Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Chapman Brothers Gospel Singers of Kentwood, Louisiana

The Chapman Brother
Photo Courtesy of Lemmie Chapman III
This article is a reprint and was brought by Lucille Watson of Kentwood, Louisiana. It appeared in the November 26 issue of the Dixie, the Sunday magazine of the Times-Picayune. The Chapman Brothers are natives of Kentwood, Louisiana and were in Mrs. Watson's choir at Brown's Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, of which Rev. H.W. Andrews is pastor. By Gil T. Webre

"We sing like the Chapman Brothers. We don't have nobody' else's style." That's the way Lemmie, a one time policeman in New Orleans, and now a truck driver describes the music he and his brothers create. And that's gospel. "Gospel music tied in the traditional style, but somewhat modernized," is the way Floyd puts it. He's was a social studies teacher in Jefferson Parish school system. The blending of a traditional gospel music modern showmanship can be seen in the variety  of booking which the Chapman brothers had. Church-related appearances head the list. Occasionally, they perform at services, but usually they present special programs, independent of any services. During the fall and winter, they'll be a church Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama almost every Sunday afternoon.

Their songs are religious, with some patriotic ones (such as their Gospel version of God Bless American) thrown in for good measure. The Chapman Brothers singing group consist of vocalists Lemmie, Floyd, James (who's very animated in his leads) and occasionally Willie who handles much of the business of the group. Music is furnished by guitarists Henry and LeRoy, and drummer Norwood. 

Photo by: Jerry Lodriguss
All brothers, there are 16 Chapman children total have regularly put food on the table. So often they have problems getting together for rehearsal and to work out their gospel routines. Then to complicate matters, some other brothers either work or go to school at night. They find time to rehearse mainly on Saturday's and some weeknights, while generally limiting their booking to Saturday evening and Sundays. Between jobs and music, the Chapman's have little time to be alone with their families, but the brother look at it philsophically. If others have time for fishing and golf, they have time for singing. The Chapman's have been around Gospel music and songs ever since they were knee-high to dairy calves at their parents farm in Kentwood.

Norwood Chapman Sr., 80 was a farmer, barber, music teacher and strict disciplinarian. He and his wife Roxie 74, a teacher who quit the classroom when her family start growing. She believed that a combination of chores, study, and music was necessary for proper child development. Whenever a church or civic event around Kentwood required song, the Chapman's were always available to furnish it.