RESERVOIR RELEASES DEBUT ALBUM FROM PHILLY GROOVE RECORDS’ NAT TURNER REBELLION 50 YEARS IN THE MAKING
Reservoir announces the release of Laugh To Keep From Crying, the long-awaited debut album from Philadelphia soul-music group and Philly Groove Records recording artists Nat Turner Rebellion. The group, made up of Joe Jefferson, Major Harris, Ron Harper, and Bill Spratley, were pioneers of the Philly Soul and protest music movements. For their debut track, “Tribute To A Slave,” NTR channeled the revolutionary spirit of the infamous 1831 uprising, after which the group derived their name.
Starting in 1969, NTR wrote and recorded dozens of tracks, but tensions with then-Philly Groove Records label head Stan Watson sidelined the project. The tapes went unheard for decades, until 2012, when Reservoir acquired Philly Groove Records and Faith Newman discovered several tapes in a Florida storage facility. Even more NTR tapes had ended up in Drexel’s Sigma Sound Studios archive. The following year, Newman tracked down Jefferson on Facebook, and eventually met with the lone-surviving NTR member, getting his blessing to release the unheard works and vowing to see the project through. Now, the 14-track collection, Laugh To Keep From Crying, makes its debut through a 5,000 vinyl record run via a partnership with Drexel University’s Mad Dragon Records along with distributor Vinyl Me, Please. Reservoir will make the album available digitally on all streaming platforms worldwide on March 29.
“I would like to take a moment to personally thank Faith Newman and the entire Reservoir team,” remarked Jefferson. “It’s crazy when someone you just met is in your head, almost like they’ve known you all your life. That’s Faith Newman. Working with her, for me, was akin to working with a Linda Creed or Thom Bell or my road manager Sam Jackson. People who I knew were going to give 1000% when I knew only 100% was necessary. That’s Faith and if you know her, you know that about her. I’m not claiming to know everything about Faith, but I do know this: if you’ve got her in your corner, your chance of scoring a knockout increases threefold than without her. So here we are, paying tribute to ‘My Friend Nat’ 50 years later. My only wish is that the other members of the rebellion could be here and witness this firsthand: Bill Spratley (Baritone), Ron Harper (First Tenor), Major Harris (Lead/First Guitar), Sam Jackson (Manager). My sincerest thanks to Reservoir and Drexel/Mad Dragon Records. I am humbled by this experience.”
“While these recordings capture a significant moment in history, they are just as relevant and powerful now as when they were originally recorded,” says Newman. “We are pleased to work with Drexel and Mad Dragon in helping these recordings see the light of day in Joe Jefferson’s lifetime and honored that he entrusted us with preserving the legacy of the project.”
This marks the latest in a series of partnerships between Drexel and Reservoir, who previously teamed up on a semester-long music-mixing class called Uncovering Philly Groove in 2015, and again in 2017 for a project that sourced the Philly Groove catalog to create new music for reggae artist Bitty McLean’s Bitty In Philly album.
Watch the lyric video for “Tribute To A Slave” below:
Stream the album here: