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True to the name, the Capitol City Five has always been based in Raleigh. Similarly, James "Mr. Gospel" Thomas comes by his nickname honestly. The group's co-elder statesman, he was the first person to put black gospel on the radio during the day in Raleigh, with live broadcasts on Sunday mornings from 7:30 until 11 on 570 AM, way back in 1953. The Capitol City Five was, of course, among the groups that got play.
Thomas promoted gospel shows in Raleigh, too. He now has a gospel radio station in Sanford, the city where he's lived for the last 18 years.
And he's been in the record business for more than 60 years. These days, his Soul Shack is just a rehearsal space and not a combination rehearsal space and record shop, but it wasn't long ago that it was the place to haunt if you were after an obscure jazz or rhythm & blues record or, as you'd expect, that hard-to-find gospel record. Although the Soul Shack is officially closed down, Thomas still gets phone calls. "I guess I'm one of the only places where some singers and some
church choirs, when they're trying to find something, can look," he says. "They'll call me, and I'll order it for them if I don't have it."