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Stax Records is synonymous with Southern soul music. The company was founded in 1959 in Memphis, Tennessee by Jim Stewart and his sister, Estelle Axton. The record label took its name from the first two letters of their last names. Among the many artists who scored hits on Stax during the 60s and 70s were Rufus and Carla Thomas, Booker T. & the MGs , Sam and Dave, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, and Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and the Staple Singers

Stax Records is one of the most popular soul music record labels of all time – second only to Motown in sales and influence, but first in gritty, raw, stripped-down soul music. In 15 years, Stax placed more than 167 hit songs in the Top 100 on the pop charts, and a staggering 243 hits in the Top 100 R&B charts.

You Need A Friend Like Mine - Annette Thomas

On a recent flight while listening to a collection of Stax recordings on the airlines in-flight entertainment system, I discovered one of the lesser known artists, Annette Thomas, the daughter of the famous Gospel singer, Brother Joe May. She began performing with her father at the age of five and regularly shared the stage with the Rev. C.L. Franklin and his daughter Aretha.

Annette continued as a Gospel singer until the 1970s when she decided to give secular music a try. She did background work for comedian Jerry Lewis and singer Robert Goulet.  Jerry Lewis’ musical director became Annette’s manager and arranged a contract for her with Stax Records.

The song that I heard while in flight was written by Frederick Knight who was a “one-hit wonder” with his single, “I’ve Been Lonely For So Long.” in 1972. The song was on the chart for 10 weeks and reached number 22.

You Need A Friend Like Mine/ What Good Is A Song

Knight wrote the song “You Need a Friend Like Mine” and thought it would be ideal for the Staples Singers. Instead it was given to Annette Thomas in 1975. After her song didn’t sell Annette decided to change her career. She became the manager for the Rev. James Cleveland, the King of Gospel Music.

Annette’s rendition of You Need a Friend like Mine begins with a jazzy snippet of the Hallelujah Chorus in the background. You can read the lyrics below but to get the full impact, you can hear her sing it at http://www.jango.com/music/Annette+Thomas or https://youtu.be/LS3niwkGKk0.

When your soul gets hungry and you need somebody to feed you now,

And when your burdens get heavy you need someone to ease them now,

When that old road you’re on comes to a dead end and stormy weather don’t seem to end

You need a friend like mine.

If you’re searching for a silver lining, I know a Man who will help you find it

You need a friend like mine. Why don’t you call Him?

If you’re out of tune with the song you’re singing, don’t change the song just let Him rearrange it

You need a friend like mine.

When you get up every day and you feel a wreck, just put your feet on the floor and He’ll do the rest.

And when your heart begins to bleed I know a Man who supplies your every need.

You need a friend like mine. Why don’t you call Him?

The friend that Annette sings about is Jesus who told his disciples they were his friends and He was willing to lay down his life for them. (John 15:12-15). Jesus is my friend and that friend relationship is available to everyone. You need a friend like mine. Why don’t you call on Him?

Jamie Jenkins

*Special credit is given to the following websites for information I gleaned from them. https://soundcloud.com/sisterssingsoul/episode-49-thelma-jones-annette-thomas

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stax_Records

 

Aaron Copeland music quote

I am not a musician and I have no formal musical training but I do enjoy and value a variety of music. Martin Luther and I agree, “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”

A few years ago USA Today included Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in a list of “10 great places to be enthralled by heavenly music.” The people that filled the church sanctuary last Sunday night would agree with that claim. The 75 voice Chancel Choir accompanied by a 35 piece orchestra and 27 members of the Georgia Boy Choir offered the 25th Anniversary presentation of The Many Moods of Christmas, a spectacular program of Christmas music.

Tonight my wife and I plan to join friends to “celebrate the season through song” at a Coffee House Concert. I am looking forward to enjoying the coffee and desserts along with friends and members of the community where I live.

Then tomorrow night my wife and I will attend “Jesus and Aretha: The King and Queen of Soul” at Inman Park United Methodist Church. Publicity for this event cautions that we should not “expect the usual Christmas pageant. It’s more meaningful that Hallmark-y, more rock-and-roll than church-y, and lots of fun!” I can hardly wait.

Then on Saturday night we plan to attend the Georgia Boy Choir concert featuring all five levels of boys, a full orchestra, and lots of audience participation including Atlanta’s largest “Twelve Days of Christmas Sing-along.” And next Monday we hope to be present at the Red Clay Theater for Joe Gransden’s Big Band Holiday Show with special guest, Francine Reed.

These events complement what I hear everywhere during this season of the year and affirms Edgar Winter’s assertion that “music is very spiritual, it has the power to bring people together.” Music gives wings to the soul and teaches it to fly. And especially Christmas music.

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The sacred songs of the season are especially meaningful but who doesn’t love to hear and sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman. The peppy tunes of Here Comes Santa Claus and Jingle Bells bring a smile to your face and you can’t keep from patting your feet. And you cannot help but become a bit nostalgic when you hear the smooth sounds of White Christmas.

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Friedrich Nietzsche said “without music, life would be a mistake.” I agree but I must admit that when I hear “Rocking around the Christmas tree, have a happy holiday” on the radio or in a shopping mall for what seems like the 10,000th time, I cringe and wonder if life is really any better because of that song.

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The legendary musician, Ray Charles, said **Music is like breathing. I don’t get tired of breathing and I don’t get tired of music.” Neither do I, Ray. And especially Christmas music.

Jamie Jenkins