Bessie Griffin

Bessie Griffin (July 6, 1922 – April 10, 1989) was an African American gospel singer. Born Arlette B. Broil in New Orleans, Louisiana, she was steeped in church music as a child. She sang for a while with the Southern Harps, had her own radio show in New Orleans, and later appeared in night clubs, on Broadway and in 1962 on the Ed Sullivan Show. Griffin performed briefly with Queen of Gospel Albertina Walker & The Caravans in 1953 but spent most of her career as a solo artist. While often compared to Mahalia Jackson, Griffin had a lighter contralto that allowed her to achieve more vocal pyrotechnics --- holding a note for long periods of time, continuing a song for as long as twenty minutes and ranging through three octaves. Griffin began her known recording career with the Gospel Consolators, an a'capella group in New Orleans, in the late 1940's. They issued several 78 rpm shellac records with her billed as lead vocalist. She later recorded several singles on various labels. After moving to Chicago in the early 1950's, she recorded briefly with the Caravans gospel group led by Albertina Walker. After moving to Los Angeles she was signed by Art Rupe of the Specialty label. After collaboration with Robert Bumps Blackwell, she recorded an album on the Decca label with an orchestra: It Takes A Lot of Love; Portraits in Bronze on the Liberty label, and joined the lucrative night club circuit singing and recording gospel albums in night clubs in the 1960's. She recorded a sol...

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