. Acknowledgement is due to Daptone Records for their continuing support of these ladies; and to Music Maker Relief Foundation, which is assisting in career development and artist management. The Como Mamas are spiritual survivors, a throwback to the humble origins of the music, and their unwavering faith is being rewarded.

Track Listing: Move Upstairs; Out Of The Wilderness; Count Your Blessings; He’s Calling Me; 99 And A Half Won’t Do; Almighty God Mighty God; I Can’t Thank Him Enough; So Good To Me; Glory Glory Hallelujah; He’s Mine; I Know I’ve Changed.

Personnel: Ester Mae Wilbourn: vocals; Della Daniels: vocals; Angelia Taylor: vocals; Jimmy Hill: organ, piano; Homer Steinweiss: drums; Bosco Mann: bass; Thomas Brenneck: guitar.

Title: Move Upstairs | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Daptone Records


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