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In June 1926, a blind, broke, black woman took a train to Chicago to record for OKeh Race Records what is now recognized as the first gospel music to feature piano. Arizona Dranes, the first musical star of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), a Pentecostal denomination, is credited with inventing “Christian barrelhouse,” a blend of ragtime and boogie-woogie that fused the Negro spirituals of the antebellum South with the urban blues emerging in 1930s and 1940s Chicago. She revolutionized gospel music with her raucous playing and singing.

In this stunning package, San Francisco-based label Tompkins Square offers the complete remastered works of Arizona Dranes with 16 inspirational piano-driven gospel tunes and a 48-page clothbound book that tells her pioneering life story. The book is lavishly illustrated with period photographs and images of the segregationist era in which her joyful music was born. Without evangelist Arizona Dranes there would have been no Little Richard. (Tompkins Square)

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