Paul Thorn talks about his gospel music roots with NPR’s Scott Simon

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Roots-rocker and singer-songwriter Paul Thorn has a new gospel influenced album, Don’t Let The Devil Ride,

The album was recorded in three locations – Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis, FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, and Preservation Hall in New Orleans – and features contributions from the Blind Boys of Alabama, The McCrary Sisters (who will be performing a concert for the Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul project), and the Preservation Hall Jazz Horns.

Many songs on the record are lesser-known gospel tunes released by small Mississippi and Alabama labels in the late 1950s-70s. There is also a cover of “Love Train,” the popular song by The O’Jays from 1972 that came out of The Sounds of Philadelphia, and written by legendary songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

On the album, Thorn combines influences stemming from his life experiences and his earliest musical influence: gospel. Thorn spent his youth singing in his father’s Pentecostal church, and some of his most memorable musical experiences were at an African American branch of his father’s church, the Okolona Sunrise Church of Prophecy. “There might be ten people playing the tambourine, but the rhythm was locked in, and they’d let me play bass. I loved the Appalachian gospel of my parents’ church, but it was a treat to play with those musicians,” says Thorn in his biography.

Listen to his interview with Scott Simon from NPR’s Weekend Edition below.

Photo credit | Lee Harrelson