King Hannibal – The Truth Shall Make You Free

It’s been a long time coming bringing you something from today’s artist here on Gazfunk so I’m finally glad to be able to showcase a true legend.

King Hannibal (also known as The Mighty Hannibal) was born James Timothy Shaw in Atlanta, Georgia in 1939. He started his singing career as a teenager and joined his first group, The Overalls in 1954. He only lasted a short time in the group however, before relocating to L.A. whereby he embarked upon a solo career during which time he worked alongside the legendary Johnny Otis.

A short time later Hannibal signed to King records, but that relationship was ended when he admitted to working as a pimp whilst living in L.A. After the split, he returned to Atlanta where he recorded his most well-known hit – Hymn No 5. This song spoke about the Vietnam War and was influenced by news reports of troops returning from Vietnam with opium addiction.

Unfortunately the success of the track contributed to his own addiction to heroin and that’s where this week’s selection comes in. The song itself was written with personal experience and was offered as a warning to others about the dangers of drugs and the merits of Jesus.

I think this track shows that Hannibal rightly deserves to be held alongside the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder et al for his ability to deliver social & political commentary in such a funky way. Maybe one day someone will produce a film detailing the life & times of this unique artist.

Leave a Reply