Texas isn’t normally regarded as a “Catholic state,” but the Catholic Church has always had a lively presence there. (More about that below.) This group, from Port Arthur (the home of Janis Joplin) and down the road from Beaumont (the home of Johnny and Edgar Winter) produced one of the more interesting Catholic albums from the 1970’s amidst the oil refineries and chemical plants that dominate the “Golden Triangle.”
It’s a nice mix of folk and light pop, and its theological breadth (it has a distinctly Protestant bent in spots) is matched by a stylistic one. Similar in some ways to Corpus Christi produced Who Shall Spread the Good News, it’s livelier and less liturgical in some ways but more serious in others (especially “Cross of Shame.”) It can also be compared to the early Maranatha albums (especially Maranatha 2.)
Although it’s wasn’t the easiest album to adapt to worship and liturgy (which may explain its obscurity,) it’s a great album just to kick back, listen to, and be challenged by, which is more than can be said for a lot of post-Vatican II Catholic music.
I am from Houston, but went to Lamar University, where I got involved with campus ministry. That is where the group met each other….the core quintet: me, Debbie, Nancy, Russ and Peggy were originals: Pam came soon after; Debbie & Nancy were sisters, and later their other sister Lisa joined us for a while, as did a second flutist when Pam moved on. Russ (on the right side of the cover) died in 1993. Usually a sextet, sometimes seven voices…
WE only printed @ 1000 of the albums, sold all of them. I am not sure where the original master tapes are, but I and others have transferred the vinyl to CD I am sure.
The Kairosinger “sound” was partly shaped by the Kea sisters, who had sung from childhood, and whose dad was a solid Baptist. So that may be where a protestant flavor seeped in. But the group was 100% Catholic. However, the overarching sound was shaped by my fascination with the 60s rock/vocal group The Association. So the vocals always had a layered quality about them. You should have heard us do the Wedding Song. There are places on the album where you can “hear” James Taylor guitar-style influence (In the Spirit) and the Byrds/Dan Fogelberg (Living Water).
Another reason the album may have seemed protestant is that most of the songs are personal rather than congregational or liturgical; two exceptions – Praise & Thanks to Yahweh (a responsorial psalm) and His Love Endures Forever, with a strong refrain. Our concerts, similar again to the Association, were often an eclectic, versatile selection of songs, depending on the venue. One of our last concerts included a Peter Paul and Mary song (The Unicorn Song), the late John Stewart (Some Kind of Love), John Michael Talbot’s Holy Is His Name and Behold Now the Kingdom, and two Doc Watson arrangements: Summertime (from Porgy & Bess) and Any Old Time (Jimmy Rodgers ragtime tune). Both were enhanced by Debbie’s clarinet and Lisa’s sax. We also had a nice, a capella arrangement of How Great Thou Art. There are several other original pieces we performed as well…
Our sound was also shaped by Houston’s Keyhole singers (early 1970s), and a Christian folk music coffeehouse affiliated with the evangelical but still Anglican (at the time) Church of the Redeemer, off Telephone Rd in central east Houston. I believe Betty and Graham Pulkingham were involved at the time.
Catholic guitar-based praise/worship and liturgical music matured over the next 20 years with John M Talbot, the St. Louis Jesuits, and United Church of Christ musician Marty Haugen from Minnesota, and various other artists.
4 Replies to “Kairosingers: Of One Accord, and A Kairos Moment for Texas Catholics”
I do genealogy and search the Kea ancestry and I am related to the Kea Sisters! Awesome!
Mr. Mazzagate was a beloved teacher at Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School. He died in August of 1994. RIP. His students loved him!