Definitions

move up

Move On Up A Little Higher (song)

"Move On Up A Little Higher" is a gospel song written by W. Herbert Brewster, first recorded on September 12, 1947, by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and sold an astonishing eight million copies. The song was honored with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in (1998). In 2005, the Library of Congress honored the song by adding it to the National Recording Registry. It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock.

Background

Composer Rev. William Herbert Brewster (1897-1987) composed "Moved On Up A Little Higher," through the imagery of a "Christian climbing the ladder to heaven," the song encourages black upward mobility, hence reflecting the postwar Afro-modernist sentiments:"

"The fight for rights here in Memphis was pretty rough on the Black church . . . and I wrote that song "Move on Up a Little Higher." . . . We'll have to move in the field of education. Move into the professions and move into politics. Move in anything that any other race has to have to survive. That was a protest idea and inspiration. I was trying to inspire Black people to move up higher. Don't be satisfied with the mediocre . . . Before the freedom fights started, before the Martin Luther King days, I had to lead a lot of protest meetings. In order to get my message over, there were things that were almost dangerous to say, but you could sing it.

"Move on Up" was originally written for one of Brewster's religious pageants or passion plays. Brewster's maintained that the entire piece--lyrics, melody, and harmony--came to him in one flow, and shortly thereafter he taught the song to his principle vocal soloist, Queen C. Anderson. But it was the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson, who, according to Brewster, "knew what to do with it. She could throw the verse out there. Producer Art Freeman insisted Jackson record "Move on Up a Little Higher"; released in early 1948, the single became the best-selling gospel record of all time, selling in such great quantities that stores could not even meet the demand. Brewster was pastor of East Trigg Avenue Baptist Church, one of the churches where young Elvis Presley studied the ecstatic moves of his gospel heroes.

Recoding Sessions

First Session

"Move On Up A Little Higher," September 12, 1947, New York, Apollo: Mahalia Jackson (vocal), Mildred Falls (piano), and Herbert James Francis (organ).

Re-record Session

"I Will Move On Up A Little Higher," New York, November 23, 1954, Columbia, (Rev. William Herbert Brewster/Arranger Mahalia. Jackson): The Falls-Jones Ensemble, with Mildred Falls (piano), Ralph Jones (organ), Jack Lasberg (guitar), Frank Carroll (bass), Bunny Shawker (drums), and Mahalia Jackson (vocal). From The World's Greatest Gospel Singer album, Columbia CL 644; Originally Released March 14, 1955.

Notable cover versions

Footnotes

External links

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