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Chants, The

All the Merseybeat performers who made the charts were white, but Liverpool was (and still is) a cosmopolitan city and there were several black performers. The main showman was Derry Wilkie, who often worked with white musicians while the black groups included The Sobells, The Conquests, The Poppies and The Chants.

The Chants were a male vocal harmony act backed by several Merseyside groups (including The Beatles) and they made quite an impact as the first local group to sing songs by black acts like The Drifters and The Coasters in the way they were meant to be sung.

Brian Epstein, initially reluctant for his boys to back anyone, briefly managed The Chants in 1963 but they felt his heart wasn’t in it and left him before contracts were signed.

Quite what persuaded The Chants – and their record company, Pye – that the time was right for a Doo-Wop revival is a mystery, but their fourth single in a row, Sweet Was The Wine, offered a delightful throwback to the previous decade.

The Chants were championed by Merseyside MP, Bessie Braddock after their first single, I Don’t Care, came to her attention. Her interest was primarily because they were a black group from a depressed area of Liverpool.

The band broke up, but Joey and Edmund Ankrah later had success on ITV’s New Faces as part of Ashanti. Eddie Amoo went on to have chart success as part of the Liverpool soul group, The Real Thing.

Nat Smeda
Lead vocals
Joey Ankrah
Eddie Ankrah
Alan Hardin
Eddie Amoo