From left: Sheila Stubblefield, Marilyn Monroe, Rhonda Lathon Holmes and Larry H. Jordan. (Photo: Nature Sounds)
Each week, we use this space to nudge readers out of the house and into the nightlife, but let’s be real — it’s cold out there. For those seeking cool local sounds from the warmth of their living room, allow us to recommend “Faith Is the Key,” the long-lost, extra-funky gospel-boogie album by Enlightment.
“The idea was to create a gospel group that could compete with R&B and pop,” says Larry H. Jordan more than three decades after founding the troupe. “I never liked traditional gospel music. I wanted to bring in something more flavorful that the secular radio stations would play.”
So Jordan placed an ad for vocalists in The Washington Post and promptly auditioned his soon-to-be-bandmates, Rhonda Lathon Holmes, Marilyn Monroe and Sheila Stubblefield. Together, the group forged a sparkling sound in the mode of Cheryl Lynn, Patrice Rushen and Evelyn “Champagne” King.
Enlightment released its first and only album in 1984, but because of distribution problems, the music failed to reach the audience Jordan had envisioned. In the years that followed, however, “Faith Is the Key” became a coveted disc for collectors, and after fetching more than $1,000 for a single copy online, the record was finally reissued last year.
Jordan, now senior pastor at the Believers Worship Center in Upper Marlboro, says he’s glad it’s finally being heard. “I hope that people will hear the message in the music,” he says. “It’s good, listenable music, and I think it still can compete with the gospel music of today.”
Listen: Enlightment’s “Faith Is the Key” is available on vinyl, MP3 and most streaming services.