Champion, Pastor Wiley – I Just Want To Be A Good Man – New LP
My name is Wiley Champion.
I was born and raised in Louisiana,
now I live in Palo Alto, California.
I drive up and down in the West, preaching and playing my electric guitar.
A lot of things have happened in my life, perhaps enough for four men,
but I don’t really want to talk about them,
not because I’m secretive, but because they make me sad.
I never thought about making a record before, but the Lord works in mysterious ways.
They call me Pastor Champion,
I just want to be a good man
A preacher, a pastor, an outsider gospel singer who was raised in the Jim Crow South. He fled to California and joined a gang before becoming born again, spending the rest of his days traveling with his electric guitar to congregations and people’s homes from San Jose to Shreveport.
There isn’t much known about Champion, except that the beloved soul singer Bettye Swann happened to be his sister and confidant— a secret that the pastor only shared later on.
We started working with Pastor Champion a few years ago while we were researching another release, The Time for Peace Is Now: Gospel Music About Us. We found him on the YouTube channel of the 37th Street Baptist Church in Oakland, California, put together by their pastor Bishop Dr. W.C. McClinton. We liked Champion so much that in 2018 we decided to make an album together, and to record it analog like the gospel recordings we love, on a two-track Nagra reel-to-reel. Over the course of just two evenings (when the workday was done), Champion taught his band—musicians who had never played together before—a handful of songs that he regularly... more
Luaka Bop would like to thank Pastor Champion’s wife Mother Sheren Champion and their children Bernard, Heliena and Sam for their kindness and generosity in the creation of this album. We would also like to give a very special thank you to Bishop W.C. McClinton and his congregants of the 37th Street Baptist Church, who welcomed us so warmly into their home during these beautiful days in Oakland. (It’s also thanks to the Bishop and his tireless work of bringing people together in this unique place for the last forty years that we were able to learn of Pastor Champion’s music to begin with.) Finally, we would also like to thank Merrill Garbus, Carter Adams, Evan Low, Adam Wissing and George Langford for their gracious and warmhearted support throughout this project.
Pastor Wiley Champion - Guitar, Vocals
Harvey Lester - Keyboard
☨ Leonard Franklin - Bass
Samuel Nicholas Champion & Geronimo - Drums
Bill Bronson - Saxophone
Background vocals: Sister Mary, Mother She’ren Champion, Heliena Champion, First Lady Elma Butler, Pastor Tex Butler
Beau Sorenson Assisted by Maryam Qudus - Recording
Heba Kadry - Mastering
Darren Golda - Mastering
Scotty Hard - Premastering, Editing, Mixing
George Langford - Soundscape
Wyatt Owens - Editing
Paul Diddy - Design
Adam Wissing & Eric Welles-Nyström - Photography
Eliza Grace Martin - Liner Notes (from an interview conducted by Marc Weidenbaum)
Hayden Waggener - Lyric Transcriptions
Produced By Eric Welles-Nyström & Yale Evelev
Cover Photo: Mother Sheren Champion, First Lady Elma Butler & Pastor Tex Butler of Olive Branch Missionary Baptist Church