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The Capitalaires


Formed in Ohio's capital city of Columbua in the late 1950s, the Capitaliares mainstays throughout their on and off again fifteen-year existence were vocalists Walter Flemming and brothers Clarence and Wallace Fowler, and the multi-talented William “Butch” Monroe, who sang, arranged, and played both four and six string guitars. They first recorded around 1964 for the Gospel Recording Company of Brooklyn, before taking a several year hiatus at the decade's close. They re-emerged with a new lead singer, William “Big Bill” Rash, who had performed and recorded with the Gospel Clouds of Joy and the Blind Boys of Alabama.


The Capitalaires recorded two BOS singles, issued in 1970 and 1971, with noted Clevelander Lou Ragland donning the producer's cap. The sound on these recordings differs distinctly from the group’s earlier recordings, clearly showing the influence of the soul revolution of the late 1960s. “Glory, Glory” is a traditional spiritual song, recorded alternately under the titles “When I Lay My Burden Down” and "Since I Laid My Burden Down" since its first appearance on shellac in 1928. It wasn't the Capitalaires' first go round with the song made famous by Odetta, Roy Acuff, and the Byrds--they'd cut it unsuccessfully in '64 with Walter Flemming singing lead.


The Capitalaires never recorded again, disbanding not long after making their quartet of BOS recordings. Butch Monroe subsequently played with other groups, including the Violinaires and the Supreme Angels, and today sings and ministers in Columbus, Ohio, as Zion’s Melody.


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