LA052 Interview: Albert Veal (LA052Abbott_Side1)
Side 1 and 2: Interview with Albert Veal on 1982-07-17. Abstract for Veal: [00:00-46:37] Albert Veal recalls his experiences in Houston, Texas with the Humming Four in 1939 and doing multiple programs with the Pilgrim Travelers and the Five Soulsters. He explains how the Humming Four were the first to include five-part harmonies in their songs while other quartets only had four – 9:00. He comments on Paul Exkano's emotional style of singing, and how the Humming Four were also the first to let the leader, who sings the melody, step out and "go wild" while the other members stayed in the background – 12:30. Veal remembers leaving Houston after two months and missing the farewell program, and after the rest of the group returned he went to Baton Rouge to join the Pilgrim Travelers before he went to the Navy in 1941 – 25:43. He says that when the Humming Four got together after WWII he suggested staying away from the "hard gospel" style, even though it was gaining popularity. He then discusses Paul Exkano, how he left the group for the Soproco Singers, and that their other group member, Edward Thomas, took it personally. Veal tells a story about the Soproco Singers inviting him to sing with them on a program that the Humming Four were also performing in. He says that the Humming Four asked him to sing with them instead, so he ended up not singing with either group to avoid animosity. Veal then names popular groups from after WWII, including the Bluejays, Dixie Hummingbirds, Alabama Blind Boys, and the Spirit of Memphis. [00:00-46:32] The interview with Albert Veal continues on LA052Abbott_Side2 with a discussion of the Gibbs Singers and their similarities in song and style to the Red Rose quartet and the Duncan Brothers due to the influence of Gilbert Porterfield. Veal claims that if you weren't looking at them, you couldn't tell who was singing – 5:18. He recalls a program where the Humming Four and the Gibbs Singers sang the same song, and the audience liked the Humming Four version better. Veal mentions the Humming Four being a staple at New Orleans theatres, clubs, and festivals in the 1930s and 1940s. He talks about borrowing members of other groups who sang the same songs in the same style as them for events where not all of the Humming Four could be present – 18:00. Veal then speaks about Sandy Newell and a choir made up of quartet singers to whom Newell taught shape-note singing. He mentions that Newell was impressed by the Birmingham Jubilee Singers and the Golden Gates Gospel Train, the latter of which Newell claims were going to take over the country after the release of their first record – 28:52. Veal shares an anecdote about the audition that led the Humming Four to sing with Fats Matthews and influenced them to make blues records as The Hawks – 30:09.