The Campbell Brothers’ sacred steel gospel version of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme was commissioned by Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Duke Performances at Duke University. The piece premiered at Lincoln Center in New York City on August 8, 2014.
Fifty years ago John Coltrane composed and recorded his most spiritual composition. Coltrane, whose father was a minister, included a prayer in the liner notes, and phrased his peroration to those words.
The Campbell Brothers, whose father is a bishop, grew up in churches where steel guitars replaced organs, a style known as Sacred Steel. Every Sunday they played for church services, where they were admonished to “play the word.”
This Sacred Steel gospel tradition has proved fertile ground for A Love Supreme. The Campbell Brothers approach this major work with a deep connection to the spiritual journey the composer undertook. At its Lincoln Center premier, the piece was greeted by shouts of joy and a wild standing ovation.
Pedal steel guitarist Chuck Campbell (2004 National Heritage Fellowship recipient) and his lap steel-playing brother Darick are two of the finest in this tradition. Rounding out the band, which has been playing together for nearly two decades, is a high-energy rhythm section featuring brother Phil Campbell on electric guitar, his son Carlton on drums, and bassist Daric Bennett. Classic, gutsy gospel vocals by Denise Brown, Tiffany Godette and/or Joyce “Cinnamon” Brown bring the ensemble to a level of energy and expression that defies description.