Heavenly Light Quartet
Named after the song "Heavenly Light, Shine on Me", by the highly influential Black gospel quartet the Swan Silvertones, the Heavenly Lights are an a cappella male trio that captures the spirit and sound of the so-called Golden Age of Gospel, that period between the 1930s and the 1960s when a cappella singing singing was at its most sophisticated and vital. Few contemporary groups carry on this tradition today, and the Heavenly Lights' love and respect for the venerable quartet style is evident in the power and beauty of their delivery.
The tightly-arranged, yet passionately sung Black gospel style of the '40s male quartet had a major influence on R&B, soul and popular music that has lasted to this day, yet is now rarely heard outside the church. The traditional a cappella arrangements build on call and response patterns, rhythmic grooves, swapping parts, alternation of leads, and a high level of independence in the parts allowing for improvisation and embellishment.
Tony Backhouse and Stuart Davis, soloists, arrangers and composers from award-winning Sydney choir the Cafe of the Gates of Salvation, join with Rob Maxwell Jones of jazz groups Rabblescat and Blues Point to explore the intricate, rhythmic and fiery songs by such seminal groups as the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Swan Silvertones, the Spirit of Memphis Quartet, the Soul Stirrers or the Golden Gate Quartet.
Formed as a quartet in March 1996 (with William Selwyn also of the Cafe of the Gate of Salvation), the Heavenly Lights Quartet initially sang in the Sydney and Melbourne A Cappella Festivals, Melbourne International Festival, WOMADelaide, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Apollo Bay Music Festival, Brisbane Biennial Festival, Festival Fremantle, Wangaratta Jazz Festival, jazz and rock venues in Sydney and Melbourne, and broadcast on 2BL, Radio National, 2SER, Channel 10's 'Monday to Friday' and Channel 9's 'Today Show'. The HLQ also recorded with Tim Finn and Margaret Urlich and performed with Renee Geyer. Their self-titled CD was released in 1997.
Since 1999, with the departure of William Selwyn, they continue to perform successfully as a trio. Due to their other musical commitments, the Heavenly Lights tend to perform only on rare occasions, but in 2001 appeared at the Queensland Biennial Festival of Music, the Goulburn Blues Festival and at the Sydney A Cappella Festival.