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By Mahnuel Muñoz

Gospel instilled in Elvis a love for music. As a child of just two years old, he approached the church choir, fascinated by his singing, and tried to be part of them by following the melodies and imitating his gestures. He grew up loving and practicing religious music and inevitably the fervor permeated all of his production, even the songs that scandalized the ecclesiastical community.

Presley burst into the world of popular music, shattering conventions and hurting prudish sensibilities with lyrics and choreography loaded with wild sexuality.

The singer’s decision, at the peak of his popularity, to release an album with religious songs must have disconcerted all sides of public opinion, but in reality it responded to an intimate desire of the artist and a step fully consistent with the principles of being. human behind the imposing image.

The first commercial release of religious music signed by Elvis was “Peace In The Valley”, an extended play of four songs recorded between January 12 and 19, 1957 at the Radio Recorders studios in Hollywood, during some very eclectic sessions that , among other fruits, the soundtrack of the film “Loving You” and the classic “All Shook Up”.

The album was released in stores in April 1957, almost simultaneously with another secular extended play, “Just For You”, and obtained a prominent third place on the extended play sales charts. In November of that same year, the content of the extended play was reissued as part of the Christmas LP “Elvis’ Christmas Album”, which, as you know, was the best-selling album in its category and led to widespread dissemination of Elvis’s first religious work. Elvis.

The album allows us to enjoy a very different Presley from his conventional albums and fiery television appearances. Solemn, contained, technical and at the same time deeply organic, he makes beautiful and emotional versions of songs that he has always known; “I Believe” (popularized by Frankie Laine in 1953), “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” (a standard written by Thomas A. Dorsey, considered the father of contemporary gospel, on a 19th century melody), “It Is No Secret” (a success in 1951 for its author, Stuart Hamblen) and the essential “Peace In The Valley”, again the work of Thomas A. Dorsey, who composed it in 1939 for Mahalia Jackson.

The vocal accompaniment of The Jordanaires represents a mantle of overwhelming beauty for the ensemble of the king’s voice and the musical support. This brief gem of a record showed with an eloquence and clarity that reaches to this day the most sublime and essential Elvis.

The album revealed Elvis’ versatility, artistic level and honesty among the most reluctant and conservative public, who, little by little, accepted the singer as a legitimate artist.

The world would still have to wait three years to enjoy an Elvis album dedicated entirely to religious music, but it would be worth it, since when the moment arrived it was under the beautiful cover of “His Hand In Mine”, a work by which we will talk about in another post.

Article written and provided by Mahnuel Muñoz https://www.facebook.com/mahnuelmunozoficial


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