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New BMG Compilation on Hank Williams Spotlights The Country Legend's Gospel Performances
Hank Williams in 1951 Hank_Williams_publicity.jpg: MGM Recordsderivative work: GDuwenTell me!, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

New BMG Compilation on Hank Williams Spotlights The Country Legend’s Gospel Performances

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NASHVILLE (CelebrityAccess) – Hank Williams was the king of country back in 1951 and a staple of the Grand Ole Opry. That year, he had his own radio show that was sponsored by Mother’s Best Flour and broadcast from 7:15 – 7:30am on Nashville radio station WSM. It also showcased another side of the country legend.

Early-morning shows typically ended with a hymn, so it gave Williams the chance to share his love for religious songs. I’m Gonna Sing: The Mother’s Best Gospel Radio Recordings contains rare performances of 40 gospel songs taken from those radio shows; many of which were never officially recorded.

On March 11, 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. The compilation features new liner notes by Hank Williams biographer Colin Escott while the recordings were restored and mastered by Michael Graves and produced by Cheryl Pawelski. Escott, Pawelski and Graves each won a Grammy for their work on Williams’ archival project, The Garden Spots Program.

The Mother’s Best radio show recordings have their own interesting backstory. They come from the acetate discs that Williams pre-recorded to be episodes when he was on tour and couldn’t be in the studio. In the 1970s, the radio station discarded the acetates, but they were rescued from the dustbin. Williams’ daughter, Jett Williams, finally gained the rights to the discs and the complete Mother’s Best recordings were released in 2011 as a 15-CD box set that received a Best Historical Album Grammy nomination.

Williams has a disconsolate but storied history within the Nashville community. He had six Top Five songs, including “Cold, Cold Heart” and “Hey Good Lookin”, along with two number one hits, “Jambalaya” and “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive”. He was part of the star-studded Hadacol tour along with Bob Hope, Minnie Pearl, Milton Berle, and Jack Benny as well as an appearance on The Perry Como Show. Williams was also hospitalized due to his alcoholism, injured in a hunting accident, and had spinal fusion surgery. Slipping further into his alcoholism and drug abuse, Williams got fired from the Grand Ole Opry, and died early on January 1, 1953 from a heart attack.

The compilation, I’m Gonna Sing, however, offers a musical snapshot of Williams at the top of his game, with the gospel songs he sings suggesting the troubled road he had traveled thus far and foreshadowing the troubles up ahead.

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