Documentary discussing the “Jefferson County Sound,” airs on APT
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — They came from the coal mines and steel mills of Alabama, raising their voices to the sky. They sang hymns and spirituals with vivid and complex harmonies, attacking the tunes like the devil himself.
They were gospel quartets, hailing mostly from Birmingham and Bessemer, performing at home and on the road. Their heyday was the 1930s to 1950s, but their vocal music influenced doo-wop, soul and R&B groups that followed.
Their traditions linger today, popularized by the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Birmingham Sunlights, the Fairfield Four and other gospel troupes. “We had a shouting good time,” says Auguster Maul, lead singer of the Delta Aires.
They’re one of several quartets featured in “The Jefferson County Sound,” a new documentary by Birmingham native Robert Clem. The hourlong film aired on Alabama Public Television on Feb. 6, and will get another screening there at 7 p.m. Feb. 14.