A native of Arkansas and longtime resident of Michigan, Al Green first made his name as one of history’s greatest soul singers with hits like “Let’s Stay Together,” “Take Me to the River,” and “Love and Happiness.” Following a religious conversion in 1979, he dedicated his considerable talents to God and founded the Church of the Full Gospel Tabernacle (787 Hale Rd., 901/396-9192, www.algreenmusic.com ) in Memphis , where his Sunday sermons dripped with soulful gospel.
For almost 16 years, the Reverend Al Green left secular music alone. He dedicated himself to God’s music. But in 2005 Green released the first of three new secular albums on Blue Note Records. He’s touring again too, in Europe and the United States.
According to his official biography, Rev. Green faced some criticism when he returned to the secular scene. “I’ve got people in the church saying, ‘That’s a secular song,’ and I’m saying, ‘Yeah, but you’ve got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to be anything other than spiritual. You’ve got to live those days, too!’” Rev. Green says he has not neglected his duty to God. “The music is the message, the message is the music. So that’s my little ministry that the Big Man upstairs gave to me—a little ministry called love and happiness.”
Despite his rebirth as a secular soul performer, Al Green, now a bishop, still makes time for his church. He preaches regularly, but not every Sunday, and continues to sing the praises of God. The Sunday service at the Church of the Full Gospel Tabernacle begins at 11:30 a.m. Visitors are welcome, and you can come—within reason—as you are.
Please show some respect, though, by being quiet when that’s called for and throwing a few bucks in the offering plate when it comes around. And don’t forget that the church is a place of worship and not a tourist attraction. If you’re not in town on Sunday, you can catch the weekly choir rehearsal on Thursday at 7 p.m.