Listen: “Rich Man, Poor Man.”
Andrew Wartts, based in Bloomington, Illinois, recorded his landmark gospel album There Is A God Somewhere album in the early 1980s and released it on the small Champ imprint based in Nashville, Tennessee. It took funk archivists years to discover this gem, but it’s a timely resurface. Wartts sound – a mixture of soulful, funky, melancholic yet celebratory exhortations to the Lord – belies the music’s age. In a time when most contemporary-leaning Gospel acts were moving towards the “boogie” sounds of then-pop stars such as Prince and Rick James, Wartts stood firm in his commitment to James Brown style funk. As an example, check out “Peter And John,” a quirky riff on “Give It Up, Turn It Loose.” Turning around neatly in 4/4, the rhythm section chooses to skirt, rather than emphasize, “the one.” The result is a slightly off putting, but wholly original entry into the Gospel-Funk archives.