On The Verge
Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens
New York, N.Y.
The Sharon Jones of Gospel
Naomi Davis Shelton has recently received praise everywhere— from indie blogs to The New York Times —but perhaps her biggest honor is officiating Daptone patriarch *Gabe Roth*’s wedding. It was a fitting way to celebrate her success. Though Naomi Davis Shelton first relocated from Alabama to New York in the late 1950s, the small-framed, gospel singer spent most of her early days playing odd gigs, working as a nanny and, of course, singing in church. On occasion she even left the city for family reasons, but stayed determined to make music—somehow, some way. During her journeys, she also befriended Cliff Driver, a keyboardist who eventually assumed the role of Shelton’s musical director. But it wasn’t until she met Roth at a downtown Manhattan club in the late 1990s that Shelton was able to turn her passion into a career. Roth signed the singer twice: first to his fledging Desco label and later to Daptone Records, which released What Have You Done my Brother. Now, she is poised to be the Sharon Jones of gospel—introducing a new, young, multi-cultural audience to a timeless, retro-sound. “I never gave up,” she says with a smile. “I knew that when it was my time, it would be my time.”
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Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
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