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 in Henry’s studio. Henry then left notes for the mastering engineer, got the project finalized, had the stamper plates made, and the platters manufactured. It cost him money to record, to manufacture, to distribute, and to promote, but Henry Stone believed in Rev Johnson, so he laid out his money and took the gamble. He released the sides first on his Glory label and then his DeLuxe label (which he co-owned with Syd Nathan from King Records), and paid his cronies in radio to play it on the airwaves, and told all of his pals in the national music press to review the works. By 1954 Stone was already a regular in the newsprint of Cash Box and Billboard.

It is also important to note that Johnson was credited as songwriter.

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 across the USA before founding what has become one of the most significant art landmarks in Virginia, his house that was also his church that he filled with his now highly collectible, museum quality paintings.

Stone went on to blaze a trail of glory on the Pop and R&B 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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