The Masqueraders


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Singing for the audition audience reminded Thomas of playing a massive soul revue in Philadelphia during their late '60s heyday, but that was nothing compared to the audience they reached when their moment was broadcast and posted to YouTube.

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To date, the clip has been viewed over a million times. As Thomas recalls, "My daughter said, 'Dad, I think y'all have gone viral! Even more important, the judges — clearly gobsmacked — loved them. As we go to press, the Masqueraders' second performance for AGT , "Bring It on Home to Me," will be airing on Tuesday's "Judge Cut" episode, and the judges' verdicts will then determine if they go on to perform live in the competition rounds. That will be when fans around the world can vote for them in real time and propel them into the finals.

It's been a long, meandering road to this point. The group left Dallas, their hometown, for Detroit in the mids and auditioned for Motown.

Chapter XXIV: “The Masqueraders” | The Blithedale Romance | Nathaniel Hawthorne | Lit2Go ETC

When Hitsville passed, the Masqueraders headed over to La Beat records, which released several sides of theirs. But Detroit winters were too much for them, and soon they showed up in Memphis with two-dozen songs they had written for themselves. Stopping first at American Sound Studio on a whim, they ended up working there for years. Not only did they release their own material, including their biggest hit, "I Ain't Got to Love Nobody Else," in , they added their harmonious blend to other artists' records. Many years later, when the group was playing Blues City Cafe regularly, singing the usual batch of tourist-friendly covers, they were surprised to meet British fans who said their early work, and the '70s material they cut for Willie Mitchell and Isaac Hayes, was popular in the "Northern Soul" scene.

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This ultimately led to three trips to Europe in recent years, for which they had to scramble to re-learn all their own songs. But such appreciation in the U. Thomas is convinced that this most recent success grew from their initial generosity in helping that gospel producer for free: God has seen fit to reward them. Even if they go no further, the notoriety thus far could lead to a lot more work. By-and-by, I came to my hermitage, in the heart of the white-pine tree, and clambering up into it, sat down to rest.

The grapes, which I had watched throughout the summer, now dangled around me in abundant clusters of the deepest purple, deliciously sweet to the taste, and though wild, yet free from that ungentle flavor which distinguishes nearly all our native and uncultivated grapes. Methought a wine might be pressed out of them, possessing a passionate zest, and endowed with a new kind of intoxicating quality, attended with such bacchanalian ecstasies as the tamer grapes of Madeira, France, and the Rhine, are inadequate to produce.

And I longed to quaff a great goblet of it, at that moment! While devouring the grapes, I looked on all sides out of the peep-holes of my hermitage, and saw the farm-house, the fields, and almost every part of our domain, but not a single human figure in the landscape.

The barn-door was ajar, and swinging in the breeze. The big, old dog—he was a relic of the former dynasty of the farm—that hardly ever stirred out of the yard, was nowhere to be seen. What, then, had become of all the fraternity and sisterhood? Curious to ascertain this point, I let myself down out of the tree, and going to the edge of the wood, was glad to perceive our herd of cows, chewing the cud, or grazing, not far off. I fancied, by their manner, that two or three of them recognized me, as, indeed, they ought, for I had milked them, and been their chamberlain, times without number; but, after staring me in the face, a little while, they phlegmatically began grazing and chewing their cuds again.

Then I grew foolishly angry at so cold a reception, and flung some rotten fragments of an old stump at these unsentimental cows. Skirting farther round the pasture, I heard voices and much laughter proceeding from the interior of the wood. Voices, male and feminine; laughter, not only of fresh young throats, but the bass of grown people, as if solemn organ-pipes should pour out airs of merriment. Not a voice spoke, but I knew it better than my own; not a laugh, but its cadences were familiar.

The wood, in this portion of it, seemed as full of jollity as if Comus and his crew were holding their revels, in one of its usually lonesome glades. Stealing onward as far as I durst, without hazard of discovery, I saw a concourse of strange figures beneath the overshadowing branches; they appeared, and vanished, and came again, confusedly, with the streaks of sunlight glimmering down upon them.

Watch '60s Soul Singers The Masqueraders Launch Their Comeback on 'America's Got Talent'

Among them was an Indian chief, with blanket, feathers and war-paint, and uplifted tomahawk; and near him, looking fit to be his woodland-bride, the goddess Diana, with the crescent on her head, and attended by our big, lazy dog, in lack of any fleeter hound. Drawing an arrow from her quiver, she let it fly, at a venture, and hit the very tree behind which I happened to be lurking. Another group consisted of a Bavarian broom-girl, a negro of the Jim Crow order, one or two foresters of the middle-ages, a Kentucky woodsman in his trimmed hunting-shirt and deerskin leggings, and a Shaker elder, quaint, demure, broad-brimmed, and square-skirted.

Shepherds of Arcadia, and allegoric figures from the Faerie Queen, were oddly mixed up with these. Arm in arm, or otherwise huddled together, in strange discrepancy, stood grim Puritans, gay Cavaliers, and Revolutionary officers, with three-cornered cocked-hats, and queues longer than their swords. A bright-complexioned, dark-haired, vivacious little gipsy, with a red shawl over her head, went from one group to another, telling fortunes by palmistry; and Moll Pitcher, the renowned old witch of Lynn, broomstick in hand, showed herself prominently in the midst, as if announcing all these apparitions to be the offspring of her necromantic art.

But Silas Foster, who leaned against a tree near by, in his customary blue frock, and smoking a short pipe, did more to disenchant the scene, with his look of shrewd, acrid, Yankee observation, than twenty witches and necromancers could have done, in the way of rendering it weird and fantastic.

Then, for lack of breath, ensued a silence; at the deepest point of which, tickled by the oddity of surprising my grave associates in this masquerading trim, I could not possibly refrain from a burst of laughter, on my own separate account. Thus put on the right track, they all recognized the voice at once, and set up a simultaneous shout. Miles Coverdale, where are you? Queen Zenobia! Here is one of your vassals lurking in the wood. Command him to approach, and pay his duty! The whole fantastic rabble forthwith streamed off in pursuit of me, so that I was like a mad poet hunted by chimaeras.

Having fairly the start of them, however, I succeeded in making my escape, and soon left their merriment and riot at a good distance in the rear. Its fainter tones assumed a kind of mournfulness, and were finally lost in the hush and solemnity of the wood. When Hitsville passed, the Masqueraders headed over to La Beat records, which released several sides of theirs.

But Detroit winters were too much for them, and soon they showed up in Memphis with two-dozen songs they had written for themselves. Stopping first at American Sound Studio on a whim, they ended up working there for years. Not only did they release their own material, including their biggest hit, "I Ain't Got to Love Nobody Else," in , they added their harmonious blend to other artists' records.

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Many years later, when the group was playing Blues City Cafe regularly, singing the usual batch of tourist-friendly covers, they were surprised to meet British fans who said their early work, and the '70s material they cut for Willie Mitchell and Isaac Hayes, was popular in the "Northern Soul" scene. This ultimately led to three trips to Europe in recent years, for which they had to scramble to re-learn all their own songs.

But such appreciation in the U. Thomas is convinced that this most recent success grew from their initial generosity in helping that gospel producer for free: God has seen fit to reward them. Even if they go no further, the notoriety thus far could lead to a lot more work. That's fine with Thomas. He's looking to heaven when he says, "Lord, it's up to you. Whoever you want to win gonna win.

I won't be mad. I'll just be happy that we got as far as we got. The Masqueraders' performance was strong enough for the judges to send them to the Quarterfinals instead of Carlos De Antonis and Darcy Callus. Keep tabs on their progress in upcoming episodes of America's Got Talent , when you can call in and register your vote for our hometown favorites. Always independent, always free never a paywall , the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.


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