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Letters: Brother Claude Ely

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Melissa Block reads e-mails from our listeners about a Pentecostal preacher in eastern Kentucky whose music inspired rock 'n' rock greats.


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

(Soundbite of song, "Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down")

Brother CLAUDE ELY (Musician): (Singing) There ain't no grave can hold my body down.

BLOCK: This song and the story behind it are the source of our letters today. Yesterday, we brought you the tale of Brother Claude Ely and the song "Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down."

(Soundbite of song, "Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down")

Brother ELY: (Singing) There ain't no grave can hold my body down.

BLOCK: Brother Claude was an itinerant Pentecostal preacher in eastern Kentucky, and his music inspired some of the biggest names in rock 'n' roll.

One listener who wrote in is a Pentecostal historian from Loudon, Tennessee. Kimberly Alexander(ph) writes this: Brother Claude Ely's legacy is an unknown national treasure.

And Jessie Trail(ph) of Glen Cove, New York, wrote to tell us: I have finally had a driveway moment. Your story about Brother Claude Ely left me in tears. I'm gay, a Democrat and a flaming liberal, but I'd follow Brother Claude Ely to the bowels of hell and back. And he adds thank you for reminding me of a cherished Pentecostal childhood.

Finally, Steven Bracket(ph) of Birmingham, Alabama, wrote to thank us for revealing the history of a song that is meaningful to his family. He writes: When my younger sister passed away many years ago at the age of six, my father asked that the song "Ain't No Grave" be sung at her funeral. And just last year when my father passed away, my mother and I asked that it be sung at his.

(Soundbite of song, "Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down")

Brother ELY: (Singing) I see a band of angels, they're coming after me because there ain't no grave can hold my body down.

BLOCK: Thank you for your comments. You can write to us by going to

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