First Revolution Singers of New Orleans, Heaven Is My Goal (504 Records)


Many New Orleanians might recognize the First Revolution Singers, who formed in 1972 and re-grouped in 1980, regularly performing in the French Quarter. The First Revolution, an old-school a cappella gospel ensemble, could usually be found on the corner of St. Louis and Royal streets, where they lifted the spirits of passersby just as they did when singing at local churches as invited guests. The second installment of the group, which included original members Larry Bell and Harold Miller, who are heard on Heaven Is My Goal, also performed in clubs, made radio and television appearances and toured Europe.

The 26 cuts here are taken from two recording sessions, in 1986 and 1988, featuring various vocalists, save for Bell and Miller. They were previously released on the 504 label. The Singers’ repertoire includes many familiar gospel classics, such as “I’ll Fly Away,” “Down by the Riverside” and “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep,” as well as tunes that are heard less frequently, like the opener, “Fire.” It sets the stylistic stage for the group, which boasts the essentials of singing a cappella—fine harmonies, strong lead singers and a solid baritone, all set of by the tasteful use of falsetto.

A stunning arrangement of “Amazing Grace” and some modern touches on “He” heard on the later session highlight Heaven Is My Goal, an album that reaches its destination through harmony and passion.