September 6, 2018

That Song Gave Her Chicken Skin

Did I tell you about our Love is the Thing LP?  We were backing Jimmy Dean, the country singer, on a lot of dates all over the country. He had a conductor for the orchestra named John Miller, who was an amazing talent.  It turned out, he was a great arranger too. We were in discussions with our label about a new project and John Miller offered his services as arranger/producer on seven of the songs. His style was unlike anything we were used to but it worked very well. His vocal arrangements were unique and fresh for us. I had the opportunity to arrange God Speaking to You on that LP.

On that same project was the classic, Sweet, Sweet Spirit, which Harold Lane of the Speer Family arranged for us a cappella. The song was written by Doris Akers and she had it arranged in a slow rhythm with piano accompaniment.  We recorded our version and were so happy with it, we sang it for Elvis. He loved our arrangement.

Later, the Stamps picked up the song after we had left Elvis and they did their own a cappella version, almost like ours but slightly different. It worked out great for them as they were able to sing it on the Aloha Special from Hawaii where one billion people from around the world saw it. Our timing was terrible, as we left not long before the big show and the whole world thinks the Stamps recorded it and we covered it.

In truth, the Imperials version still is done in every show we do and it never fails to receive a great response.  An example; we were in Paris for a three-week show in the early 2000’s with a famous French singer, Frank Michael. We were a supporting act for him and every night, at the famed Olympia Theatre, in Paris, we had a segment in his show. One song we included in our set was Sweet Spirit. Those Parisians didn’t understand a word of English but as we sang that song, I could see tears in their eyes. After one show, a lady came up to me and pulled at the hair on her arm. She was able to say in her broken English, that song gave me “Chicken Skin”! Our translation would be, “goosebumps.” It was her way of saying “thank you” for the song.