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Rejoice Before Him By Brett Jensen

Today marks an anniversary overlooked on the calendars of many music writers and industry-watchers. On Sunday, March 15th, 1970, “Rejoice Before Him” was released by the then-upstart “Humility Records”. It featured the Cameron family, a spritely family of five from just outside Indianapolis. While never a national phenomenon, the Cameron family went on to sell over 750,000 copes of their debut album, almost entirely spread by word of mouth. (unknown to most, Humility Records considered advertising to be counter to their beliefs, and would only promote their musicians by loudly reciting the Lord’s Prayer while prostrate)
As word spread of the family, copies flew off the shelves of Christian booksellers. Putting the records on in the hi-fi systems in their dens, listeners realized that the whole album was a recounting of the story of how the album itself came to be. The story touched all listeners so deeply, that word of the album spread quickly throughout church pot-lucks, and sellers found it impossible to keep the record in stock.
Thad Cameron was the patron of the family. Before his family days, he was an angry drunk who delighted in adopting puppies “So that I’d not be without a thing to kick.” He used to tell his roommates at the YMCA that he was “going out for a spell to make sure Jim doesn’t get into trouble.” Everyone knew that Jim was Jim Beam and that Thad fully planned on them both getting into trouble.
All that changed when he met Eustace Franks, a brunette who’d look like Rodney Dangerfield’s younger sister if not for her Jane Jetson brunette bob. Life before Thad wasn’t easy for Eustace either, though. Before their marital bliss, she faced a hard road to Indianapolis.
Eustace had lived a rough life, born in hard-scrabble San Jose. Her mother was an epileptic Beatnik, constantly shunned for her inability to snap her fingers at the right time. Kicked out of the enclave, her mother took 4 month-old Eustace and hitched a ride in a long-haul ice cream truck looking for Jesus in the Midwest.
She found Satan, but after a quick check of her map, and asking a burly gas station attendant for directions, was re-directed to Jesus. “That was a close one.” she recalled saying.
Fast forward 18 years to 1949. Thad and Eustace met one Saturday evening in south Indianapolis in the thick of one of Thad and Jim Beam’s rampages. Thad was pounding his fist on the door of the local dog pound, angrily demanding that his right foot be allowed to “adopt every g’damn dog you’ve got!”
Overtaken with a fit of animal-loving rage, Eustace beat every ounce of shit out of Thad. They married within weeks.
When kids started arriving, Thad and Eustace Cameron became the quintessential church family. Eustace taught Sunday school, and Thad became the choir leader at First United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. Thad spent his days working in an Auth-Florence mailbox factory and his nights writing music to introduce to his congregation.
Thad realized his purpose when the congregation fell in love with his hymns. His spirituals and hymns became so popular that syndicated publishers purchased a few of his finest works for publication in some of the larger hymnal offerings.
In an effort to spread the music he was writing, the publisher suggested that Thad find a local record company willing to produce an album of his songs. Little did anyone know how big a deal this suggestion would become. Thad insisted that his loving and faithful wife Eustace be included in production of the album.
In early December, 1969, the Cameron family… Thad, Eustace, Emily, Rose, and Penelope got together at the Humility Records studio (in those days, just a rented apartment building) and started work on their gold-selling album, “Rejoice Before Him.”
Little did anyone realize Eustace inherited her mother’s fervent hatred of rhythm retained from her days as a seizure-ridden Beatnik.
Music historians remember “Rejoice Before Him” as the only album to date without any kind of a time signature. It really is just five nut jobs from the Midwest singing whatever the hell they wanted to for half an hour.
The End.

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