Goner Records is very proud to announce the extraordinary new album from renowned gospel blues singer-guitarist Reverend John Wilkins. TROUBLE arrives everywhere on Friday, September 18. TROUBLE is heralded by today’s premiere of the album’s powerful title track, available now at all DSPs and streaming services.
“I had been thinking about writing the song ‘Trouble’ for some time,” says Reverend Wilkins. “We all have troubles, and over the last few years it seemed like every time I turned on the TV or picked up a paper there was a school shooting. There were people hurting others, hurting themselves. In the White House there were troubles, nearly nothing getting fixed, leading to more trouble. And look where we are now. But we will find a way…I just needed to find a stanky beat!”
TROUBLE was recorded at the world famous Royal Studios in Memphis, TN with Grammy-nominated producer Amos Harvey and eminent engineer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell (Solomon Burke, Al Green, Cody Chesnutt). Rev. Wilkins – who grew up just a few blocks away from the iconic studio – was backed by a stellar lineup of Memphis session giants including guitarist Kevin Cubbins (Beale Street Caravan), keyboardist Rev. Charles Hodges (Al Green, Ann Peebles, North Mississippi Allstars), bassist Jimmy Kinnard (Issac Hayes, Al Green), drummer Steve Potts (Greg Allman, Tony Joe White, Neil Young, Cat Power). In addition, the album sees harmonies and call-and-response backing vocals from Wilkins’ three beloved daughters, Tangela Longstreet, Joyce Jones, and Tawana Cunningham.
Though born in Memphis, the Reverend John Wilkins is a legendary figure in the North Mississippi Hill Country, preaching for the last three decades at Hunters Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Como, MS. Wilkins – who is currently at home recuperating after a two-month battle with COVID-19 – grew up surrounded by country, gospel, and blues, inspired by his community and by his father, legendary gospel blues singer-turned-preacher Robert Wilkins, known for such milestone records as “That’s No Way To Get Along” (later renamed “Prodigal Son” and famously covered by The Rolling Stones on 1968’s BEGGARS BANQUET). Following in his father’s footsteps, Wilkins walked the line between the sacred and the secular, playing guitar with the M&N Gospel Singers for 20 years while also sitting in on such landmark Memphis recordings as O.V. Wright’s 1965 classic, “You’re Gonna Make Me Cry.”
In 1985, Wilkins followed his father’s call to ministry by becoming resident pastor at Hunter’s Chapel in Como, MS, leading a congregation that has included generations of North Mississippi musicians, from Othar Turner and Napolian Strickland to the Hill Country’s own Mississippi Fred McDowell. Having devoted much of his life to the church, Wilkins finally made his long-awaited solo debut in 2015 with the acclaimed YOU CAN’T HURRY GOD, showcasing his fingerpicking, rural blues style and remarkable vocal power.
With TROUBLE, Wilkins has crafted an even more potent collection, infused with a lifetime of knowledge and experience garnered in the birthplace of Black music in America. Stirring tracks like “Wade In The Water,” “The Darkest Hour” (originally performed by Ralph Stanley), and Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” see him fusing blues and gospel to create a distinctly individual music marked by both a deep regional connection and sense of universal humanity, a luminous and uplifting approach that feels all the more necessary in our currently chaotic world.
Thankfully, the Reverend John Wilkins has survived his battle with COVID-19 and is currently resting at home surrounded by loved ones.
“Gave God some praise,” Wilkins recently told Memphis’ WREG, “‘cause he been good to me.”