Something Within: Remembering Lucie E. Campbell

We learned of Lucie Campbell after Brad dreamed her song, “Heavenly Sunshine.”  She was one of the most accomplished composers of gospel music in the African American church, as well as an activist and educator. In 1916 Campbell became the music director of the National Baptist Convention.

Something Within

In 1919 Campbell made her compositional mark at the NBC with her now classic song, “Something Within,” historically recognized as the first gospel hymn published by an African American woman. The story goes that Campbell overheard a group of people on Beale Street provoke a blind guitar evangelist, Connie Rosemond, to “get down in the alley” and play “St. Louis Blues,” to which he replied that “something within” kept him from doing so.

Preachers and teachers would make their appeal,
Fighting as soldiers on great battlefields;
When to their pleadings my poor heart did yield,
All I can say, there is something within.

Something within me that holdeth the reins,
Something within me that banishes pain;
Something within me I cannot explain,
All that I know there is something within.

Have you that something, that burning desire?
Have you that something, that never doth tire?
Oh, if you have it – that Heavenly Fire!
Then let the world know there is something within. [Refrain]

I met God one morn’, my soul feeling bad,
Heart heavy laden with a bowed down head.
He lifted my burden, made me so glad,
All that I know there is something within.

You can read more about Lucie Campbell on the Memphis Music Hall of Fame website. Unfortunately, they only include a clip of a secularized version of Something Within sung by Keb’ Mo’ in which the lyrics in his full version have been altered to hardly resemble Campbell’s words at all. So far these versions below – one sung by Marion Willams and the other by Albertina Walker – are our favorites.


(Photo of Lucie Cambpell via the Memphis Music Hall of Fame Website, courtesy of the Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis, Tennessee).

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