gospel brass “shout band”
Charlotte, North Carolina
Led by soaring trombones with their slides pointed heavenward, Mangum & Company is a group of outstanding musicians representing many of Charlotte, North Carolina’s United House of Prayer congregations. Shout bands are all-brass, gospel-based trombone choirs that represent a sacred musical tradition unique to United House of Prayer churches, and are central to worship services, inspiring congregants with joyous sounds of praise. The inspiration for this distinctive musical style is Psalm 150: 3-6: “Praise him with the sound of the trumpet; praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel [tambourine] and dance; praise him with string instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals; praise him upon the high-sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.”
The United House of Prayer was founded by the Cape Verde-born spiritual leader Marcelino Manoel da Graça, known as “Daddy Grace,” in 1919 in Wareham, Massachusetts, emphasizing ecstatic experience with the Holy Spirit in worship. To propel his all day, all night services, Daddy Grace and the church's bandleaders created brass bands whose members applied the jazz instrumentation of the era to gospel hymns. The focus in the shout band is on the trombones: the “background” musicians establish the melody while the “run men” break free with solos that raise the roof. The shout band’s massive aural power comes through most clearly in those moments when the entire ensemble joins together to play in the “break down,” a thrilling section that draws everyone into the spirit. Today the tradition is carried on in the more than 130 United House of Prayer congregations nationwide.
This tradition has deep roots in Charlotte. After Daddy Grace preached a tent revival in Charlotte’s Second Ward in 1926, massive United House of Prayer parades with brass marching bands became a fixture in the cultural and religious life of the city, which now boasts about 17 United House of Prayer congregations. The entire state of North Carolina became a hotbed of shout band activity, with nearly 20 ensembles making a joyous noise statewide today.
Charlotte shout trombonist Cedric Mangum began his musical career early, like so many other youngsters inspired by their congregation’s bands. He started as a drummer at age seven, eventually learning to play all the shout instruments before taking on the mantle of lead trombonist. By age 13, he was the leader of the Charlotte Mother House’s legendary Bailey Clouds of Heaven, a role he continues today at age 57. His group Mangum & Company brings together outstanding musicians from congregations across the Charlotte area to play for the glory of God to audiences both sacred and secular. “Our music feeds the soul,” he says. “It’s designed for the soul, and that’s what draws the people.”