The Mystery of The Carols©2005JCMarion


The vocal group kown as The Carols remain one of the great mystery groups of all time. Not a lot is known about them and any history has mostly been lost over the half century of passing time. What is jnown is that although the group did not play any important part in the history of the music, and mention of their name brings mostly shrugs and more questions, they were one of the very first Rhythm & Blues vocal groups to be signed to a major record label. They were formed during the late nineteen forties in Detroit when members of a gospel group called The United Baptist Five decided to go to secular music and called themselves The Carols. As with all vocal groups during those years they were influenced by The Inkspots, Ravens, and the new group from Baltimore, The Orioles. The members of The carols were Tommy Evans, Richard Coleman, Bill Davis, Wilbert Tindall, and James Worthy on piano. During the day the five found work at the General Motors auto plant, and at night worked on their harmony and music presentation.

The followed the usual trail for musical talent on the rise by entering a number of amateur talent showcases in the area, especially one held at the Frolic Show Bar. Along the way this turned into a semi-permanent gig at the club and also was the source of a manager named Hyman Gastman. He was the one who pushed for his new group and proceeded to score a number of important bookings for The carols including bookings in Detroit, Chicago, and New York. Somehow he managed to secure a recording contract for the group on Columbia Records that paragon of "safe" popular music in the early fifties. During the spring of 1950 Columbia reports that it is working to increase its position in the R & B field by signing a number of new acts including The Carols. By June their first release for Columbia is out pairing "Please Believe Me" and "Drink Gin" on # 30210. This is followed in late August with "If I Could Steal You From Somebody Else" and "I Should Have Thought" on # 30217. Neither record does much of anything for Columbia or the group and to this day remain one of the rarest of all vocal group records from the early fifties.

The next mention of the group comes two years later in May of 1952 when it is announced that Al Green a former manager for Johnny Ray has taken over management of the group from Hymie gastman and is planning to have them record for Decca Records. Nothing becomes of these plans and one year later in May of 1953 Savoy Records announces that they have signed The Carols to that label. Soon the label sets up a recording session in their hometown of Detroit. On April 27, 1953 The Carols get together with a small combo headed by T.J. Fowler that features David Hamilton on guitar. They record "I Got A Feelin" and "Fifty Million Women" which are released on Savoy # 896. Two other songs are recorded at that session but never released on record. They are "Call For Me" and "Mighty Lak A Rose". On the session Kenneth Duncan took some of the lead chores as he replaced Richard Coleman. Once again there was very little in the way of sales or airplay for the group. In late 1953 Tommy Evans who had impressed Ravens manager Nat Margo at a Detroit in person appearance, was offered a replacement job in The Ravens to step in for Jimmy Ricks. Evans also spent some time as a member of The Drifters in the early nineteen sixties. This move spelled the end of the line for The Carols and they are now consigned to a far corner of the story of R & B vocal group history. Their effort remains on a CD of Savoy label early vocal group sides that features the song "Fifty Million Women".

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