Brockington Chorale Ensemble
Brockington Chorale Ensemble

Excerpt from Cooler Than Ice: Arctic Records and the Rise of Philly Soul:

The Philadelphia-based Brockington Chorale Ensemble, a traditional Gospel aggregation, was formed in 1963 by Professor Irvin Brockington, fulfilling his dream to bring together some of Philadelphia’s top spiritual voices in a mass choir setting. They debuted that November, swiftly gaining a well-deserved reputation around the city.

The two-part “How I Got Over” featured Rufus Brown in the lead vocalist role. It was recorded live on remote equipment at the Refuge Bibleway Church of Christ. The powerful voices of the expansive Chorale resonate heavenward behind Brown’s melismatic lead.  The first part is rich and expressive at a slower tempo; Part 2 is a raveup, complete with electric bass and a fake ending. It was included on the Chorale’s eponymous Arctic album, the label’s second long-playing release.

“I Feel The Spirit Moving” takes a torrid tempo, a hearty male vocalist spreading joy in front of a thundering rhythm section anchored by a driving organist and full choir. Much more stately, “He’s There” features a different male vocalist confidently leading the choir through a moving spiritual built around an unusual doo-wop-oriented chord structure.

In 1967, Rev. James Cleveland invited them to participate in his Gospel Music Workshop Convention of America in Detroit.

The Brockington Chorale Ensemble moved over to HOB after they left Arctic. Their exciting version of “Up Above My Head” was done at Scepter Recording Studios in New York and led by a female member of the aggregation (its composition was credited to Professor Irvin Brockington). Their HOB encores included versions of “Hello Sunshine” and “Oh Happy Day.”

The visionary leadership of the Professor ensured that the Brockington Chorale Ensemble would endure for decades; it was still recording in the new millennium.


Cooler Than Ice: Arctic Records and the Rise of Philly Soul