October 11, 2022

The Harlem Gospel Travelers share new four-song radio sampler from their new LP "Look Up!"

“When everything was stripped away, all we had left was the music,” says singer Ifedayo Gatling. “Difficult as it was, we realized that God was opening a door, and it was up to us to walk on through to the other side.”

It’s on the other side that we meet a transformed Harlem Gospel Travelers, complete with a new album, a new lineup, and a new lease on life. Produced by Eli Paperboy Reed, Look Up! marks the group’s first full-length release as a trio, as well as their first collection of totally original material, and it couldn’t have come at a more vital moment. The music still draws deeply on the gospel quartet tradition of the ’50s and ’60s, of course, but there’s a distinctly modern edge to the record, an unmistakable reflection of the tumultuous past few years of pandemic anxiety, political chaos, and social unrest. The songs here are bold and resilient, facing down doubt and despair with faith and perseverance, and the performances are explosive and ecstatic, fueled by dazzling vocal arrangements punctuated with gritty bursts of guitar and crunchy rhythm breaks. It’d be easy to classify the album as “retro” or “vintage,” but the truth is that the young men of The Harlem Gospel Travelers aren’t just reviving sounds from the past, they’re revitalizing them for the present and reminding us just how relevant this music is (and always has been) in times of hardship and uncertainty.

“Gospel’s at the root of everything,” says Gatling. “Country, folk, rock, soul, blues; we love it all, and it’s all in there.”

Gatling and his fellow Travelers—singers George Marage and Dennis Bailey—were all familiar with gospel music to one degree or another growing up, but it wasn’t until their introduction to Reed that they began to learn about the rich history of the gospel quartet and timeless groups like The Soul Stirrers, The Dixie Hummingbirds, and The Swan Silvertones. See, back in high school, Gatling and Marage were participants in a non-profit music education program known as Gospel For Teens, which invited kids from all over New York to come to Harlem and sing after school. 

Born out of this non-profit music education program led by Reed, The Harlem Gospel Travelers released their debut LP, He’s On Time, to rave reviews in 2019, with PopMatters hailing the album’s “musical transcendence” and AllMusic praising it as “dreamlike and joyous.” The record charted on Billboard, earned the Travelers high profile fans like Elton John (who invited them to appear on his Rocket Hour radio show on Apple Music), and landed them festival slots everywhere from Pilgrimage to Telluride Jazz.

That elevation is clear from the start of the album, which opens with the exhilarating title track "Look Up!" Like so much of the album, the song insists on hope and believing in a brighter tomorrow. “You’ve got to raise your gaze above the haze and find yourself some better days,” Gatling and Marage sing, alternating back and forth on the lead, while the fervent “Hold On (Joy Is Coming)” finds strength in a moment of weakness.

The tender “Help Me to Understand” shines a spotlight on drummer Aaron Frazer (Durand Jones & The Indications, Yola), who sat behind the kit on the first record but returns to lend his soulful vocals here, while the high octane “I’m Grateful” raises the rafters with a little help from Gatling’s mother, Pastor Cynthia McCants.

The Harlem Gospel Travelers’ new album Look Up! Is out now via Colemine / Karma Chief Records.  

The Harlem Gospel Travelers Live Dates:

Thu. Nov. 10 College Street Music Hall - New Haven, CT

Fri. Nov. 11 Capitol Theatre - Port Chester, NY

Sat. Nov. 12 XL Live - Harrisburg, PA

Fri. Dec. 16 Outpost in the Burbs at the FCC Montclair - Montclair, NJ

For interview and media requests:

Tony Bonyata | Pavement PR



For booking enquiries:

Michael Morris | Mint Talent Group