Just Make It In

HSE (Hoyt Sullivan Enterprises) was an industrious gospel label, based out Greenwood, SC. Despite hundreds of records by nearly as many artists, little is known about label owner Hoyt Sullivan himself. Few artists who recorded for the label even interacted with the elusive beauty supply salesman, bringing into question how much input, if any, he had in shaping the wealth of religious recordings released on HSE and associated labels, including (but not limited to): Su-Ann, Ken-Tone, Sav-All, et al. Liner notes written by the Pickin County native shed some light on Sullivan’s commitment to his cause.

Let me tell you about myself. I am a sinner saved by the Grace Of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Before God came into my life I was an alcoholic, a thief and a liar. I was everything that the Devil wanted me to be. I am fifty-nine years old but really just twenty-two years old. That is how long I have been fighting the Devil.

Sisters Betty, Linda, Doris, and Miriam Gerald of Mullins, SC recorded numerous singles and albums for HSE. “Just Make It In” b/w “When I Get To Heaven,” was their second. Backed by their father on piano, the familial harmony and naturally incongruent sound of 8+ hands clapping make for a sturdy offering of down-home Carolina gospel.

Special thanks to the fine folks at JustMovingOn.Info for maintaing a phenomenal site, providing the Gerald Sister photo seen above, and for supplying terrific information on obscure gospel recordings from sea to shining sea. Hallelujah!

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“Just Make It In” by the Gerald Sisters

Nasty Rock, Around the Clock

Dave Tompkins’ book How to Wreck a Nice Beach: From World War II to Hip-Hop did not just pop up over night. Dave has been writing vocoder-sensitive articles for a myriad of magazines for a myriad of years. One of the more Carolinacentric ones appeared in Stop Smiling Magazine some several years ago. “The Night-Time Master Blaster” is the tale of Fuquay-Varina vocoderist James L. Garrett, whose electronically elegant single, “Nasty Rock” was broken wide open over the airwaves of Charlotte’s WPEG (soon, the world!) thanks to the Night-Time Master Blaster himself, Les Norman. “Les had a good heart,” Garrett said. “He reached out when he didn’t even know us. That’s how we got to New York. That’s how we opened for the Isley Brothers and the Manhattans.”

Dave will read from his book today at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, 3pm. The after party at 5 Star on Morgan St is alleged to feature a vocoder and Roland 808, courtesy of Davy DMX. Although a James L. Garrett appearance is unconfirmed, we are posting his 1983 master(blaster)piece here at Carolina Soul to pay homage to yet another eccentric moment in Carolina music history.

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“Nasty Rock” by Garrett’s Crew

How to Wreck a Nice Beach

Music historian and Charlotte native Dave Tompkins is a national treasure. His influential writing for magazines as far flung as Grand Royal and The Wire made hip-hop writing an art form unto itself. An admirer of the odd, Tompkins latched onto the synthetic magic of the voice-manipulating vocoder early in his life, and set to the task of penning a book on the subject not long thereafter. A resident of Brooklyn, Tompkins will be returning to the Old North State to read from his new book, How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop.

Although the flyer does not reflect this, Dave will also be reading at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on Saturday, June 19th at 3pm.

Visit HowToWreckANiceBeach.Com for more entertaining details.

Carolina Soul & Consumer Culture on The State of Things

Josh Davis and I enjoyed talking to Frank Stasio on The State of Things this afternoon on North Carolina Public Radio. You can read a detailed description of the show and listen to archived audio here.

Between all the great questions that Frank asked us about Curt Moore of Greensboro, David Lee of the Shelby area, and other important figures on the Carolina Soul scene, the Paradise of Bachelors record label slipped through the cracks. Brendan Greaves and I are heading up this enterprise, and our first release later this summer will be a David Lee retrospective compilation. Read more at the Paradise of Bachelors blog, particularly these posts:




And as a bonus, check out these pictures snapped this weekend in Cleveland County, North Carolina:

David Lee at home in Mooresboro.

The former Washington Sound on Buffalo Street in Shelby. David Lee ran his record shop in this building from the early 1970s through 1995.

Across the street from the shop, where Buffalo meets Weathers, the one-time Washington Theatre and Washington Center, where Ann Sexton often performed, and where David Lee met her for the first time.


The Carolina Soul website serves as a living encyclopedia of soul music made in North and South Carolina. We strive to share Carolinian songs and stories of the last half century, and we invite the input of musicians and fans. We hope you will contact us if you have information on bands or recordings from the region.