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The Beautiful Zion Missionary Baptist Church Choir
The first gospel choir to hit the R&B charts was the Chicago-based Beautiful Zion Missionary Choir that placed the rocking hit "I'll Make It Alright" at No. 33 on the R&B singles chart in 1973. The song was led by Emma Richards, daughter of Beautiful Zion's pastor. The choir had heard the song on the radio and decided to record it when they made their debut LP on Myrrh Records. Inexperienced with copyrights, the choir didn't realize the song they based it on was Bobby Womack's "Looking for a Love." The case was settled and it was one of gospel music's early R&B success stories. Former Myrrh Records executive Billy Ray Hearn, who signed the choir, always felt they were unique.
"That harmony the black choirs used," Mr. Hearn stated. "Oh, it had so much energy. It's so contagious when you're listening to it. It just draws you into it. And when they started singing I got so excited because they had such a unique sound from what had been heard. Now, if you had been attending a lot of black churches you would have heard this before, but it was never out to the white community."
The choir's last R&B hit was the tune "Ride to the Mountain Top" from their last LP In the Spirit.
Carpenter, B. (2005). Beautiful Zion Missionary Baptist Church Choir. In Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia (p. 41). San Francisco, CA: Backbeat Books.