August 02, 2017 at 09:59AM

They got their start under street lamps, singing doo-wop and soul for family, friends, and neighbors in the Village, a historically black neighborhood of West Newton. That was decades ago. Brothers Walter and Stephen Cooper and a cousin, Richard Evans, have never stopped singing. Even as construction of the Mass. Pike largely decimated their community. Even as their lives were consumed by careers, marriages, children, and personal trials. Even as their musical interests evolved — as youthful dreams of becoming the next Four Tops faded and they gravitated to spirituals and gospel. “We’ve been singing forever, it seems like,” Walter Cooper says. Since 1988, they’ve been performing as the Gospel Love Tones, their timeless music rooted in history but fiercely relevant to the present. “Gospel is the aches and pains and the sorrows and the moanings of a depressed, enslaved people,” Evans says. Stephen Cooper says: “Gospel is, to me, the spreading of the good news.” Today, with a fourth member, Kenny Haywood, the Gospel Love Tones bring warm, four-part harmonies and an uplifting message to schools, assisted-care facilities, holiday celebrations, and to Myrtle Baptist Church, a vibrant centerpiece of the old neighborhood. In this political climate, Evans says, gospel has once again become a source of comfort and hope — especially for African-Americans. “So much is going on today,” Stephen Cooper says, “that we can try to alleviate or bring some sense of peace and tranquillity to this world.” — By Scott Helman and photography Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

As other members of the Gospel Love Tones arrive for a gig at a nursing home in Newton, Stephen Cooper tests the microphone. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

from Big Picture

from Blogger August 02, 2017 at 09:59AM

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