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Ugandan a cappella group gives Pentatonix a run for their money

J-P Mauro - published on 11/08/22

"Have a Little Talk with Jesus" is an African-American Christian hymn that was composed during the Great Depression.

Pentatonix may be the world’s premier a cappella group, but this six-piece male choir from Uganda gives them a run for their money. Jehova Shalom A Cappella is an immensely talented vocal group that developed in 2006, when its members were still in high school, as a church choir of the Seventh-day Adventist faith. 

Aleteia generally only covers music produced by Catholics or mainstream Protestants – and the Seventh-day Adventists would not fit into the latter – but the group’s treatment of the 20th-century African American tune “Have a Little Talk With Jesus” was too good to ignore. From the very start of the song, we were hooked by Jehova Shalom’s resplendent arrangement. 

A cappella

The singers are pitch-perfect to a point that we initially thought they were auto-tuned. Sporting extremely tight harmonies, the singers are so in touch with each other that the lyrics are as clear as if just one of them was singing. The group strikes a sweet balance between church choir and barbershop sextet, with a natural charm beaming from their animated expressions.

Their range is also remarkable, as two members hit unbelievably low notes at times. It is amusing to watch the interactions between the pair, who seem to be competing with each other to some extent. On the first time around, the low notes go to the singer in the lower middle, but in the second verse this line is taken over by the singer on the lower right. When the first hears the low note of the second he gives a look, but once the second bass hits the lowest note of the tune, the first responds like it just hit him in the back of the head. 

According to Diana Leah Matthews, who researched the history of the hymn on her self-titled blog, “Have a Little Talk With Jesus” was penned by Rev. Cleavant Derricks, a minister at a small African American church. Accounts vary on what inspired the song, but Derricks sold the rights to a hymnal distributor for 50 songbooks, which he used to supply his parish. Within a few years it became a hit in Protestant churches across the United States. 

While the modern reader may think that Derricks let such a fun and famous tune go too cheaply, it is said that he considered the joy that his song brought to so many Christians to have been payment enough. Over the course of his life, Derricks wrote more than 450 Christian songs, with “We’ll Soon Be Done with Troubles and Trials” and “When God Dipped His Love in My Heart” standing among his most popular. 

AfricaChristian MusicHymn
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