“House of David” Blues on To the Best of Our Knowledge

Sheet music for "The House of David Blues"The Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture is proud to announce our partnership with Wisconsin Public Radio’s “To the Best of Our Knowledge.” This nationally heard Peabody award winning show explores in-depth a range of ideas through interviews, debates, documentaries and, of course, sound. Beginning this Sunday, Mayrent Institute Founding Director Henry Sapoznik will host an ongoing segment focusing on great historic 78 rpm sound recordings and the unusual and interesting stories behind them.

This week’s show, “A More Perfect Union,” features “House of David Blues” recordings by jazz great Fletcher Henderson and old time fiddler Clayton McMichen about the once popular Michigan-based millennial group which inspired it. Check your local public radio affiliate for local airtimes or, for streaming or archival listening go to: http://www.ttbook.org/

(and, if you’ve enjoyed it,  don’t forget to vote for the segment on their website.)

The House of David, founded in 1903 by Benjamin and Mary Purnell in Benton Harbor, Michigan, was one of the numerous religious sects that grew out of the Third Great Awakening sweeping through the U.S. in the late 19th century. Believing themselves to be imbued with the spirit of the Seventh and last Messenger as foretold in the Book of Revelations, the Purnells set about recruiting members to their ascetic movement using, ironically, the most modern of musical enticements: jazz.

Listen as Henry Sapoznik tells the story of “House of David Blues,” the song inspired by the millennial cult that blended popular and religious culture as they prepared themselves for the end of the world.

Audio stream courtesy of our friends at Wisconsin Public Radio’s To the Best of Our Knowledge. Be sure to visit their website at http://www.ttbook.org/.