For over thirty years, DeLois Barrett Campbell, Billie Barrett GreenBey and Rodessa Barrett Porter, internationally known as The Barrett Sisters, have lifted their voices to Praise the Lord!
Called "The Sweet Sisters of Zion" by many because of their special vocal blend, these internationally known gospel singers are natives of Chicago, Illinois. As children during the thirties, they were coached by their aunt, Mattie Dacus, and began singing with a cousin. raised by religious parents, they, along with their seven other siblings, were not allowed to listen to the popular blues of the day but it is evident that they heard it somewhere as it forms an underlying current throughout their work.
Their young lives effected by the tragedy of the depression and marred by the results of poverty and sickness (they lost several siblings to the then prevalent tuberculosis), they had no dreams other than that of survival. Like many of their contemporaries, they thought that the only hope musical talent might have would be in the secular world. But they knew that this would deeply hurt their parents as the older Barretts truly believed that worldly music had no place in the lives of the saved.
While still in high school, DeLois, the eldest of the three girls, began singing with the world famous Roberta Martin Singers, emerging as one of the nation's greatest soloists. When her friend, the great Dinah Washington, suggested that she forsake gospel and pursue the blues as she had done, DeLois was truly tempted. But after much consideration and prayer, she soon realized that the blues wasn't what God had in mind for her. But she wished her friend much success and was deeply saddened when Dinah didn't live long enough to enjoy her own accomplishments.
Her work with the Roberta Martin Singers, although not a lucrative endeavor, took her around the country and introduced her to the world. But this too soon came to a halt when she married and started raising a family. Her work would now be relegated to her home and to being a pastor's wife.
Meanwhile, her sisters were busy studying their craft and pursuing family life as well. By then, Billie had now become a soloist in her own right and Rodessa was writing music and directing a choir in Gary, Indiana. In the mid-sixties, the sisters regrouped and, with the help of Roberta Martin and countless others, went on to record their first album on the Savoy label, "Jesus Loves Me." Since that time, The Barrett Sisters have become one of the world's leading female gospel groups and one of the oldest groups to still travel and perform.
Throughout their career, The Barrett Sisters have been associated with celebrities and big names in entertainment. In the 1940's, the joined the Thomas Dorsey National Singers Convention. Since then, The Barrett Sisters have appeared with numerous stars including the late Rev. James Cleveland, Andre Crouch, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Shirley Caesar, The Winans and Patti LaBelle.
The Barrett Sisters have performed at countless churches and in may prestigious concert halls including the Lincoln Center in New York City; Constitution Hall in Washington, DC; Orchestra Hall in Chicago; and Theatre DeVille in Paris. In 1983, they represented the United States as Goodwill Ambassadors to Africa and in 1987, they spent six weeks representing the country in the South Pacific. They have performed for several dignitaries including the King of Sweden and the President of Zaire, Africa. As of 1995, they had toured internationally more than thirty times.
In addition to their paid performances, they have also done countless benefits for many organizations, among them the National Council of Negro Women. They have also made a special effort to use their talent to help young people who have aspirations in the music field. In tandem with this, they regularly contribute to the United Negro Fund.
All of the sisters are active in their local churches and in the community. They make a special point of using their celebrity status to encourage their neighbors, friends and fans to make use of their right to vote.
In the 1960's, they began appearing on radio and television shows nationwide. Among their many appearances, they have been guests on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show." They've been featured many times on the locally produced Emmy award winning "Jubilee Showcase" and have also appeared on "The Stellar Awards"; "Bobby Jones Show"; "Living the Dream"; a television tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King; and the "PTL Club." In 1982, the Barrett Sisters were featured in the critically acclaimed documentary "Say Amen, Somebody" and in 1990, they were selected to appear in the PBS special "Going Home to Gospel with Patti LaBelle." Last January, they, along with countess other gospel legends, participated in a video wonder produced by Ed Smith and Bill Gaither entitled "On My Way to Heaven." Long time recording artists, The Barrett Sisters most recent release is on I AM Records and is entitled "What A Wonderful World." They are scheduled to record a new album this summer on the Brentwood label.
Because of their ongoing contribution to gospel music, The Barrett Sisters were invited to perform and participate in the Black Music Seminar at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, wherein they were the only gospel group to do so. Still active on the gospel music scene, The Barrett Sisters continue to travel the world over. They are currently writing a book about their years as gospel music artists.