Oral Interview with Earl Thrope

Albany Institute of History and Art
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:03 - Introduction

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: Today is the 9th of November, 2022 and I am here with Earl Thorpe to learn about his life and his music in Albany in particular. How are you doing today, alright?

Earl: I'm doing good today.

Lacey Wilson: I'm glad.

Earl Thorpe: Yeah, yeah.

Segment Synopsis: Lacey Wilson begins oral interview with Earl Thorpe about his early singing in Jacksonville Florida before he came to Albany. He discusses what it was like starting out and singing with his family at church.

Keywords: Harmony; performing

Subjects: Early life; Jacksonville; starting out

00:01:32 - Arrival in Albany and the Birth of the Fidelity's

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: You were 17 when you came to Albany.

Earl Thorpe: yes

LW: why Albany?

ET: why not Albany?

Segment Synopsis: Earl discusses making records with the Fidelity's, performing at the Apollo theater, and touring across the country. The songs were chosen by the record company Things I Love, Memories of You Walk with the Wind in 1958 and 1959.

Subjects: Apollo Theater; Great Migration; segregation

00:05:07 - Performing, first records and touring

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: What's it like performing at the Apollo?

Earl Thorpe: Nothing like it. I can't even describe it. You know you're at the top of your game once you've walked on that stage.

Segment Synopsis: Earl speaks about what it was like performing at the Apollo and recording the Fidelity's first singles. He also discusses the discrimination the group faced while touring.

Keywords: performing; rehearsing; segregation

Subjects: Apollo; Pennsylvania; segregation

00:12:38 - Recording of Singles

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: And you were bass?

Earl Thorpe: I sang four parts. Any part they need, I sing.

Lacey Wilson: Whatever they needed?

Earl Thorpe: Whatever they needed.

Segment Synopsis: Thorpe tells Wilson about performing around Albany. He explains what is was like working in the studio and performing their singles; Captain of my Ship, My Greatest Thrill, and Marie. Thorpe also discusses going on tour and sharing the stage with other groups.

Keywords: performing; recording; touring

Subjects: Schenectady; recording; studio

00:18:29 - Performing and Living in New York City

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: You were all living down in New York City?

Earl Thorpe: Yeah, we lived on 146th and 8th avenue. Right over the Harlem bar. We'd hear that music all day.

Segment Synopsis: Earl Thorpe shares what it was like living and performing in New York City for three years. He tells Wilson his experiences in Harlem and performing with big acts like Jackie Wilson and Domino.

Keywords: performing; record label; touring

Subjects: Apollo; Harlem; Jackie WIlson; New York City

00:23:02 - Back in Albany and Recording Music

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: And when did you come back to Albany?

Earl Thorpe: I came back to Albany in lets say around '57, '58, no '60.

Lacey Wilson: '57, '58, '60? '60?

Earl Thorpe: Yeah, around '60.

Segment Synopsis: Upon arrival back in Albany, Earl Thorpe formed a new band and got back to recording. He discusses working and recording with other acts, including Etta James. He also mentions staying in contact with former bandmates.

Keywords: collaborating; performing; recording

Subjects: Albany; Miss Maggie's Children; Twist Palace; soul; top 40

00:33:11 - The Formation of the Heavenly Echoes

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: Who else was in the band? It was you, Maurice Newton...

Earl Thorpe: B. Holmes, Andy Vincent.

Lacey Wilson: He's the one in Texas?

Earl Thorpe: Yeah, Liam Gibson (Gibby). Gibby played sax.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson asks Thorpe about the new Gospel band Thorpe joined and performing with them around Albany. He talks about how the Heavenly Echoes were different from other singing groups he has been apart of and what it was like making music with them.

Keywords: Gospel; performing; soul

Subjects: Gospel; Heavenly Echoes; James Carr

00:38:03 - The Brothers

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: I think we should probably talk about the Brothers, right?

Earl Thorpe: Yeah we can.

Lacey Wilson: It's apart of Albany Black History.

Earl Thorpe: Yeah.

Lacey Wilson: How do you remember that starting?

Segment Synopsis: Thorpe delves into how The Brothers was created and what they did for the community. He talks about their relationship with the press and the discrimination and hardships they faced.

Keywords: community; discrimination; reporters

Subjects: Community Outreach; The Brothers; Times Union Newspaper; racism

00:45:06 - Final Notes and the Metropolitan New York Chorus

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: You were involved with three bands that played around Albany. Or was it more than that?

Earl Thorpe: No.

Lacey Wilson: Just those three?

Earl Thorpe: Just those three, that's all we needed.

Segment Synopsis: Thorpe finishes with his experience in the Metropolitan New York Chorus and the transition between different bands. He speaks about the array of genres he sang and his connection to them.

Keywords: choir; music genres

Subjects: Doo-wap; Metropolitan New York Chorus; capital region; gospel; soul

Earl Thorpe

Date: November 9 2022
Catalogue Number: DM 0001

Earl Thorpe has a large influence here in Albany between his time a a members of he Doo-Wop group the Fidelity's and Found member of the Civil Rights Group the Brothers.  Listen to this interview to hear about playing at the famous Apollo Theater, the fight for Civil Rights in Albany.