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The Mighty Imperials


The Melodyaires of Dayton, Ohio, transformed as older members left and were replaced by new members, notably the talented writing/arranging team-up of singer/instrumentalists Larry Coleman and Calvin “Skip” Skipper, plus singers Cornelius Herringand Wayne Dedrick. When they became the Mighty Imperials, the Melodyaires were under contract to Nashboro’s subsidiary Creed label and had made one single for it. They continued with Nashville-based Creed under their new name, making at least three more singles and an excellent album, late 1972’s A Look At the Mighty Imperials.


Unity, the Imperials’ BOS album, was issued in 1975, but it would be the group’s final recording—they disbanded after Calvin Skipper joined the military that same year. Rev. Larry Coleman now pastors aSpringfield, Ohio, church and is still singing, sometimes joined by “Skip” Skipper, his lifelong friend.


Both “Unity” and “We Need Him Now” were written and arranged by Coleman and Skipper, and Skipper’s guitar work stands out on both tracks. Coleman took lead on “Unity,” a plea for togetherness at home and around the world. The song is in a style that would come to be known as “inspirational”—it has a strong Christian-based message, but no overt religious references. Coleman and Skipper say they wanted to “reach a broader audience than just our traditional quartet. We wanted to do something that could be played on both sides...could cross over and reach the secular as well.” Calvin Skipper sings the falsetto lead on the more traditional “We Need Him Now,” which is based on the widely recorded “If We Ever Needed the Lord Before (We Sure Do Need Him Now).” Both Imperials BOS sides achieve a sound more like some of the group soul recordings coming out of northern cities such as Philadelphia and Detroit than the “old-school” gospel quartet sound.


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