Reverend Louis Overstreet was born in Louisiana in 1947. He began singing in gospel quartets and preaching at a young age, before settling in Phoenix, Arizona in 1961. It was in Phoenix that Overstreet was discovered by Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records, who would record and release the album Rev. Louis Overstreet — His Guitar, His Sons and the Congregation of St. Luke’s Powerhouse Church of God in Christ. Seriously raw, intense homespun gospel, Overstreet’s recordings have most recently appeared on the Mississippi Records tape, Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die, and the 2009 Tompkins Square compilation, Fire in My Bones: Raw, Rare and Other-Wordly African-American Gospel 1944-2007.
The following video is a prime example of the impassioned vocal and musical performances that went down in Overstreet’s church. Raw and hypnotic, the clip is culled from the 1963 German documentary, Down Home Music: A Journey Through the Heartland, which is available on DVD through Arhoolie Records. Shouting, stomping and the Holy Ghost follow. words / c depasquale