Arizona Dranes Project

GRAMMY NOMINATED: Best Historical Album 2012

Read a 2,200-word excerpt of the book here.

Music researcher and former newspaper reporter Michael Corcoran has done the world a major service by uncovering important aspects of the life of this otherwise biographically-elusive figure.- Tim Dodge, Auburn University

Listen to NPR’s report on Dranes, “the forgotten mother of gospel music.”

Reissue of the Year: He is My Story: The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes. Rarely do reissues come with an album booklet as compelling as the music, but that’s what this classy set accomplishes. Writer Michael Corcoran tells the fascinating story of blind spiritual singer Arizona Dranes, and her mysterious life of singing for the Lord and living on a prayer. In 1926 and 1928 Dranes recorded 16 songs that somehow brought the Almighty down to earth and sang of a life we cannot see. There hasn’t been anything like it since, and Corcoran’s words capture what the music does—a place where the soul runs free and life really is sanctified. Believe.
- Bill Bentley, the Morton Report
“An impressive collection of otherworldly recordings and dogged primary research, He Is My Story: The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes is an essential piece of Texas, American, and black music history.”
- Thomas Fawcett, Austin Chronicle
Hear the report on NPR’s “All Things Considered”
“Essential… A magnificent and important set”
- Roots and Rhythm
Here’s the full review
“He Is My Story is essential reading for gospel fans, pre-war jazz and blues enthusiasts, church historians, and may well be the best historic gospel music compilation this year.”
 Five of Five Stars
- Bob Marovich, The Black Gospel Blog
Read the full review
Kevin Curtin of the Austin Chronicle reports on the project.
A history of the Institute of Deaf, Dumb and Blind Colored Youths in Austin, where Dranes learned to play piano.
“He Is My Story: The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes” contains 44-pages of liner notes and an expertly remastered CD containing all 16 tracks Dranes recorded in Chicago from 1926- 1928.
Five-star review in All Music
Born blind in Sherman, Texas, Arizona Dranes learned to play piano at the Institute For Deaf, Dumb & Blind Colored Youths in Austin, which she attended from 1896- 1912. She was 37 year old, not 20 or 21 as previously reported, when she made six recordings on one day in Chicago that mixed the secular and the spiritual in ways that had never been done before. A member of the Pentecostal Church of God In Christ, Dranes was the first to bring “hot” piano- ragtime, barrelhouse, boogie boogie- to songs of praise. Among those who’ve acknowledged Dranes as an influence was Thomas A. Dorsey, the Father of Gospel Music.
Listen to long interview with Michael Corcoran on WLUW- Chicago’s “Gospel Memories”
World Magazine credits Arizona Dranes as the architect of rock n’ roll.


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