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John Petters, jazz drummer and historian, to talk in Holbeach on the history of Gospel




Jazz drummer and historian, John Petters, will be giving an animated talk in Holbeach on Tuesday, December 10 - all about the history of Gospel music.

As a special event for Advent, he will speak at the Holy Trinity Church, in Foxes Lowe Road, at 7.30pm.

Called ‘Amazing Grace - the Story of Gospel Music’ he’ll cover how the genre has developed through the ages.

American jazz legends, Wild Bill Davison and Art Hodes, pictured with John Petters taken while touring in 1989.(23220638)
American jazz legends, Wild Bill Davison and Art Hodes, pictured with John Petters taken while touring in 1989.(23220638)

For instance, did you know that Amazing Grace was written on a slave ship and taken up by black slaves, scattered across the Americas?

The slaves, he explains, brought their religion and their music to the new world and became Christians.

“Their sufferings found expression in camp hollers, work songs, the blues, and more importantly the spiritual,” he said.

Jazz historian and drummer John Petters. (23220640)
Jazz historian and drummer John Petters. (23220640)

John tells how jazz grew up in New Orleans, and bands played hymns and spirituals for funerals. Itinerant folk/blues guitarists and singers spread the gospel all over the Deep South.

Based in Long Sutton, John has been a professional musician for over 30 years, and has worked with some of the artists who will be featured in the presentation at the church.

He regularly performs his Gospel concert, ‘Walkin’ with the King,’ at churches up and down the country.

He is a published writer on jazz, having written for Jazz Journal International and Just Jazz Magazine.

John Petters at the 1995 first performance of his “Walkin’ With The King” Gospel show at St Peter’s Church, Wisbech, which featured the New Orleans Gospel star, Lady Linda Young and the legendary Tuba ‘Fats’ Lacen. (23220631)
John Petters at the 1995 first performance of his “Walkin’ With The King” Gospel show at St Peter’s Church, Wisbech, which featured the New Orleans Gospel star, Lady Linda Young and the legendary Tuba ‘Fats’ Lacen. (23220631)

He was a consultant on the BBC4 documentary, ‘Trad Jazz Britannia.’ He also regularly gives presentations at festivals, music clubs and U3A groups.

The talk will be illustrated with rare archive recordings and film clips of blues singers Leadbelly, Josh White and Big Bill Bronzy. Harlem pianist and organist Fats Waller will be included, as will gospel divas Mahalia Jackson, Sr Rosetta Tharpe, Clara Ward, Dinah Washington and Aretha Franklin.

Superstar Ray Charles and gospel groups the Golden Gate Quartet and the Paramount Jubilee Singers will feature as well.

Admission for the event is free. There will be a charity collection and refreshments available.

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