Ernie Hines
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Ernie Hines

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| INDIE | AFM
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Ernie Hines -- There is a Way. . . CD . . . $1299
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Baby Blue Records
New work from Ernie Hines -- a singer that we know best for his 70s work on Stax! This set's quite different than Ernie's more famous work from 30 years back -- a sweet album of spiritual tunes that's got some nice bluesy undertones ¬- done in a modulated instrumental style that skips along with a pretty nice groove. Given that the subject matter is gospel, the album's a bit out of our usual bag -- but we can recommend it for Ernie's great vocals, which only seem to have deepened with age. A few of the tracks get a bit cheesy, but overall the album's not bad -- and tracks include "I See The Day", "I'm Going Home", "Close To Thee", "It's Me", "Your Servant's Prayer", "0 Wicked Man", and "The Cross In My Pocket". (Dusty Groove America)
- Dusty Grove America


By Tom Holmes

Ernie Hines, a long-time Forest Park resident and a member of Forest Park Baptist Church, made a name for himself as a recording artist on the famous Stax Records label. In his apartment, he has a 12-inch stack of 45 rpm records he recorded, produced, or wrote music for. His records are on the Wall of Fame in the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

But with the release of his new CD, There is a Way, Ernie has turned to a different kind of soul music. According to his promotional material, There is a Way is a “blending of Christian contemporary, gospel, patriotic and love-provoking songs.” In putting out a Christian album, Ernie is joining a long and loved tradition of black folks who grew up in church and developed musically by singing in the choir and playing in the praise band. Singers like Patti LaBelle, Al Green, Pop Staples and Phillip Bailey from Earth, Wind and Fire made their fame and fortune recording songs for the secular market, and then in their maturity, went back to their roots and made music for God.

These artists were financially secure and had nothing to prove artistically. Likewise, in this most recent effort, Ernie is free to sing from his heart. “God has blessed me,” he said, “I don’t have to do this for financial reasons. It’s like there’s a fire shut up in me. I have to tell someone.”

Jodi Gianakopoulos from Old School Records on Madison Street said Ernie “is making the art he wants to make, the way he wants to make it. Ernie has the integrity to do it.”

For example, in track four on There is a Way, Ernie sings an intimate and very personal testimonial with a country-gospel groove entitled, “Your Servant’s Prayer.”

“This is my life you’re hearing,” he commented as he played the song:

Lord, you know me, You’ve always known,
Knew me before the day I was ever born.
You saw me grow, your guarding angels,
Watching over me, guiding me.
At a young and tender age
My darling mother opened up the pages
Of the Holy Bible and set the stage that
Led me to You, a love so true.

At Mt. Calvary, I was baptized,
The Reverend Whitfield said, ‘Close you eyes.’
He took me under and washed me clean.
You set me free, glory to thee.

My darling mother gone on ahead,
And in your care, I’ll meet her there.
The wife I loved, You took her too,
But left a son to see me through.
In spite of all my ups and downs,
You stand by me, you bless me.

“If you listen carefully to this song,” Ernie said, “you’ll hear my voice break. It’s always hard for me to get through this one, because it’s so close to my heart. Every time I sing it, I break up.”

Some of the cuts on There is a Way make the listener want to classify the album as contemporary/gospel. For example, Ernie serves up the classic “Standing in the Need of Prayer” with a bluesy, gospel flavor. “He Shed His Blood” is about the passion of Christ and has a hip hop groove. “I’ll Thank My Loving Savior” is a song that a Christian contemporary singer like Amy Grant could sing.

But Ernie’s latest CD is hard to pigeonhole, because it contains songs like “O Wicked Man,” which is more of a cry of protest than a gospel tune. In verses one and three, Ernie declares:

Need to know one thing, O wicked man.
Does the Bible teach you to raise your hand?
On the weak and downtrodden too,
On the ones not strong like you?

You’re living large, O wicked man.
And dishing out all the hurt you can.
But when payback time comes a-calling you,
Gonna wish you had that friend to run to.

To complicate things even more, Ernie Hines threw a patriotic song with an R&B feel into the mix. The first two verses of “I Love America” go like this:

I love America, sweet liberty
I love America, land of the free.
America. I’d die for thee,
I’d die for thee.

No other place on earth is so dear to me.
There’s not another place I would rather be.
America, tower of prosperity,
Tower of prosperity.

That Ernie had made his living as a singer, musician, songwriter and producer for many years is revealed in the variety of musical styles on display in There is a Way. The songs range in style from rhythm and blues, gospel and Christian contemporary pop to hip hop and country gospel. “However God gives it me, that’s how it comes out,” he said. He acknowledged that, in addition to God, his influence include years of experience playing and singing many different kind of music.

Will There is a Way be a big seller? While Ernie doesn’t care about the money and fame that come with topping the charts, he does want his latest effort to reach as large an audience as possible because of its message.

Jodi and Peter Gianakopoulos, owners of Old School Records, have been fans of Ernie Hines for a long time. They respect his ability as a performer and songwriter. Jodi said the production quality is state-of –the-art. Peter said the album has the feel of an independent producer, as opposed to the flashy style of - Forest Park Review 2004


Electrified Ernie Hines
We Produce

GETTIN DUSTY: By Austin “The Judge” Wheeler. “I didn’t get a sense that anything was wrong,” explains Ernie Hines, “but little did I know that the walls were caving in!” The year was 1970, and “the walls” were none other than the hallowed halls of Stax Records. The label that was once called the “Motown of the South” was beginning to fade, but their newest artist (Ernie Hines), couldn’t tell the difference. “I was the new kid on the block,” remembers Hines, “it could have been falling down around me and I wouldn’t have known because I wasn’t in there enough to get a sense of the feeling of the inner workings. Everybody was nice to me, from Deanie Parker to Jim Stewart and Al Bell. They were all nice to me. I didn’t get a sense that anything was wrong. We had good material, I knew we had good production and I knew we had a good performance, so I was excited. I was excited to be recording for Stax.” Today, a wiser Hines understands: “I realize now why it didn’t get the promotion that it should’ve gotten. Because I was dead in the water to begin with, I was probably a last hope, you know.” The “last hopes” would mark the beginning of the end for Stax, but only the beginning for Earnest L. Hines.

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Ernie first began turning heads in the blackest churches of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “I come from a gospel background,” he explains, “that’s what I was doing in Louisiana before I went with the Slim Harpo Blues Band and then went on the road with L.C. It was just a natural progression for me.” “L.C” was none other that L.C. Cooke (the brother of Sam Cooke, whose untimely death would lead Ernie and the rest of the band right back to Baton Rouge). It was there that Ernie met Roscoe Robinson. Robinson had just recorded big hits for Wand Records (“That’s Enough” and “One More Time,”) and invited Ernie to Chicago for his first record date for Wand. In spring of 1967, Robinson and Hines piled into the legendary Chess studios on South Michigan Avenue, and recorded “We’re Gonna Party,” “Sincerely Mine,” “Rain, Rain, Rain” and “Thank You Baby (for a Love Beyond Compare).” Shortly there-after Roscoe Robinson had a falling out with Wand, leaving Ernie to shop the records elsewhere. Chicago-based USA Records eventually put out “Thank You Baby” and “We’re Gonna Party” getting Hines his first taste of the spotlight, turning a few industry heads in the process. One of the heads belonged to the legendary Johnny Pate (!) who encouraged Ernie to set up his own publishing company, to be called Colorful Music. The other head belonged to John Johnson (the publisher of Ebony, Jet and Black Stars magazines). One of Johnson’s major advertisers at the time was Al Bell of Stax Records, and one of his executive secretaries was also the wife of Hines. A connection was made, and soon after history was made as John Johnson handed Al Bell a copy of Ernie Hines’ demo.

In March of 1970, Stax released “Help me put out the Flame in my Heart.” The 45 not only introduced Hines to the world, it also marked the first appearance of Tom Nixon as a producer for Stax Records. Nixon, who was previously an engineer for Motown, was one of the first producers to notice that all top ten hits had similar beats per minute (and even carried a stopwatch to his sessions to insure that he stayed within that range). The success of the single landed Ernie Hines an album deal, and Tom Nixon got his own Stax division (We Produce).

In January of 1971, We Produce Records made its debut with the release of a 45 by The Temprees (XPA-1801), and “Electrified Love” b/w “Come on Y’all” 45 by Ernie Hines (XPA-1802). Radio airplay soon followed, and Chi-town’s WVON lead the way. “WVON was big here in Chicago,” remembers Hines, “Herb Kent, E. Rodney Jones, they all played it, and then Johnson Publishing (Ebony, Jet, etc.) had a radio station at the time, WJPC, that broadcast from the Johnson facility on Michigan Ave. It was big in New Orleans and big in Ohio, and I understand in the Twin Cities, my song was above Aretha Franklin’s song! I think she had “I’ve Never Loved a Man” out at that time.”

The support gave Nixon the energy to finish the album, but Ernie was still a couple of songs short of a full-length. The Stax producer encouraged Hines to call Chicago-based songwriter Leon Moore, who had just penned Ernie’s “Come On Y’all” a few months earlier. Hines met the songwriter at his house where Moore showed him a politically driven song entitled “Younger Generation.” The two decided that “Our Generation” would pack more punch. A name change followed and Ernie recorded a scratchy demo of Leon’s song and mailed it to Tom Nixon in Memphis. Nixon fleshed out the music for “Our Generation” with the help of one of four ridiculous studio groups: The MG’s, The Bar-Kays, The Malaco Rhythm Section, and Isaac Hayes’ “Hot Buttered Soul” band, The Movement. The result was a work of - Elemental Magazine 2003


Discography

USA Records - Singles by Ernie Hines:

1. Thank You Baby (For a Love Beyond Compare)
2. We're Gonna Party
3. Rain, Rain, Rain
4. Sincerely Mine

Stax/We Produce Records - The Singles:

1. Help Me Put Out the Flame (In my Heart)
2. A Better World (For Everyone)
3. Electrified Love
4. Come on Y'all
5. Our Generation
6. What Would I Do (Without Your Love)

Stax/We Produce Records - The Album:

1. Electrified Ernie Hines

Baby Blue Records / CD single:

1. My Baby Wears the Lovin' Crown
2. Can You Put it to Music

Baby Blue Records / CD - The Album:

1. Ernie Hines - There is a Way (Inspirational Songs of Faith Hope & Love)

Photos

Bio

Contact: CMBBR, Inc (708) 771-3945

ERNIE HINES has done it all from the boys glee club and choral music groups in school to singing in his uncle’s family quartet: from playing semi-pro baseball (Duluth, Minnesota) and quarterback of his high school and college football teams; to performing with local gospel groups of Jackson, Mississippi.

He worked with Johnnie Taylor, Roscoe Robinson, and on recommendation of a popular local radio Deejay, Ernie became a personal guitarist for L.C. Cook.

His first effort, which was released on USA Records was recorded in the famed Chess Records studio, and was comprised of four R&B songs: We’re Gonna Party, Thank You Baby (For A Love Beyond Compare), Rain, Rain, Rain, and Sincerely Mine.

A prolific writer and composer, more than fifty of his songs have been recorded over the years.

He was one of the performers at the Watt/Stax Revue in Los Angles before 90,000 fans. He then worked the “nightclub/cocktail lounge” circuit through the eighties.

Ernie’s records are on the Wall of Fame in the new Stax Museum of American Soul Music located at 870 East McLemore Avenue, Memphis.

Colorful Music Publishing and Baby Blue Records are both Ernie's companies and were incorporated in 2000. A single compact disc The Lovin’ Crown – (b/w) – Put It to Music – was released on his record label in 2003.

He is long time member of the Chicago (Local 10-208) and American Federation of Musicians & Canada unions.

The current CD on Baby Blue Records, Ernie Hines: There is a Way, is filled with inspirational songs of faith, hope, and love. It is well written and well produced by the man with a voice that is, as one minister put it, “As smooth as silk!”