|Country Of origin:||United States of America|
A Billboard-charting singing group whose career spanned seven different decades, the Angelic Gospel Singers formed in Philadelphia in 1944. Sisters Margaret Allison and Josephine McDowell started the Singers as a quartet with friends Ella Mae Norris and Lucille Shird. The women toured through much of the Eastern half of the U.S. before signing with Gotham Records, which released their future standard "Touch Me, Lord Jesus," in 1949. With Allison backing the group on piano, their bluesy version of the Lucie Campbell-penned hymn received national radio play and reached the Top 20 of the Billboard R&B chart.
Bernice Cole expanded the group to a quintet in 1951, before Shird and Norris left in 1953 and 1955, respectively. Cole then temporarily parted ways in 1956 due to a family illness. Meanwhile, Gotham went out of business due issues with the IRS, and after dalliances with other labels, the Angelic Gospel Singers landed at Nashboro Records, a partnership that lasted over a quarter-century.
In 1961, the sisters welcomed their first male member, Thomas Mobley, and released My Sweet Home. Subsequent albums included 1964's Songs from the Heart, 1968's Jesus Paid It All, and 1970's Somebody Saved Me before Mobley left the singers and was replaced briefly by Geraldine Morris. Cole reclaimed the spot in 1975. With gospel radio still making room for their loose, rustic sound 30 years on, Allison, McDowell, and Cole issued albums such as 1976's Gotta Find a Better Home, 1978's Margaret, Josephine and Bernice, and 1979's Come Over Here.
Pauline Taylor joined the lineup in 1982, and the Singers moved to Mississippi label Malaco for albums such as 1986's I've Got Victory and the following year's Out of the Depths, both of which hit the Top 30 of the Billboard gospel chart. Those albums also saw the singers joined by guitarist John Richmond and bass player Darryl Richmond, who stayed on as official members. The group remained with Malaco through the '90s and 2000s, issuing LPs including 1992's He's My Ever Present Help, 1995's Try God, 2000's Home in the Rock, and their final record, 2008's Touch Me Again. The Angelic Gospel Singers continued to perform live throughout that period, only bringing their 60-plus-year career to a close upon the death of leader Margaret Allison on July 30, 2008. She was 86 years old. ~ Marcy Donelson~ Rovi