SONG PREMIERE: The Legendary Ingramettes Urge You to “Take a Look in the Book” with Rocking Funky Gospel Singing

The Legendary Ingramettes performed at 5th Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia on 2/24/19. Pat Jarrett/Virginia Humanities

Six decades of music, sixty-five years of song, generations tied together through the force of will of a matriarchy of powerful women. This is the story of African-American gospel quintet The Legendary Ingramettes, founded by Maggie Ingram (who passed away in 2015) as a way to keep her family together through hardship, and taken up by her daughter Almeta Ingram-Miller as a way to continue Maggie’s legacy.

Inspired by the black gospel male quartets of the 1940s and 50s, The Legendary Ingramettes bring roof raising harmonies and explosively powerful vocals, all driven by the voices of women. Based for many years out of Richmond, Virginia, they were led by the indomitable will of the woman they all called “Mama,” but now that Mama is gone, their new album Take A Look in the Book is the group’s first efforts with Almeta at the head. The album, due out March 20th via the Virginia Folklife Program, showcases Almeta’s bold new vision and towering vocal abilities, drawing songs from new Appalachian sources like Ola Belle Reed and Bill Withers, and reworking family favorites, some of which date back to old spirituals.

Produced by state folklorist Jon Lohman as part of the Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Humanities, Take A Look in the Book was recorded over just three days in Richmond, with most songs being cut in one take to keep the power of the group’s incendiary live performances. A live show from The Legendary Ingramettes is a house-rocking affair, with audiences literally whipped to a gospel fervor, and the recording seeks to capture the electrifying nature of the group’s performances.

Today Glide is delighted to offer an exclusive premiere of the album’s title track, which definitely lives up to the group’s energetic, uplifting performances. Firing off with a funky bass line and some truly boogieing piano, we are hit right away with Almeta Ingram-Miller’s commanding, enlightened growl. “Take a Look in the Book” is a song that doesn’t mince words as it urges the listener to dive into the Good Book. Regardless of your stance on religion, its message for seeking spirituality and positive solutions resonates in an especially poignant way as the world faces a swirl of pandemics and poison divisiveness. What’s especially noteworthy about the tune is just how much it rocks out, with the band and singers practically demanding that you follow their guidance while also having what sounds to be a fun time.    

Bandleader Almeta Ingram-Miller shares her own thoughts on the inspiration behind the song:

“By the time we learned this song I was in the 9th or the 10th grade and we were doing a tour back home. We drove back to Miami to sing and while we were down there we met a group of soldiers out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. We were sitting there and we were all talking about the issues they were having in the army, and my mom began to share her story. They asked her, ‘How do you manage to get through all this?’ She said the answer to every question that you would have, you’ll find that in the Bible. ‘Take a look in the Book.’ The book is the Bible. What you need is a word from God. My opinion doesn’t really matter much. I’ve got issues and things just like you, so I don’t want you to take just my word for it, I want you to go to a higher authority. Someone who can back up their word. A lot of times we give advice, but we don’t take that advice ourselves. We make promises, but sometimes circumstances are outside of our control. We don’t wind up keeping our word. We’re just dust and my word may not mean a lot. But if you get a word out of the Bible, that’s backed up by a higher authority here. Somebody who can actually help you with whatever problem you have. The answer is in God’s word.”

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