Canton Spirituals
Verity Records
in stores 08.28.07

From the small beginnings over 60 years ago, The Canton Spirituals have helped to revolutionize the modern Gospel quartet sound with a powerful combination of smooth harmonies and joyous lyrics layered with rousing music. The Canton Spirituals are true pioneers in Gospel music and although this is a new project, it is at the very heart of whom this group has always been and who they are today. After years of establishing a signature sound and a respected artistry, The Canton Spirituals continue to surpass goals and expectations while maintaining their signature sound and style.

The group is led once again by Harvey Watkins Jr., who for the past 13 years has carried the torch ignited by his father who co-founded the Canton Spirituals in the 1940s. Their latest CD, Driven, is packed with contemplative spiritual tunes, vintage rollicking tracks and deeply moving emotional ballads, communicating an overwhelming joy of a group who is Driven to never stop singing the Gospel.

Their trademark sound is evident on the lead single, "That Man From Galilee," a swingy and catchy throw-back track from the Cantons' archives. "We pulled that song from a record we did in the 80's and we just thought it'd be great to do again," said Watkins. "We recorded this whole project in the studio and I think it has a relaxed and clear sound. I really like that we were able to take our time with this album and you can hear that on this song."

In Watkins' own words, they are "a little traditional, a little blues, and even a little R&B" and each element helps to complete the 13-track project. The rollicking tradition of "Got Him On My Mind," "I Never Met A Man Like Jesus," and "I Recommend Jesus," embody the tried and true Canton Spirituals sound with high-energy, toe-tapping rhythmic harmonies.

The simply powerful, "Call Jesus," a bluesy track in the truest tradition of Quartet-Gospel, brings Watkins together with long time friend and quartet fixture Lee Williams. "We've known each other for over 30 years and our fans have really wanted us to do a song together," said Watkins. "It was such a blessing for us to be able to come together this time and work together ... I am so proud to have him as part of our project."

"Leave My Burdens" offers the down-home grit of the Mississippi-bred group while on the other end of the spectrum lies the groove-heavy "Watch Him Move" and the easy-listening pop-soul of "I Need You." Though not quite a total departure, Watkins describes "Watch Him Move" as a bit of experimentation. "It's up-tempo and has a real fresh sound to it," he said. "It's a different sound than what we've done before and has beautiful lyrics."

Watkins insists on staying current and fresh by keeping young people and a younger musical perspective around him. "I think the key to our longevity is that I don't act like I know everything ... I listen to the young people and to what they are listening to and then apply it to what we do. It will keep you from sounding like an old vet," he said.