(“The gospel one”)
Berry Gordy Jr. formed a number of Motown subsidiary labels during 1962. Divinity, one of the least-known labels in the Motown stable, was conceived as a dedicated imprint for spiritual and gospel music. A couple of gospel sides had come out on Motown and Tamla during the first few years of Motown’s existence (the Golden Harmoneers’ I Am Bound, the Gospel Stars’ He Lifted Me, Rev. Columbus Mann’s They Shall Be Mine), and so Gordy decided it was high time that music of a religious bent had its own specialist label.
Motown writer, producer and organist George Fowler was given the task of running the new gospel imprint, and the first release on Divinity was That’s What He Is To Me by the Wright Specials, whose pianist happened to be Fowler’s brother.
Gospel was meant to be useful for picking up sales from hitherto-neglected audiences at minimal cost; however, Divinity Records was given little attention, and Gordy eventually folded the label in late 1963. Only four singles were ever released on Divinity; a fifth, Liz Lands’ We Shall Overcome, was cut that September but never saw release. (The song itself eventually appeared on Gordy Records as a double A-side with a speech by none other than Martin Luther King, but legal wrangles prevented it from coming out until 1968.) The Gospel Stars’ Give God A Chance was the last actual Divinity release, in July 1963.
All the singles ever released on Divinity Records have now been covered on Motown Junkies. Here’s a complete list.
DIVINITY RECORDS: COMPLETE 45 DISCOGRAPHY
- THE WRIGHT SPECIALS: That’s What He Is To Me / Pilgrim Of Sorrow (Divinity 99004, July 1962)
- THE BURNADETTES: First, You’ve Got To Recognize God / I’m Going Home (Divinity 99007, May 1963)
- THE WRIGHT SPECIALS: Ninety-Nine And A Half Won’t Do / I Won’t Go Back (Divinity 99005, June 1963)
- THE GOSPEL STARS: Give God A Chance / Have You Any Time For Jesus (Divinity 99006, July 1963)
- LIZ LANDS: We Shall Overcome / Trouble In This Land (Divinity 99008, unreleased)
(Click a song title to read a full review of that side. NB: The coloured numbers after each title indicate the highly subjective mark out of ten I gave that song on the day I happened to write about it. They weren’t intended to be taken too seriously.)