Concert Review: Haskell & JoLee Cooley

Last week, I had a remarkable and rare opportunity to see former Cathedrals pianist Haskell Cooley and his wife JoLee – in my home town, no less. They sang a mixture of classic songs and songs they’d written:

  • Newborn Feeling (instrumental)
  • Where Could I Go (instrumental)
  • Showers of Blessing
  • The Old Account
  • Jesus is a Waymaker Warmaker
  • He’s Everything to Me
  • In Gloryland – a song they’d written
  • Nothing is Impossible with God – ditto
  • If I Had a Hundred Lives – ditto
  • How About Your Heart – Haskell introduced this by saying it was one of the prettiest songs he’d ever heard. This intrigued me, since, perhaps due to my primary familiarity with the song being the Blackwood Brothers’ full-blast power rendition, I’d never thought of it as a “pretty song.” But it was prettier than I was expecting.
  • Medley – ? / I’ll Fly Away / He Touched Me / ? / When the Saints go Marching In
  • Happy Rhythm – JoLee, who played bass guitar throughout much of the night, played a bass guitar solo on this song, to the delight of the audience. Her style of bass guitar picking made me think of someone who had been quite tentative about it years ago, but has been playing for so long that most of that has worn off.
  • When I Need Someone to Talk To
  • Giddyup Mule – This was a novelty song that either Haskell or JoLee wrote. Surprisingly, it got the strongest response of the night—it moved the audience from laughter in one verse to tears in another, and a rousing (but not standing) ovation at the end. (The audience didn’t stand all night, but it just wasn’t the style of music where you’d expect to stand.)
  • Glory For You
  • Smooth Sailing
  • Singing Easy – written by Haskell or JoLee
  • Someone to Talk To – ditto

The concert had a relaxed pace; Haskell would play a classic and then ask if anyone in the audience knew the title. It was at a small Freewill Baptist church (though not one with screaming throughout the songs, unlike other FWB churches at which I’ve attended concerts).

Haskell Cooley played for the Cathedrals from 1974-1979, then left to sing with his wife and children. Though the children have grown up and come off the road, thirty-one years later, they are still singing together. This is genuinely (as other groups claim, with varying levels of accuracy) “Gospel music as it used to be sung” – dominant vocals, all-live instrumentation, and speakers at a far from overpowering level. If classic Gospel is your cup of tea, and they come to your area, don’t miss them.

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4 Letters to the Editor

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  1. I love the Cooleys!! I had the pleasure of meeting Haskell at the Jubilee Premier concerts in Iola, KS last year 🙂 . Gerald found out that he was there and asked him to come up and play the old Cats song that he JoLee had written … “Shout All Over Heaven”!! It was awesome! He told me that he hadn’t played that song in 10 years, but boy was he tearin’ it up! I hope to see him again sometime 😉 Glad you enjoyed the concert!

  2. The Cooleys used to sing at the church my grandparents pastored every year when I was a kid. They are sweet people.

    I think the song is Jesus is the Waymaker-not Warmaker. Funny typo though.

  3. Man, that is a fantastic opportunity. I’ve mentioned that they live just a few miles from me, I suppose, but I’ve never met them. There’s really no excuse for that…