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Why you'll love it...

The idea of weaving the street-soul poetry of Nikki Giovanni with traditional black gospel was out-the-box in 1971. Half a decade later, in this 50th-anniversary edition, it remains a marvelous, often powerful combination.

Giovanni rose to national prominence during the Black Arts Movement of the late '60s, when poets like Sonia Sanchez, Haki Madhubuti (then known as Don L. Lee), Etheridge Knight and others extended the free-flowing blues aesthetic of Langston Hughes. As he had done during the Harlem Renaissance, Giovanni and her contemporaries infused their poetry with the rhythms and uncompromising language of the street. Their poems, especially in the early days, were often flaming arrows directed toward oppressive political systems.

By 1971, Giovanni had published thr...

"Poem for Aretha" is another moving selection. As the choir sings "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," Giovanni explores the pitfalls and loneliness of fame: "Nobody mentions how it feels/To become a freak because you have talent."

The year after Truth Is On Its Way hit the streets, Aretha Franklin released her landmark return to church, 1972's Amazing Grace. Beyond being a once-in-a-lifetime singer, Aretha, like Giovanni, is a soul poet. (Check her lyrics to "Spirit In the Dark," "Without the One You Love" or "One Way Ticket" for proof of that.) It's interesting that during this period these two women, stars in the secular realm with deep roots in the Black church, made powerful artistic statements braiding the traditional with the progressive. It was all in the pursuit of remembering and lifting The Spirit, and both albums crackle with a tambourine-shaking, transcendent energy.

Truth Is On Its Way peaked at No. 15 on the R&B charts and sold gold. Giovanni would release other albums during the '70s. Her 1975 effort, the excellent The Way I Feel, featured brilliantly funky arrangements by the legendary Arif Mardin, one of Aretha's producers.

But Truth Is On Its Way remains Giovanni's musical masterpiece.

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Modern Harmonic
Original Release Year
Release Type
1 LP
33 1/3 rpm
Vinyl Size
12 inch
Foil Stamped
Clear Orange
Direct-To-Board; Single
Pressing Location
Third Man Pressing
Total Pressing Quantity
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Truth Is On Its Way

Nikki Giovanni and the New York Community Choir

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