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By 1967, East St. Louis, Illinois—once dubbed an "All American” city by the US Chamber of Commerce—had become St Louis, Missouri’s evil twin. Unemployment, drug addiction and vicious gang activity put a dark and heavy lid on a bi-state area that once cooked-up world-changing talent—we're talking Chuck Berry, Josephine Baker, Miles Davis. But both cities kept spawning heroes, Allen Merry among them. Already a living legend for his early work with Ray Charles and Ike Turner, Merry channeled his talent into teaching, forming the Young Disciples through the South End Community Center, aiming to keep the kids off the streets, out of gangs, and instead inside the studio, frow which young men and women spiraling downward could ride the spiral groove upward on Merry’s YoDi, Gateway and Merry labels. Every sweat-drenched recording included here emerged from Merry's grass-roots organization that changed, if not saved, lives. Former East St Louis Mayor Carl Officer had a slogan he liked to pitch: “ There’s A City Under Here.” Eccentric Soul: The Young Disciples unearths those very streets and safe havens.

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