LA094 Interview: Frank Davis (LA094Abbott_Side1)
Side 1 and 2: Interview with Frank Davis on 1984-01-14 and 1984-01-16. Abstract for Davis: [00:00–30:45] Frank Davis discusses styles and training of gospel quartets in New Orleans. The interview highlights the influence of Gilbert Porterfield, one of the "premiere quartet trainers" in New Orleans, and the influence national televised quartets had on local singing styles – 07:03, including the "preacher style" of quartet singing – 09:20 and the "buck-lead" style –10:10. Davis goes on to speak about being an emotional lead singer – 12:20, and the connection of the music to the church and family memories. Davis describes the influence of the Golden Gate quartet and other televised quartets, and how their styles ranged from rhythmic spirituals to less rigid styles – 13:33. He speaks particularly of how Louis Armstrong's recording of "When the Saints Go Marching In" took the song out of its spiritual context and moved it into jazz, causing a "religious uproar" – 18:09. The conversation leads into a discussion about quartets singing in different tempos, and the controversy that caused between religious and secular worlds. Davis discusses shining, or dancing, in the church, and how that differed from dancing in the barroom – 21:40. He concludes with a discussion about the formation and style of the self-taught Heavenly Gates – 24:55, and how the style of gospel quartets evolved since that time. [00:00–30:47] On LA094Abbott_Side2 Davis and Abbott compare traditional styles with more current forms of quartet singing, in addition to discussing reception of quartets both in New Orleans and regionally. The two discuss a peak in the singing's popularity once it was played on the radio – 09:45, and how the format has changed more recently as it moved away from the quartet concept – 11:45. Davis describes how singing was "a form of communication between the slaves" – 13:39, sharing how messages were relayed between enslaved people in songs. The interview continues with a discussion of shape note singing – 17:25, and concludes with a final discussion of Gilbert Porterfield and his contribution to the style of New Orleans quartets – 19:30.