Just Sing (and Play): The McGruders

So, evidently, 76 years ago tomorrow¬†the first patent for an electric guitar¬†was issued to the Electro String Instrument Corporation. And while the emergence of Pentecostalism, charismatics, and other renewal heart religions from within the broader world of fundamentalist evangelicalism didn’t coincide expressly with this patenting event, certainly their music - and the gospel style - got a big boost on that long ago day. Take it away, McGruders:

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  1. tusk molarr wrote:

    Thanks for the clip– don’t know that I’ve ever seen or heard the McGruders before.
    A question for those of you who are better historians than I: are the parts of their “stage presence” that I assume Avery is referencing– the instruments, yes, but also the vocal growls, the walks up and down the stage, the jumping and gesturing– are they being imitated by secular music now, or is it the other way around?
    In other words, is this style another example of gospel music being appropriated for other uses, or is gospel music just following somebody else’s lead?
    I’d really like to know!

  2. pk wrote:

    Never understood the Apostolic way, but I lovd the McGruders. Geniune people and geniune spirit.

  3. William Boen wrote:

    The style in this clip is from the Pentecostal churches. Mr. Mcgruder is a Pentecostal preacher. I have seen them several times and they always put on a great concert or service, whichever you prefer.

  4. Bones wrote:

    Someone told me he is the most hateful mean person he ever booked. The concert did not sell well and he demanded his money. I wouldn’t go next door to hear him.

  5. SG_Obzerver wrote:

    I remember when I first “discovered” the McGruders just when this live concert recording came out. Their style, energy and unique brand of music ministry was a breath of fresh air and stood out among the field of cookie-cutter wannabes of that era. Going to a McGruderas concert was truly an experience. Our group had the pleasure of performing on the same concert with them several times and they were always very warm and engaging. Priscilla usually spent time in prayer out in their bus before a concert and when she hit the stage it was evident. It was amazing to see this soft-spoken, humble and meek lady transform into this fierce and fearless Gospel song beast on stage. She was definitely one of a kind and the McGruders were the real deal.

  6. sensible wrote:

    Here is another song from the same concert. They did “I’m Just Warming Up” far better than the Freemans did it in my opnion. Amazing band with the power of God on the singers and the songs.


  7. Wade wrote:

    Bones et al — One of the most successful concerts I ever promoted was The McGruders and Ponders, Sykes and Wright!! Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum!!!

    The crowd for both was GREAT!!!

    I will tell you this… It was one of the most pleasant experiences I have ever had promoting a concert!!

    Both groups were EXTREMELY PROFESSIONAL and easy to work with. No fussing about who was going to go on first or last, no back biting about about WHO’S Merch Table was going to be where. No worries about money. No crying over all the other stuff I have had to deal with from some of the BIGGEST names on the road today!!!

    Whoever told you he was hateful must have had some kind of other issue!!!

    I miss The McGruders!!! If Priscilla had not became sick I would have used them ANY TIME I COULD!!!

    Also I can say the same about PSW… I wished they would have a reunion tour. I might come out of retirement from the gospel music BS and promote their concert!!!

    Glad to see I had the same experience as SG Observer!!

  8. carl wrote:

    Task Molarr, your question is directed to good historians and I’m not one but I’m curious and persistent enough to dig around and critical enough to question what I find.

    Great question you have there. I’m offering you my take on it. IMO, there is a distinct performance style associated with the main branch of oneness pentecostals (i.e., historically the two groups who didn’t join with the Assemblies or the GoGiC back in about 1915).

    Check out these senior citizen singers from that tradition on YouTube to see what I mean about that distinct style: Vesta Mangun, Bobby Shoemake, Ruby MacKellar, Jean Urshan. They’re contraltos that almost sound baritone sometimes, who can belt but with fairly good timbre, who style like country (sometimes rock) or blues divas, and who often talk a lyric for a bit (i.e., sprechstimme). They mess with meter and melody like the pros they are. The point you asked about: they’re not copying anybody except each other. The oldest examples of that style go back way more than 50 years and if I could find recordings older than that I’ll bet that style would be there. The performance style is so distinctive that the first time I heard a recording of Priscilla McGruder I knew she just had to be associated somehow with a church that at least had something to do with the United Pentecostal Church International.

    A couple of middle aged singers who carry on that tradition are Mickey Mangun (higher register, though) and Nancy Grandquist. There are younger singers and musicians following in their stylistic footsteps, even some in the larger SGM industry.

  9. T-Rick wrote:

    I thought that was a young Brian Free on the left for just a minute.

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