Friday, August 31, 2012

Home of the Soul: The Whitney Brothers Quartet

Left to right: Alvin, Edwin, William and Yale Whitney.

Home of the Soul is a gospel song recorded by the Whitney Brothers Quartet from September 7 to September 9, 1909 at the Victor studio in Camden, New Jersey and released on Victor (16372).

Between October 1908 and September 1909, the Whitney Brothers Quartet recorded 25 songs for Victor. 1908 - Smiling Morn, The Cheerful Wanderer, Sally In Our Alley, Excelior and The Little Red Drum. 1909 - How Can I Leave Thee?, Santa Lucia, Forsaken, Love's Old Sweet Song, The Hunter's Song, The Bluebells of Scotland, Jesus Savior Pilot Me, Dixie, Old Folks At Home, Galilee, Eternity, Home Of The Soul, Jesus Is Calling, Light Of Life, Nearer My God To Thee, The Light Of The World, Remember Me, O Mighty One, The Bugle Song, Grace Be Unto You and Kitty McGee.

The Whitney Brothers Quartet, who hailed from Rochester, New York, consisted of four sons: Alvin, Yale, Edwin and William Whitney. The sons of Methodist minister, James Edwin Whitney, Alvin sang first tenor, Edwin second tenor, William sang first bass and Yale second bass. Edwin would also give recitations that would more than please every crowd.

According to one critic, It was rare to find in one family four gifted brothers, rarer to find four possessing the same gift, rarer yet to find four brothers with voices so attuned that they can assume the several parts in a quartet and rarest of all to find four whose esprit de corps, close sympathy and magnificent team work enable them to give a program of such beauty, harmony, balance and high appeal. The Whitney's compel laughter or tears and will, delight the ear, warm the heart, in an evening that is unique and artistic, Simply put, the Whitney's were irrestible and sure to please. I like how the critic also used the word, lollapoluzah, to describe the four brothers.

The Whitney's stopped touring at the end of 1908.

This historic record, Home of the Soul - which is a part of my 78 r.p.m. collection - celebrates its 103rd birthday next week.

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