Reverend A. Johnson “Do You Call That Religion” – Cash Box (1954)

Back in the early 1950’s, a traveling preacher-man named Elder Anderson Johnson aka Reverend Johnson found himself in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood playing  guitar, singing hymns, and shouting holy Hallelujahs.

Henry Stone happened to walk by, liked what heard, and offered Johnson a record deal.

They decided on material and cut the tracks. Henry left some notes for the engineer, got the project mastered, had the stamper plates made and the platters manufactured. It cost money to record, to promote, to manufacture, and to distribute, but Henry Stone believed in the artist, so he laid out his money and took the gamble. He released the sides on his DeLuxe label (which he co-owned with Syd Nathan from King Records), and paid his cronies in radio and the national music press to promote them. By 1954 he was already a regular in the newsprint of Cash Box and Billboard.

Cash Box gave the works a C+ rating. However, in 2018 these recordings are A+ and historic not just because they’ve survived, but because both Henry Stone and Elder Anderson Johnson never stopped perfecting their crafts, and both became legends.

Johnson continued traveling and performing live on street corners before founding what has become one of the most significant art landmarks in Virginia, a house that was a church that was filled with his now highly collectible, museum quality paintings.

Stone went on to blaze a trail of glory on the pop charts, and helped pioneer digital distribution, becoming one of the first catalogs to go live on iTunes in 2006.

How and why did they meet? The power of music. Long live Henry Stone and Rev Johnson!!

 

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