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Daniels, Johnny Ray – Whatever You Need – New LP
Bible & Tire Recording Company

Daniels, Johnny Ray – Whatever You Need – New LP

Regular price $ 20.00 $ 0.00
Deep down in the valley of gospel music, stretching out like the arms of a preacher with love and concern in his heart and a smile on his face.  Step in and rise up.  Another essential from the coastal plains of North Carolina. -- winch (green noise)

Johnny Ray Daniels was born in 1946 in the Beaver Dam area Greenville, North Carolina, one of seven children. The six boys in the Daniels family shared a talent for singing, which their mother never missed an opportunity to show to friends and neighbors. “My boys can sing,” she would say, and made them rise to sing in church or when company came over. Too young for drivers licenses, he and his brothers would sing together as they walked the roads to church and town.

Greenville is the largest city in rural Pitt County, situated in North Carolina’s vast, flat, coastal plain. Surrounded by country and farmland, Greenville is still a small community by most measures, and was a quiet place to grow up. Daniels was raised in a farming family, until his father quit to work at a tobacco factory in the nearby town of Farmville. His mother, who had stayed home to raise the children, soon found work in the same factory, taking night shifts while her husband worked days. Daniels’ father played guitar, but only taught his son one song. Mostly, he watched his father and trained his ear to listen. Being self-taught honed his intuition for music. “When I play, it’s like I can hear a voice in my ear saying ‘do this, do that,’” he says. “I’ve got my own style because I don’t try to play like anyone else, I just play what I hear.”

By age 20, Daniels and a group of local friends started up a rock ‘n’ roll band called the Soul Twisters. They were popular in the local music scene, part of a period in Eastern North Carolina’s history that created a generation of musical talent shaping the national emergence of funk, R&B, and soul. For almost a decade the Soul Twisters played gigs as far north as New York and as close to home as the local venues frequented by students from Eastern Carolina University. When professional bands came through town, they were often asked to be the warmup act.

One night, Daniels’ life changed forever. He was standing on stage at a white nightclub in the neighboring city of Wilson, looking out over the faces of the audience dancing and drinking. “I saw them just like a picture,” he recalls. “In the blink of an eye, it was like I could hear the Lord saying, ‘You’re in the wrong place.’” He played out the rest of his booking obligations with the Soul Twisters, and then quit the band. The nightclub had been courting them with an exclusivity contract, offering good money and a custom van to travel in, but Daniels turned it all down, to the disbelief of the club’s owner. But by then he had made his promise to turn his life over to God. “You promise the Lord something and don’t do it, some big thing could happen. You don’t make a vow to the Lord and then back up.”

After leaving his gear and his guitar with his bandmates, Daniels started his music career over again, this time in the church. He began singing with his choir while running a business doing carpet and tile installation for the schools in Pitt County. He married a woman named Dorothy Vines, who was also singing in church with her sisters under the name the Vines Sisters. Daniels began attending their church, and when they found out he could play guitar they encouraged him to play piano too, something Daniels had never done. He started on just two fingers. “I said Lord, give me that gift and I’ll play it for you. My fingers opened up and I’ve been playing ever since.” Daniels put the music to every song the Vines Sisters ever sang as the group built up a reputation as one of the most stirring gospel groups in Eastern North Carolina. Holding to a hard-driving old-school quartet style, they were soon dubbed the “Glorifying” Vines Sisters by a local radio DJ, for the way they sang and shouted for the Lord. Daniels drove the Glorifying Vines Sisters on long road trips around the national gospel circuit, often coming home to sleep for four hours before putting in a day of work and getting right back on the road again. After 54 years, he turned his business over to his son Anthony, who leads his own group The Dedicated Men of Zion and continues the musical legacy of the Daniels and Vines families.

“I just love it anyway,” Daniels says of his dedication to music. “When I get up and go sing, I pray to the Lord to bless me that I’ll be able to bless someone else. If you go to a heater and it’s got no fire on, you ain’t gonna feel nothing. But you turn it on, you’ve got heat coming out of there. I want the people to feel and hear what I’m doing. I like to bless people and I like to make people happy.” Daniels released a solo LP in 2022 with the Memphis-based record label Bible and Tire, his first time ever recording as a solo artist. “By the help of God,” he says, “I’ve done it.”

-Zoe van Buren


released May 6, 2022

Johnny Ray Daniels – Lead vocals and guitar
Anthony “Amp” Daniels – vocals
KeAmber Daniels – vocals

Produced by Bruce Watson and Will Sexton
Recorded and Mixed by Bruce Watson @ Delta-Sonic Sound – Memphis, TN

The Sacred Sound Section:
Will Sexton – Guitar, piano and mellotron
Matt Ross-Spang – Guitar
Mark Edgar Stuart – Bass
Will McCarley – Drums and Percussion
Rick Steff – Hammond Organ

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