The Jubalaires was one of the better black vocal harmony groups of the 1940s. As Howard Rye has pointed out, they were essentially a gospel group that also sang secular material. While, as Rye opines, “they are slick and commercial…for a gospel group,” they certainly provide a great deal of entertainment for a dime in their three Soundies.
The group recorded as the Golden Harmony Singers in 1941 but had renamed themselves The Jubalaires by the time they recorded in October 1943. In addition to activities in the recording studio, the Jubalaires were regulars on CBS radio in the mid-1940’s, including stints on the Arthur Godfrey Show and the Phil Harris Show. The quartet played such venues as the Apollo Theater and, in the mid 1940s, toured the deep South. The Jubalaires then headed out to California where they signed on to replace the Delta Rhythm Boys on the Amos & Andy radio series.
The accompanying guitarist on this series of Soundies was Everette Barksdale, one of the finest jazz guitarists of the 1940 and ‘50s. While he is an adept single string soloist, here he works in the chordal manner that we associate with George Van Eps and Allan Reuss.
“Brother Bill” was written by Louis Armstrong, one of a relative few “pop songs” composed by this jazz giant. Louis performed this song regularly during the war years and revisited it as late as 1960s. Our performance by the Jubalaires is a joyful romp with an infectious rhythm. Stylistically they remind me of the Golden Gate Quartet, although their sound is unique. This is truly a hidden gem in the World of Soundies.