Theola Kilgore - This Is My Prayer 
A former gospel singer from Shreveport, Louisiana, Theola Kilgore made the move into secular recording in the early 1960's, and quickly landed at the tops of the charts with her hit "The Love of My Man", itself based off a gospel song, "The Love of God". Following it up with this track, it's clear that she never strayed far from her spiritual roots as she belts out an immediately arresting vocal that could fill a church, but manages to maintain the deep intimacy of the finest soul music.
The only thing I really remember from the biopic, Ray, is a scene in which Ray Charles is reprimanded for taking the music of the church and debasing it. For some reason, that criticism stuck with me, and I've never been able to outright reject it. At the same time, I think there's something to be said for treating all our secular concerns with the holy reverence that some would reserve for religious concerns.
The history of recorded secular music is a lovingly detailed catalog of the very depths of human emotion, and maybe that's something some would rather run to a higher power to save them from, but I'll never stop appreciating those that showed the world how to look in the mirror with eyes as wide as possible and love ourselves in each and every state to the same degree others would love god.
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