Dedicated Men of Zion

Thanks to Newport Live, we’ve got two pairs of tickets to giveaway to a high-energy show coming to the Newport Congregational Church this Saturday night. To enter for tickets to see Dedicated Men of Zion, e-mail Ken Abrams at by 5PM on Thursday, July 28. Winners will be notified Thursday evening.

Newport Live is presenting the sacred soul of Dedicated Men of Zion, Saturday, July 30 at the Newport Congregational Church, the new home of Newport Live, 73 Pelham Street in Newport at 7:00 PM. General Admission tickets are $35 and available through EventBrite and via Newport Live website.

More on Dedicated Men of Zion:

Sharing bonds of music and blood kinship, the members of the Dedicated Men of Zion bring down a joyfully harmonious version of the gospel in a style so akin to soul music that we refer to it as “sacred soul.”

Harmony is serious business where the Dedicated Men of Zion come from. For their eldest member Anthony “Amp” Daniels, it was so serious that every day his mother would call her children inside, turn off the television, and make them sing in harmony, talk in harmony, do everything in harmony. Singing well together was a virtue that she and her sisters had learned from their own father, and Anthony gave it to his children in return. Older folks in the Black communities of rural North Carolina relied on that singing for everything in a time when both respect and money were especially scarce. “That’s where that seriousness is from,” Amp remembers. “They demand respect. They’re serious about what they do, and they don’t play with God.”

The Dedicated Men of Zion came up out of this singing land of eastern North Carolina, around the city of Greenville and its small neighboring town of Farmville. Each trained in the church and the home, the group’s four vocalists – Anthony Daniels, Antoine Daniels, Dexter Weaver, and Marcus Sugg – share the bond of that upbringing and another more literal bond of kinship (they’re all family now through blood or marriage).

Theirs is a community dense with talent and legendary impact on the origins of gospel, funk, R&B, soul, and jazz; a place where the sounds of Saturday night and Sunday morning couldn’t help but jump their lanes. The group’s own backgrounds tell that story. Anthony Daniels, the eldest of the group, led a career in R&B down in Atlanta, backing up the likes of Bebe Winans, Toni Braxton, and Elton John. Antoine Daniels, the youngest member and son of Anthony, was playing keyboards and organ in church while simultaneously injecting his hip-hop production work with traditional gospel roots.

But the church was always the backbone. Weaver, whose grandmother managed several gospel groups around Greenville, had sung with elder quartet groups for years, running into Anthony Daniels around the gospel circuit. When they both found themselves without a group, Weaver turned to Daniels and said “I don’t know what you’re gonna do but if you do something, I’m on board with you. I want to be with you.”

The group was quickly gaining a following in eastern North Carolina. Through Music Maker, the DMZ connected with the Bible & Tire Recording Co., founded by producer Bruce Watson of Fat Possum Records. Watson had often heard the deep-rooted country gospel coming from African American churches. He wanted to deliver that soulful sound to listeners beyond the church circuits, so Music Maker co-founder Tim Duffy coined another term to describe it: “sacred soul.”

Newport Live welcomes you to Newport Live’s new home at Newport Congregational Church at 73 Pelham (corner of Spring and Pelham) in Newport, Rhode Island. Through a generous grant from The Firestone Foundation, we will be providing a block of tickets to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center of Newport to distribute to members of the MLK community. Open your arms and welcome Dedicated Men of Zion, as they lift our spirits and help us open our doors!

Click here for tickets and further details.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.