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Keepin' on

Landy Void--The Void Brothers

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Great God almighty! Coming out of Durham's New Shiloh Holiness Church, is something that sounds like Wilson Pickett in a battle to the death with Satan. Has Pickett got religion? Not likely--those sounds are coming from Pastor Landy Void and his gospel group the Void Brothers.

Void started practicing his craft at an early age with older brother Billy, eventually bringing brother Larry and his nephews into the group. Other than a brief venture into rock when he was in the armed service in the '70s, ("I did Al Green covers--did a little James Brown thing when J.B. came out with 'Hot Pants,' ") he's always sung gospel. He's been the pastor of the New Shiloh Holiness Church for the past 15 years, one of three careers he juggles. As well as a bandleader and pastor, Void is a zoning enforcement officer for the City of Durham, a position he took after nine years with the Durham Police Department. "After that, I needed a safer occupation," Void says. "So I switched over to the planning department, which is related to law enforcement work--the enforcement aspect was still there."

Void has a commanding presence in person and onstage. The Pickett-style scream that Void unleashes has unsettled many an act unlucky enough to have to follow him. But there's nothing secular about Void's joyful noises--he's bound to the roots of old-time gospel. "Traditional gospel has an identity. It identifies you with your life in Christ," the pastor says. "We chose to keep it there."

Despite the recent downturn in other musical styles, Void's business is booming. "Gospel has gotten a boost," Void says. "A contributing factor to that was 9/11. A lot of people did a whole lot of soul searching since then, coming together. People have looked at life differently since 9/11."

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