TVD Premiere: Staples Jr. Singers, “We Got A Race To Run”

Record store crate diggers would have felt blessed if they ever chanced upon the old Brenda 45 “We Got A Race To Run” by the mysteriously named Staples Jr. Singers. The late ’60s swampy gospel could have been lost to time, but has been found by the LA collector and DJ Greg Belson and put on a new compilation The Time for Peace is Now, due in stores September 13 on Luaka Bop.

In advance of that, The Vinyl District is proud to present the track here, sharing in its snaky guitar, arresting voice, and uplifting and still-timely sentiment from a Southern gospel soul outfit that turned out to have no direct connection to The Staple Singers who had brought groove and gospel to the top of the charts in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

No, the Staples Junior Singers were just big fans—big enough fans to name themselves heirs of the sound on their too-rare recordings that call for justice more than Jesus. Today, the stirring voices of the Staples Jr. Singers can be found in the stylings of Annie Caldwell and the Caldwell Singers, still raising church rafters and saving souls in the most rural corners of Mississippi.

At the time of “We Got A Race To Run,” though, they were one of a number of groups who melded uplift and community in universal anthems that often left the doctrine behind. As author Jonathan Lethem puts it in the liner notes to The Time for Peace is Now, these were songs born of “individual inspiration fired and forged and upheld by community, tradition and context” that are “resplendent with love and yet are not love songs.”

Originally released on labels like Lovie D, Du-Vern, Sen-oj, Impel, Su-Ann, and Arc-Bel-Kno, the tunes feature such gospel acts as The Floyd Family Singers, the Triumphs, and the Gospel I.Q.s.

Issued as the second in the World Spirituality Classics series on Luaka Bop, the label started by David Byrne in 1988, The Time for Peace is Now is meant to serve as a kind of “Nuggets” collection for gospel soul. It serves as salve and a support system for a new century with a lot of the same problems.

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