Dubbed “The Thunderbolt of the Middle West” by his mentor, the legendary Willie Mae Ford Smith, Brother Joe May was arguably the greatest male soloist in the history of gospel music; a tenor whose dramatic sense of showmanship was surpassed only by his unparalleled command of vocal dynamics and projection, he possessed a voice of unimaginable range and power, moving from a whisper to a scream without the slightest suggestion of effort. With his titanic voice and commanding stage presence, he was often called “the male Mahalia Jackson,” a comparison suggested even by Jackson herself. While en route to a performance in Thomasville, GA, May suffered a massive stroke and died on July 14, 1972 at the age of 60.
by Jason Ankeny (AllMusic.Com)
“Where Is The Road That Leads Home?”, “Don’t Let The Devil Ride”, “Search Me Lord”, and “I Heard The Angels Singing” all come from the Brother Joe May catalog, and I’ve been performing these songs by myself and with “The Sensational Country Blues Wonders!” for many years.
Sadly, most of Brother Joe May’s music is out of print and few know of him. This is probably due to the fact that he never crossed over to a pop audience the way Sam Cooke did. Brother Joe also refused to persue a career as a secular blues singer, and would only sing Gospel music. I’ve not heard a bad song from the man and his records are certainly worth hunting down.