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The Gospel Ranger

One of the last songs that Johnny Cash recorded before he died was called, “There Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down).”

But that song is not a Johnny Cash original. “Ain’t No Grave” was actually written in 1934, by a 12-year-old boy named Claude Ely. Ely went on to become an itinerant Pentecostal preacher known to his followers as Brother Claude, the Gospel Ranger. Brother Claude was a fiery speaker and an electrifying singer. Outside the Appalachian mountains, his name was barely known. But his music helped influence some of the pioneers of rock & roll.

This year marks 90 years since “Ain’t No Grave” was written. So, this week on the podcast, we’re revisiting the story behind that song, and one man’s search to know more about his uncle.

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