Jim Roberts & Norma Zimmer – “Whispering Hope”

So, this is actually the second time I’ve played this album, the first time being back around March and at the time, as I finished writing about it my computer crashed and I lost the write-up. So, here I go again with my second playthrough of Jim Roberts & Norma Zimmer’s “Whispering Hope” conducted by Kurt Kaiser on the Word Record label.

The album opens with the title track “Whispering Hope” and you know, I didn’t really enjoy this the first time I listened to it, the orchestration is good, and both of them do have good voices, they’re not awful, but I feel these aren’t really my type of Gospel songs. Next up, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” and the orchestration is good, kind of has that 50’s Disney vibe to it, I’m not big on soprano vocalists when not accompanied in a group, so not so big on Norma unfortunately. “Like a Lamb Who Needs a Shepherd” follows next, and I do enjoy Jim’s vocals, he kind of has that sort of Merrill Womach sound to him. Now, Merrill is a vocalist I can really get into. The song is a good one though, so far it’s the most appealing. “Lead, Kindly Light” comes next, and it’s just too slow for me, and you know I feel like that is probably because they’re singing hymns, and not so much traditional southern gospel which I am so fond of. Next up, “Abide With Me” and you know, I can’t help finding myself dozing off a bit as I listen, which is good and bad, good because hey, it’s relaxing enough to almost put me to sleep, but bad because it’s putting me to sleep. I’m hoping for more of just Jim soon. “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” ends the A-Side, and you know, I’ll take this time to do a little coverage of Norma’s career, she was best remembered for her 22 years on the Lawrence Welk show as his champagne girl, she had a small singing part in a Bing Crosby movie, she sang soprano for the Norman Luboff Choir (I wonder if she’s on the album I have?), she was also in several other choirs, and sung in a quarter called ‘The Girlfriends‘ who appeared on albums by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Perry Como as well as backing vocals on Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas“, she also sang with the Billy Graham Crusade and was a soloist at the White House during the Nixon administration, and she passed away in 2011 at age 87. Very talented and well travelled woman.

The B-Side opens with “Church in the Wildwood” and once more, we get some good orchestration by Kurt Kaiser’s orchestra, and back to the soprano vocals. It’s a decent opening. I do wish Jim would do a recitation though. Speaking of Jim Roberts, he served in WWII, and was hired as a soloist on the Lawrence Welk show in 1954. By the 1970’s to the early 90’s, he continued to sing and tour until passing away in 1999. “Rock of Ages” comes next, and I feel like this song could be done with much more oomph but alas, we don’t get our oomph. “Precious Memories” comes next, and I believe Jim Nabors did this song too, and I wonder how his version fares to this one. This one just isn’t my thing. “I Need Thee Every Hour” comes next, and I feel like this album is mostly Norma, and Jim is just there to accompany. “Goin’ Home” comes next, and I do really enjoy Jim’s vocals, he does have a nice voice. The song itself is slow, and I’ll say it again, not my thing. The album closes with “When I Come to the End of a Perfect Day” and honestly, a fitting closing track, title wise. The song is still slow, and not my thing.

Catalog Number:

Orchestra Conducted by Kurt Kaiser

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