The trio of singers, who come from a family of 10 children, join Fresh Air's Danny Miller to talk about their faith, religious and musical upbringing, and admiration for soul and jazz singers of the '50s and '60s.
Ira Tucker will replace founder James Davis as the lead singer of the long-running gospel group. The ensemble inspired the vocal styles of several secular soul and R&B singers. Tucker talks about keeping the faith while on the road.
Bernice Johnson Reagon, singer, cultural historian and director of Smithsonian's Program in Black American Culture. Reagon sings contralto with Sweet Honey in the Rock, one of the country's leading a cappella groups. She's been described as a "song shaper and song preserver." In her work with the Smithsonian, Reagon tries to maintain obscure and dying Baptist choral traditions.
In the first of a two-part profile, Fresh Air's rock historian looks back at the 5 Royales. They started off as a mediocre gospel group from North Carolina before evolving into a distinctive rhythm and blues vocal ensemble signed to Apollo Records.
Singer and civil rights worker Benice Johnson Reagon studied Euro-classical music in college, During her time in the Freedom Singers, she returned to her gospel roots. She joins Fresh Air to talk about how she combined her musical talents with her activism.
Soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples. As a member of the Staple singers for more than 30 years, she's had hits like "Respect Yourself," and "I'll Take You There," which went to Number One in the early 70s. Mavis Staples has also made several solo albums during the 70s and 80s. Mavis Staples was featured in Prince's 1988 "Lovesexy" tour, and Prince produced Staples new album, "Time Waits For No One." (Rebroadcast. Original date 6/2/89).