In 1951, Hank Williams was known as the king of Country music as a popular star of the Grand Ole Opry who was in a short-lived stretch of hit songs. That year he also had his own 15-minute radio show that was sponsored by Mother’s Best Flour, broadcast from 7:15 -7:30 a.m. on the Nashville radio station WSM. Because early-morning programs typically concluded with a hymn, it gave the Country music star the chance to share his love for religious songs. New collection from BMG, I’m Gonna Sing: The Mother’s Best Gospel Radio Recordings, contains rare performances of 40 Gospel songs culled from these radio shows, many of which he never officially recorded.
On March 11, 2022, BMG is releasing this specially assembled collection as a two-CD digipak and a three-LP triple-gatefold album pressed on 140g vinyl, marking the first time these recordings have been issued on vinyl. Produced by Cheryl Pawelski, the compilation features new liner notes penned by Hank Williams biographer Colin Escott while the recordings were restored and mastered by Michael Graves. This trio all won Grammys for their earlier work on the Hank Williams archival project, The Garden Spot Programs, 1950.
I’m Gonna Sing reveals the depth of Williams’ Gospel music knowledge. The 40 songs, as the liner notes detail, span several centuries. Tracks like “At the Cross” and “I Am Bound for the Promised Land” trace back to the 1700s, while “From Jerusalem to Jericho,” “Lonely Tombs” (later covered by Dylan) and “Softly and Tenderly” (covered by Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Alan Jackson) come from the 19th century. Many selections, however, are more contemporary numbers, from the well-known (“When the Saints Go Marching In” and “I’ll Fly Away”) to the rather obscure (“Something Got Hold of Me”).
Several songs, such as “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and “When God Dips His Love in My Heart,” are hymns that originated in the Black church. Others, like “The Prodigal Son,” “I Dreamed About Mom Last Night,” and “Wait for the Light to Shine,” were penned by his producer and music publisher, Fred Rose, himself a hall of fame songwriter. Hank wrote gospel songs too; the compilation’s title track is one as are “Jesus Died for Me,” “How Can You Refuse Him Now,” and the classic “I Saw the Light” as well as two tunes — “Jesus Remembered Me” and “Dear Brother” — he performed with his then-wife Audrey.