On March 9, second Saturday, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Connie “Ms. Connie B.” Badgett Steadman, the last remaining of Caswell County’s internationally acclaimed African American gospel acapella group singers The Badgett Sisters, unveils her latest album at the age of 79 for a signing and reception at Caswell Senior Center.
Copies of her CD, entitled “The Path That Leads Home” will be sold for $15 and includes a 24-page booklet describing her story, testimony, and background information on each track, 16 in all.
In addition to songs, Steadman recites poetry and tells folktales.
Steadman is perhaps best known for her work from 1978 to 1991 with her two sisters Celester “Celes” Badgett Sellars and Cleo Badgett Graves as “The Badgett Sisters” gospel trio.
According to Steadman, the sisters sang all their lives and were apart of a musical family of four brothers and four sisters, orchestrated by their prodigy father Cortelyou Odell Badgett Sr., who started each of the siblings singing a cappella at the age of 5.
“My mom was the storyteller in the family and my dad was the singer. As time went on, we always incorporated both a story and a song into our performances. Celester was the storyteller, but since her passing, I’ve incorporated the whole thing. I’ll continue the tradition on my own with the same storytelling format,” she said.
The entire album is acapella, or by voice only without accompanying instrumental music. Several tracks have Steadman overlaying her own voice, a style used by her father. All the voices are hers except one voice on Track 15.
“My son, Marcello Steadman leads in one of his favorite songs, Jacob’s Ladder (We Are Climbing Jacobs Ladder),” said Steadman.
The two originally intended to sing together, but Marcello passed before she could record. Celes and Steadman sang at his funeral.
When searching for the original recording of Marcello, Steadman said she found an envelope with a never-before recorded song that she had written enough time ago that she couldn’t remember when. She said she read it over and knew she had found the album’s title song.
“I guess it was meant for me to do it, because I put it away and the Lord led me back to it and it all came together,” she said.
Steadman said she encourages listeners to first read the booklet to get behind the history, context, and significance of each track.
The album is produced on the label of Three Sisters Records with efforts by Glenn Hinson, a UNC Chapel Hill folklore professor, who was instrumental in bringing the Badgett trio to fame in the late 70s.
“It was my daddy’s vision that we all sing acapella. He would say people would stop singing acapella and it would become unique and demanded. It became a tradition. It’s what we do. It’s what I do.,” said Steadman.
Celes Badgett Sellars passed in October, 2018.
Cleo Badgett Graves passed in December, 1991.
Steadman may be found on Facebook as “Ms. Connie B.”
Caswell Senior Center is located on 619 Firetower Rd.
For more information, call 336-694-6947.