In Bars and Churches, the Glorifying Vines Sisters Will Lift You Up

Alice Vines, Dorothy Vines Daniels, Audrey Vines, and Mattie Vines Harper, known collectively as The Glorifying Vines Sisters, are musical matriarchs of Eastern North Carolina. Since 1958, the group has been tearing up the road and tearing up every church they visit. But they don’t confine themselves to churches; they’re comfortable playing secular venues, too.

“If we’re going to do like Jesus did,” says singer and manager Alice Vines, “then we’re going to go wherever we’re called to go. And we’re going to enjoy ourselves when we get there.”

“My great-grandparents and grandparents were not educated because state laws prohibited the education of slaves; but they developed their own language, music, and other means of communication. My family has always been talented. That’s where my girls got some of their talent.” Arie Gay Vines Artis, mother of the Vines Sisters

The Vines sisters’ music is steeped in the traditions of quartet gospel—a style that came into its own in the 1930s with groups like the Soul Stirrers and the Dixie Hummingbirds. Over the years they have shared the stage with many of the biggest names in the genre, including the Mighty Clouds of Joy and the Swanee Quintet. But while the Vines Sisters can wreck the house with the best of them, they also bring a distinctive sweetness and a mellow funkiness to their music. One of their early songs, “Jesus Never Fails,” is built on a rock-solid 6/8 groove with the accompanying voices falling perfectly in the pocket. This musical foundation helps push lead singer Dorothy to a performance that rivals those of other famous gospel Dorothys (like Dorothy Love Coates and Dorothy Norwood).

Once they had released records, the Sisters hit the road. Alice says of their experiences traveling, “Some of it was good, and some of it wasn’t good.” Money was rarely guaranteed and sometimes they crossed several state lines to get to a program, only to discover upon arrival that the event had been canceled. But when they did sing, it was something. And if you hear them today—whether at a church in Farmville, a bar in Durham, or one of their stops along the road—the Glorifying Vines Sisters will lift you up, in both body and spirit.

 

Top photo by Tim Duffy.

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