Mrs. Mable A. Swindell (Mamma) was my primary vocal model.
She loved hymns & memorized
(I believe) the entire Gospel Pearls
hymnal.Today I can open a hymnal to any page
and remember hearing the song beautifully
& soulfully sung.To me her
singing voice was amazing! She had a
smooth 2 octave range and perfect expressive
vibrato that she called upon for effect
whenever she wanted. I believe that the
foundation of my songwriting structure
today is the hymn. Mom's musical
taste was very broad. She loved Ella
Fitzgerald every bit as much as she loved Mahalia Jackson, and
sang a mean "Straighten up & fly right".
She also had a habit of reciting poetry
by Langston Hughes just out of nowhere. My Father's, purpose musically in my life much
like in all other aspects was to supply grounding, strength & stability, in that he was the ultimate
musical minimalist. He loved & had us listening to aaaaallll kiiiinds of music from as long as I can
remember ( & before ) but I don't ever remember
hearing him sing or even hum a complete phrase.
But what he would do was hum a single note or 2,
3 at most with his deep comforting melodious voice
and have a whole song going on in his head riding
on that note I suppose.
The youngest of 7. My brothers and I used
to "doo wop" on the front porch and on the staircase
in the hallway of our building where the acoustics
were so very cool Monday through Saturday, and "Nearer My God to Thee" all day Sundays. If
it was noisy we dug it! If it had a groove, we
dug it more! If it had a groove & could
be harmonized, we dug it more than Mamma's
lemonade with lots of ice on a hot summer's
day!! I'm sure we had to
be the most musically eclectic poor kids in
Savannah, Ga. We listened to &
tried to emulate everything from John Coltrane-
"A love Supreme", to Three Dog Night - "Mamma
told me not to come" ! We constantly channeled
the Eagles, the Temptations, the Four Tops,
Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes & Stevie Wonder
(sometimes all at the same time). Then one day
we got a Guitar and the place went wild!!!! Then
we got a piano & that was all she wrote!!!!!
Creative pandemonium ensued!!!! The music was on!!!!!!