The Trumpelettes

In 1956, Lawrence Goudy, his two brothers, four sisters, and two close friends formed the Trumpelettes in Detroit. The line-up included several outstanding vocalists and instrumentalists, notably female lead vocalist Willie Harris and male lead Walter McLaughlin, plus guitar player Ester Wilson. One Trumpelettes 45 announced itself on Detroit gospel singers Bill and Essis Moss’ Bilesse label, before Goudy and company went with BOS in 1971. They made more records for BOS than anyone else, including four albums, one of them a “Best Of’’ compilation. Bullard later brought the Trumpelettes to Birthright Records with him, issuing the 1977 album Is God Satisfied With Me? They subsequently released a 1984 album on Jackson, Mississippi’s J&B label.

The typically bluesy “You Don’t Know My Trouble” and “I’ve Been to the Top of the Mountain”—evoking Martin Luther King’s famous Memphis sermon—come from the Trumpelettes’ first two BOS albums, made in 1971 and 1973. The impassioned leads on both are provided by Willie Harris. Ester Wilson’s guitar artistry is on display on “I’ve Been to the Top of the Mountain.” Ester—the daughter of Mississippi-born harmonica-playing evangelist Elder Roma Wilson, who was recorded in Detroit in 1952—played guitar in an unusual way, holding her hand above the fretboard, rather than gripping the neck in the conventional style. The rocking “My Life Will Be Sweeter” appeared on their third album and features the lead of Walter McLaughlin and a hypnotic call-and-response with the female backing voices.

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