Naomi Shelton has been singing professionally for over five decades, beginning in the midst of the early-’60s soul-music explosion, where she was inspired by the likes of Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding, and later expanding into gospel. Since 1999, she’s been fronting the long-running vocal group the Queens, which has since been rechristened Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens.
Backed by a band that includes former side men for Pickett, Sam Cooke, and James Brown, Shelton and the Queens have just recorded their sophomore record for leading soul revivalists Daptone Records. Cold World walks the blurry line between gospel and classic R&B that artists and ideas have been crossing back and forth for ages, with a rich, warm-blooded sound that comes in part from having tracked the songs live to analog tape. Shelton’s voice remains an impressive instrument, and the pleading vocal part on the album’s lead single, “Sinner,” is an ideal setting to show it off.