December 18, 2021
Growing up in England, Opal Louis Nations was passionate about soul music and followed his calling to perform it amid England’s soul and blues scene. In this interview Opal shares the roots of the painful history of gospel music and its evolution through decades of the 20th century to the 1960s. The episode includes rare music from his vast vinyl collection along with Opal's candid and brilliant humor in his short story, The Three Gospel Brushes. In addition to writing, producing, and being a dedicated musical historian, Opal shares his talents as a visual artist (you'll have the visit the web site to see those!). Opal's latest effort is co-producing the film How They Got Over, which is commanding new attention in 2021 for its historical portrayal about the rise of shout gospel.
Opal Louis Nations was born in Brighton, England. During the mid-sixties he worked as lead vocalist in London clubs with the late Alexis Korner’s Band and later his own group, The Frays. He helped popularize American soul-based R & B and gospel music in Great Britain.
It was through his efforts that black American gospel artists visited England to perform in various major cities. He also became part of one of England’s first integrated gospel groups, The Ram John Holder Group. With The Frays and later as a soloist, he recorded for Decca Records in London.
In 1968, he turned his back on singing and began a career as an experimental fiction writer of sometimes strange, sometimes humorous works that have appeared in over 600 small press magazines worldwide.
Opal launched a literary magazine, Strange Faeces, which featured experimental poetry, fiction and art by fresh young poets and writers and was published by Opal from 1970-1981. Opal’s fiction has won him The Perpetua and Pushcart Prizes and some of his sound-poems have been included in the T.V. series “Man and His Music,” hosted by Yehudi Menuhin.
Opal moved to San Francisco, California in 1973 and to Oakland, CA in 1981 after living in Canada and on the East Coast. He was a host of R&B / Gospel shows for KPFA Radio as well as the world music program, “Harmonia Mundi.” Opal is an avid collector of historical music and memorabilia. His vast record collection includes R&B, gospel, soul, rock & pop, world music and rockabilly music. He’s also an incredible artist!