I have said it before and I will say it again: there is no musical instrument quite like the human voice. In the hands of an expert, it is an instrument without equal for power and emotion. While we at Bluesrockers tend to review mostly musicians and bands, occasionally I receive a recording here of a vocalist so extraordinarily overpowering that I cannot help but write about them.

“Springfield”, the first solo recording of the late Carole Fredericks is just such an incredible recording. Ms. Fredericks, the youngest sister of US music icon Taj Mahal, was surely one of the more gifted and blessed vocalists of her generation. She spent a good portion of her life living and
performing in France, where she was laid to rest with unusual honor following her most tragic and untimely death in 2001 at the much too young age of 49.

“Springfield” is a collection of 14 excellent tracks, with 12 containing Carole Fredericks’ original lyrics. The material is mostly gospel, blues, and R&B flavored with a dash of rock or funk thrown every now and then for extra seasoning. Ms. Fredericks was accompanied on this set by the wonderfully talented Lafayette Inspirational Ensemble of Brooklyn, NY. The musicians here are also world class and the band is tight, talented, and more than a match for every style represented here. There is even a most enjoyable duet featuring Ms. Fredericks and her famous brother Taj Mahal.

But at the center of it all is the incredible voice, energy, and spirit that was and always will be Carole Fredericks. Ms. Fredericks was born in the same year as I which made us subject to many of the same musical influences. And, having grown up in a household where my late Father loved Mahalia Jackson, I found myself somewhat spellbound by this recording. Like Mahalia Jackson, AlbertinaWalker, and other great gospel singers of that era, Carole Fredericks music spoke deeply to me and stirred many emotions and memories, both good and bad. Not at all strange, as these are real songs about real life, songs of faith, of struggles, of love and joy, and ultimately of victory. You see, gospel music and the blues are closely related. They tell the same stories of life, one from a secular and one from a spiritiual point of view, but both with a genuine and often brutal honesty.

There is so much fabulous music here, but if I were to point you to one track on the set, it would be the Carole Fredericks original song “Change”, which seems to me to be an accurate capsule representation of what Carole Fredericks was, is, and will always be: powerful, emotional vocals presenting a very personal story of the battles of life being overcome by grace, redemption and a faith and hope available to all of mankind.

On June 7, 2001 Carole Fredericks and her tremendous talent left this world to answer a call that eminated from somewhere within the World To Come. Her spirit lives on through the songs of”Springfield” and the others she left behind. The Spirit that was within her remains today calling anyone who will listen to the same life of peace, hope , and infectious joy that characterized Ms.Fredericks’ brief time here. Her family and those she touched in this life know they will see her and hear that blessed voice again as a part of the everlasting choir.

If you are a fan of gospel or blues vocals, you will want to own a copy of “Springfield” and other of Carole Fredericks’ recordings. Please be sure to visit the official Carol Fredericks web site at www.cdfmusiclegacy.com for more information about the life of this remarkable artist. You may also purchase the CD and listen to soundsamples at CDBaby.com.

1. Save My Soul
2. Reachin’
3. You Had It Comin
4. Shine
5. Jesus In Me
6. Run Away Love
7. No Rain
8. Change
9. Let Him Be Blues
10. Reason To Stay
11. Tender Love
12. Oh HappyDay
13. So I Pray
14. Silent Night

Copyright 1996 JAG

© Bluesrockers 2006


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