“To Glorify God by unifying and
inspiring all people through African-American Music”
is a deeper purpose and a higher calling to all we do. The Sounds of Blackness
has always been, and will always be, embedded to taking that message of healing,
reconciliation, inspiration, and restoration through the power of music to the
global community." - Gary Hines
Philosophy: "Music is much like a smile, a shout, a tear, or a warm embrace.
At its heart, it is a deep expression of the human spirit, unrestrained by the
limitations of genre. From the beginning of time, as we know it, people of all
ages and origins interweave personal life stories with the music of their culture. Music has always been much more than mere entertainment.
Music is the lifeblood of the soul, the heartbeat of humanity, and the very pillar
of a rich & colorful life." (www.theblackness.com)
Verse of Sounds of Blackness: Proverbs 3:6 “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and
He will direct thy path”
ON CD Acknowledgments:
"We give eternal thanks to God, The Creator."
ABOUT SOUNDS OF BLACKNESS, GARY HINES & LASALLE GABRIEL
OF GARY HINES AND SOUNDS OF BLACKNESS CHOIR:
Of Blackness Choir has a very long history, which
began in 1969, when Russel Knight formed a choral group at St. Paul, Minnesota's
Macalester College, called The Macalester College Black Voices, with the goal
of continuing the legacy of Duke Ellington. When Gary Hines, a junior at this
college, was hired to be the group's musical director, he brought along some new
ideas and goals for this group. Under his leadership, this college-formed choral
group became an available musical force for the enjoyment of the whole community,
performing an expanded repertoire which concentrated on a wider scope of African
American music, including all the aspects of black music.
changed their name to Sounds of Blackness Choir, with the following goals firmly
* To embrace all manners of African-American
* To create rich, diverse music to celebrate
God and the human spirit and
* To make social
statements they felt strongly about.
next 15 years or so, Sounds of Blackness were active giving concerts in and around
Minneapolis / Twin Cities area, and opening for musical acts ranging from the
Jackson 5 to Hampton Hawes. They kept their growing fan base happy by also releasing
their own albums: IMAGES OF BLACKNESS(1974), IMAGES OF BLACKNESS 11 (1976) and
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1978), which was redone in 1992, using much better
Though approached by many major
record companies, who wanted them to "streamline their musical sound"
or even change their name, the Sounds of Blackness stayed independent and self-reliant
because they wanted to stay the course set by their established goals, keeping
their choir's uniqueness and purpose intact.
Hines explains in a gospelflava.com article, "We had been approached by many
music labels following the first three independent projects. However, they all
approached us with an image that they wanted us to portray. In all cases, the
changes that they were asking for were simply unacceptable. We refused to limit
ourselves in that manner."
Blackness continued in their established course of performing in these regional
concerts, while earning a living by working in a variety of careers and professions.
Gary Hines, besides being the groups musical director, was also talented in not
only songwriting but could write plays; Gary began writing musical stage plays
for the group which became the inspirational "source and substance"
for albums to come in the 1990's.
the Lord had a bigger plan in store for Sounds of Blackness. Circumstances and
timing came together with professional musical performances to result in a new
broader road to travel for Gary Hines and Sounds of Blackness, making their musical
efforts a full time occupation.
In 1989, the
Sounds of Blackness were being considered yet again as a possible group to sign
up by a newly formed label, Perspective / A & M, owned by well known song
writers and music producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, old acquaintances of Gary
Hines and the Sounds of Blackness, who Gary had kept in touch with throughout
Jam and Lewis brought Janet Jackson
to a Sounds of Blackness concert, entitled "Music for Martin", a tribute
to Martin Luther King, to get her opinion of this choral group. It just so happened
that at this concert, a sister of S.O.B. member, Shirley Graham, by the name of
Ann Nesby was encouraged to sing with the choir by her sister and Gary Hines.
Nesby's performance was a big blessing to both the choir and the audience, including
Janet Jackson. Ann Nesby was asked to join the choir by a very impressed Gary
Hines, and Janet's enthusiastic endorsement of Sounds
of Blackness, quickly resulted in this great opportunity for the Sounds of Blackness
to reach a national audience, with a contact offer by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Jam and Lewis produced three highly regarded
Sounds of Blackness albums, which brought recognition and acclaim from a variety
of sources; Critics, fans and the Gospel community.
- THE EVOLUTION OF GOSPEL - This collection of songs not only made Sounds of Blackness
well-known and loved, but also made Sounds of Blackness "the first Gospel
Choir to make it ok to blend the genres with traditional Gospel music, creating
urban Gospel music which speaks to both Christian and secular audiences."
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (A Musical Fantasy -1992) and AFRICA TO AMERICA: THE JOURNEY OF THE DRUM were all financial successes, and loved
by the fans and faith and secular community as well.
this point on, Sounds of Blackness continued to roll along throughout the 1990's,
continuing to offer their music world-wide as well as nationally. In 1999, they
were invited to perform in the Christmas program at the White House!!
musical sound continues to evolve, becoming "an inspired blend of urban Gospel
and elements of R & B, jazz, hip hop, soul, spirituals and traditional Gospel."
Over the years, Sounds of Blackness earned
3 Grammys, 3 Stellar awards, One Emmy Nomination, International Time for Peace
Award, International Dance Music Award and were honored by the NAACP. They have
sold more than two million albums, earning them two gold records and one platinum
record and have performed for the international community as well.
the 2005 Stellar Awards, held on February 9, 2006, The Sounds of Blackness won
their 4th Stellar Award for Contemporary Choir of the Year, because of their work
on UNITY. Anne Nesby was also nominated in the Contemporary Female Vocalist of
the Year category.
Gary Hines shares, "Musically
we still celebrate all the traditions of our culture's heritage that have preceded
us, and we also continue to grow and evolve creatively just as music itself is
continually growing and evolving. There a deeper purpose and a higher calling
to all we do. The Sounds of Blackness has always been, and will always be, embedded
to taking that message of healing, reconciliation, inspiration, and restoration
through the power of music to global community. As long as this earth has inhabitants,
it will not only have, but require music to survive. Almost as literally as it
requires food and water. That's both the greatest challenge and the greatest joy
I can imagine. And it's a calling that has no end and no beginning."
GARY HINES - His background and Early Years....
1971, Gary Hines has been at the helm of Sound of Blackness as the talented musical
vocal director / arranger of musical material, writing musical productions for
the choir and has composed / co-produced music as he has done for this album UNITY.
Besides being a wealth of musical talent,
it is quite clear from the history reported above, that Gary Hines also has a
strong faith in the Lord, and other character qualities and gifts which have kept
him motivated, focused, disciplined and positive, with a drive to stay the course.
It is always inspiring to find out who or what in an artist / music director's
life helped him or her develop all the skills and faith needed to succeed in his
/ her calling in the Lord's will for his / her musical endeavors and ministry.
So, of course, ChristianMusic.com had to ask
Gary Hines some questions.
Gary Hines shares
with ChristianMusic.com about his early life.
was born & raised in Yonkers, New York in a Christian home. Our church was Messiah
Baptist (Yonkers New York) where I accepted the Lord. My musical training was
drum & bugle corps (Samuel H Dow Drum Corps American Legion #1017, Yonkers, NY)
- Who in your life as been a source of guidance, reinforced your character, taught
you your important values?
my brothers & sisters, Mahmoud El-Kati."
can see that seeds of faith, character development and the love & discipline
of music were planted early in Gary Hines, thanks to his mother and father, family,
Mahmoud El-Kati, church family and New York City,
a place swirling with many kinds of music and opportunities to learn.
did the Lord prepare you for your music ministry?
"The Lord prepared me for my music ministry through my mother, Doris Hines
a renowned jazz singer, my drum & bugle corps training and the streets of New
York where I heard Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Rock & Roll, R&B, Spirituals, Latin, Orchestral,
World Beat & Hip-Hop”
(Side Bar Note: Gary
Hines graduated from high school and attended Macalester College where I bet he
majored in music, which further enhanced his musical skills. College also opened
the door to the new world of being a choral director. Gary must of bloomed in
this area, because not many juniors in college are hired to lead a college choir,
The Macalester College Black Voices!)
Influences: Artists ( secular and Christian) which influenced you growing up or
now which have influenced your singing style, performance skills and / or composing.
“Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Stevie
Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Oscar Peterson, Edwin Hawkins, Staple Singers, James
Brown, Ray Charles, Malcolm X”
testimony you would like to share to encourage others, what the Lord has done
Gary Hines shares his faith and
his relationship with the Lord, which sustains him, and directs his path. “God
has been, is and continues to be my All”
shares next about the relationship between life and the art of creating and performing
"Music has always been much more
than mere entertainment. At its heart, it is a deep expression of the human spirit,
unrestrained by the limitations of genre. Music is the lifeblood of the soul,
the heartbeat of humanity, and the very pillar of a rich & colorful life."
concludes, “Day to day life’s ups and downs are all in the mix of molding, shaping
and making music”
LaSalle Gabriel, Producer / SLR Records
Grammy Award-winning guitarist LaSalle Gabriel, who was originally with Sounds
of Blackness in the early '90's, has come back to produce this wonderful album,
UNITY, recording it at his SRL Recording Studios. In 2005 an investment group
led by LaSalle Gabriel purchased the legendary Flyte Tyme Studios formerly owned
by Jam & Lewis for $7 million.
a gifted guitar player / keyboardist, LaSalle Gabriel also is a talented composer
/ songwriter and has a mind for producing music and for running a business. He
was the guitarist heard on "The Posse" soundtrack, and was the arranger
/ guitarist for the "Mo' Money" soundtrack. LaSalle has also produced
and scored musical scores for film projects, such as the films "Violation,"
"The Great Commission."
Gabriel has written, recorded and toured with many gifted artists, including Prince,
Jam & Lewis, Vesta Williams Jamie Fox, Barry White, DJ Quick, Johnny Gill,
TLC, After 7, Karyn White, The J Project, James Moore and The Mississippi Mass
UNITY CD Song Video * KINGS & QUEENS Sample Song Video