“What comes from the heart reaches the heart,” says gospel great Roy Tyler. “And when I sing, I put all my heart into my music so it touches the hearts of the people who listen.” Today he’s at the top of his craft, leading his aptly named band New Directions, and the sound of traditional gospel, into the future without sacrificing the styles or his own deep roots. “I’ve created a new kind of music I call ‘swamp gospel’,” says Tyler. “It carries the same spiritual message that’s always been part of gospel music, but it incorporates down-home blues, pop, soul, and a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll. That blend helps people who perhaps haven’t been able to relate to gospel music before to enjoy it and maybe even hear its message.”

Tyler and New Directions unveiled that sound on their critically heralded 2004 debut Three Way Calling. With fellow gospel hero Clarence Fountain of the Blind Boys of Alabama and his longtime protégée Raphael Saadiq of Tony! Toni! Toné! as his guests, Tyler leads his band through 13 numbers that revel in his warm, soaring voice — all honey and chocolate on numbers like the uplifting “Brighter Day” and “New Direction,” deep and commanding on the O.V. Wright classic “Four & Twenty Elders,” and arcing angelically heavenward on the traditional “Jordan River.”

Produced by Robert Cray band keyboardist Jimmy Pugh who plays organ and piano on eight of its numbers, Three Way Calling summoned Tyler back into the studio for the first time since he left the Gospel Hummingbirds in the late ’90s. “It was wonderful to get back to harmonizing and creating new music again,” says Tyler, “and right now I’m working on songs for a new album that will take my concept of swamp gospel even further.” 


“The Gospel Hummingbirds and Roy Tyler are responsible for the path my musical career has taken. Roy Tyler is like a father figure to me and it is his guidance, expertise, and his understanding of music that has helped me grow. His love for playing gospel music mixed in with his love for R&B has helped me find a balance for the two genres in my own music.” — Raphael Saadiq

“One of the best gospel albums of the year.” – Clarence Fountain (The Blind Boys of Alabama)


Roy Tyler: Lead Vocals (all tracks)
Jim Pugh: Organ (tracks 8, 9, 12); Electric Piano (tracks 1, 2, 5, 9, 11); Reason (track 6, 7); Clavinet (track 1); Xylophone (track 9); Acoustic Piano (track 3); Engineer (tracks 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12); Producer (all tracks except 2); Mixing Engineer (tracks 2, 4)
David Tompkins: 2nd Tenor (tracks 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12); Guitar (all tracks except 2, 7)
Mark Johnson: Bass Guitar (tracks 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13)
Marcus Walker: 1st Tenor (tracks 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13); Organ (tracks 4, 10, 13)
Mack Rankin: 1st Tenor (tracks 2, 7, 8)
Lewis Thompson: 2nd Tenor (tracks 2, 7, 8)
Eddie Rankin: Baritone (tracks 2, 7, 8)
Curtis Fullard: 2nd Tenor (tracks 4, 10, 13); Drums (tracks 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 13)
Tony La Frano: Electric Piano (track 12)
Joe Mack: Drums (track 12)
Russell Branch: Baritone (tracks 4, 10, 13)
Johnny Evans: Baritone (tracks 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12)
Clarence Fountain: Guest Duet Lead Vocal (track 9)
Raphael Saadiq: Lead Vocals (tracks 2, 7); Backing Vocals (track 2); Producer (track 2, 7); All Instruments (tracks 2, 7)
Hank Cooper: Guitar (tracks 6, 8)
Joe Thomas: Bass Guitar (tracks 1, 8, 9)
Donto James: Drums (tracks 1, 8, 9)


Pete Carlson: Engineer (tracks 4, 10, 13)
Scott Mathews: Engineer (all tracks except 4); Producer (track 6, 7); Triangle (track 2); Mastering Engineer (all tracks)
Tom Leukens: Engineer (tracks 3, 5, 11); Mixing Engineer (all tracks except 4)
Miles Boisen: Engineer (track 12)
Marco Martin: Engineer (tracks 1, 8, 9)
David Earl: Executive Producer
Tiki Town, Mill Valley, CA: Mixed (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13); Recorded (track 3, 5, 11); Mastered (all tracks)
Bayview Studios, Richmond, CA: Recorded (tracks 4,10,13)
Studio 880, Oakland, CA: Recorded (tracks 1, 8, 9)
The Mont, Piedmont, CA: Recorded (tracks 1, 8, 9)
The Days Inn, Sacramento, CA: Recorded (tracks 9)
Creekside, Oakland, CA: Recorded (tracks 3, 5)
37th Street Baptist Church, Oakland, CA: Recorded (tracks 11, 12)
Guerilla Uphonics, Oakland, CA: Recorded (track 12)
Digital editing by David Earl and Steve Cyphers at Severn Sound Studio, Severn, MD
Photography by Leslie Hirsch, Hirsch Photography
CD design by Kate Moss, Moonshine Design

Severn CD0027