Year of 1999
The Gaither Trio
As a boy, Bill Gaither dreamed of a career as a gospel singer, running home after school to listen to gospel radio programs. So it was only natural for him to form, along with siblings Danny and Mary Ann, the Bill Gaither Trio in 1956, singing gospel standards memorized from those radio broadcasts and performed around the family piano. The Trio recorded its first custom album in 1958. After graduating from college, Bill met and married a teaching colleague, Gloria Sickal, who eventually became his songwriting partner and joined Bill and Danny in the Trio. Their new upbeat gospel style found many willing listeners. After signing with a major label in 1964, the group went on to build a discography of 33 albums. Over the years the Trio’s line-up has changed to include Gary McSpadden and Michael English, but one thing always remained the same â€“ the Gaithers’ talent for crafting heartfelt songs of praise. It was through the Trio that the world first heard songs such as “Because He Lives,” “He Touched Me,” “Something Beautiful” and “Let’s Just Praise The Lord.” Today audiences can still experience the magic of the Trio when it is occasionally revived on stage with one of the members of the Gaither Vocal Band joining Bill and Gloria in a classic song. Bill, Gloria and the Trio have won two Grammys and 17 Dove Awards, but equally thrilling is hearing a congregation whether large or small â€“ sing one of their more than 500 songs.
Second Chapter of Acts
2nd Chapter of Acts was one of the first groups to pioneer the ’70s sound known as “Jesus Music”or gospel rock. It was the sound that bridged the gap between pop and sacred music. Formed in the early ’70s, this trio, comprised of siblings Annie Herring, Matthew Ward, and Nelly Griesen, brought a new level of complexity and sophistication to contemporary 2nd Chapter of Acts was one of the first groups to pioneer the ’70s sound known as “Jesus Music”or gospel rock. It was the sound that bridged the gap between pop and sacred music. Formed in the early ’70s, this trio, comprised of siblings Annie Herring, Matthew Ward, and Nelly Griesen, brought a new level of complexity and sophistication to contemporary inspirational music with their intricate three-part harmonies and neo-classical approach. Best known for 1974′s “Easter Song,”the group officially dibanded in 1988, but Annie, Matthew and Nelly continue to be active as solo artists in the Christian music field.
The Fairfield Four
There have been many great gospel singing groups to come out of the south throughout the last 100 years, but probably none has been so influential as the Fairfield Four. In 1942, national recognition came to the young gospel group when they won a promotional contest which offered an appearance on Nashville’s WLAC as first prize. The broadcast proved so popular that for 10 years, five days a week, the group remained on the air sending their brand of jubilee singing into virtually every home in the United States. Even blues master, B.B. King, has credited the Fairfield Four with helping to develop his singing style through listening to these syndicated programs. The early recording career for the Fairfield Four was highly varied and prolific one. In a period of roughly fifteen years the group released more than 100 titles on such classic labels as Bullet, Delta, Dot, Champion and Old Town. Today time has been good to the Fairfield Four. They have been honored countless times for their contribution to the heritage of jubilee gospel singing. Carnegie Hall has tipped its hat twice to the group and has had the group perform as apart of their centennial celebration. They have also appeared at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife and The Lincoln Center’s Folk & Heritage Festival. In October of 1989, the group was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment of the Arts in a special presentation in Washington, D.C. In 1992, Warner Bros. Records released their first compact disc recording Standing in the Safety Zone, which was nominated for a Grammy. Also, in the spring of 1992, a major tour developed for the group, opening many dates for Lyle Lovett. The group is continuing to perform throughout the United States and Europe.
The Cathedral Quartet
In 1964, when Southern Gospel was just beginning to emerge as a popular art form, evangelist Rex Humbard brought together the creative foundations for a group that would come to embody all the spirit and verve of Southern Gospel. Humbard’s thriving television outreach, the Cathedral of Tomorrow, broadcast weekly from Akron, Ohio and featured a collection of young singers known, fittingly, as the Cathedral Trio. The mainstay of the threesome’s sound was the distinctive lead vocals of Glen Payne. When Humbard decided to add a fourth member to the Cathedrals trio, he recruited another promising young singer, bassist George Younce. As part of Rex Humbard’s thriving outreach, the Cathedral Quartet performed regularly, both live and over nation-wide televised services, for six years. The quartet became a smoothly functioning musical unit, anchored by the trademark interplay of Younce’s powerful bass and Payne’s instantly recognizable lead lines. As the group’s spokesman and master of ceremonies, Younce’s on-stage personality, bolstered by often wryly humorous exchanges with Payne, became one of the most popular and emulated in gospel music. In 1969, the cathedral Quartet took the next step in their development, branching out into their own full-time concert ministry. It was a career that took a sudden and unexpected setback in 1979 when, after receiving four Dove Awards, all the members of the group, with the exception of Payne and Younce, decided to leave to pursue other musical directions. The cathedral Quartet sounds lives on today with the distinctive styles of tenor Kurt Young, baritone Mark Trammell and pianist Roger Bennett. The fraternity of these five men proved to be a winning combination, bringing dozens of number one hits to their credit. “Step Into the Water”, The Master Builder”, “Boundless Love”, “Can He, Could He, Would He”, “Somebody Touched me”, “Champion of Love” and “I Can See The Hand” are just a few of the titles The Cathedrals have brought to the top of the charts. Such popularity with gospel music listening fans elected the Cathedrals recipients of several People’s Choice Awards offered by the industry’s Gospel Music News and Singing News magazines.
The Mighty Clouds Of Joy
In a world where instant legends come and go like flavors of the month, gospel greats, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, have truly earned the right to be called legendary. When African-American artists in the early ’60s were often forced to accept segregated housing and meals served out the back doors of restaurants, The Mighty Clouds of Joy were there. When Dr. Martin Luther King led the fight for freedom for all Americans, The Mighty Clouds of Joy raised their voices in support of his crusade. And when young kids took the music of the black church, renaming it rock’n'roll and acting like it was their own, the Clouds were there too, still lifting up the name of the Lord. Overflowing with energy on stage, The Mighty Clouds of Joy were one of the first quartets to incorporate movement and choreography into their act. With matching, brightly color-coordinated outfits, the Clouds coupled a new level of showmanship with their ministry, even becoming known as “The Temptations of Gospel.” The Clouds were also the first to add bass, drums, and keyboards to the traditional quartet accompaniment of solo electric guitar. Over the years, they have won three Grammy awards and opened club and arena dates with Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the Rolling Stones and Paul Simon. The “funkified” Gospel they had pioneered gradually became accepted as a standard part of Gospel music. After 40 years singing the Gospel, The Mighty Clouds of Joy still have the power to excite and inspire their ever-increasing following.
The Florida Boys
Members Les Beasley, Glen Allred, Derrell Stewart, Buddy Liles, Rick Busby and Tim Lovelace are members of a group whose roots go back to 1947. That’s when J.G. Whitfield began the Gospel Melody Quartet. Glen Allred joined in the fall of 1952 and Les Beasley came aboard in the spring of 1953. The name of the group was added two years later and Buddy Liles came with the group in 1972. Rick Busby and Tim Lovelace are two latest additions. Along the way, The Florida Boys have established some landmarks. They were the first Gospel Group to have a nationally syndicated television program and their Gospel Singing Jubilee eventually won a number of Dove Awards for the best gospel singing program. They were the first southern gospel group signed by Canaan Records when Word Records began that division in 1964. It could be easily argued that The Florida Boys have as distinctive a history as any group in southern gospel music. They are among a select few who have stayed around for 40 years. But people have a way of turning their back on history and asking, “What about now?” It’s not always so important what you’ve done in the past, but what can you do right now. The Florida Boys deliver the goods 50 weeks of the year at concerts all across the United States. They have been in over a dozen foreign countries, co-host an annual singing, “Way Down on the Suwanee River,” at the Spirit of the Suwanee camp at Live Oak, Florida, co-host a singing cruise each year to the Bahamas, and perform at most of the key events in southern gospel music year after year. Not many groups have done what The Florida Boys have done. They have been pioneers for others in the southern gospel world during the past 40 years. And not many can do what they do today on a consistent basis-please crowds of people with their music, their message and their integrity.
He has said, “I have never wanted to be a preacher,”and yet Billy Graham has preached the gospel to over 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. His crusades continue to set attendance records. His evangelistic association’s weekly Hour of Decision radio program is broadcast by more that 900 stations around the world. He’s written 18 books all of which have become top sellers and been sold in 38 languages around the world. His counsel has been sought by presidents and he’s been ranked 39 times as one of the “Ten Most Admired Men in the World”in the Gallup Poll . He’s received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, and the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor Congress can bestow on a private citizen. Not bad for the son of a North Carolina dairy farmer. But what’s that got to do with Gospel Music? Just ask Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, dc Talk, Jars of Clay or any of the other numerous Christian artists who have had the honor of performing at the Billy Graham Crusade. His organization has “opened it’s platform to our artists over the years,”says current Gospel Music Association President, Frank Breeden, and “as our most respected preacher of the gospel, it is fitting to pay homage to what he has given our artists in his history.”Not to mention what he has given the rest of us.
When George Younce went to see the Harmoneers in 1945, the 15-year-old immediately began to dream of a career in gospel music. Less than a year later he and four friends began performing as the Spiritualaires, singing locally at churches and conventions. George seemed to be well on his way. This young tenor had no idea that he would become one of the most beloved bass singers in gospel music history. Yes, bass singers. When he began singing his voice had not matured into the incredibly deep bass he would become known for. Almost two decades later, Younce was responsible for turning “The Cathedral Trio” into “The Cathedral Quartet”, but only after lending his trademark voice to the Watchmen Quartet, the Weatherfords, the Blue Ridge Quartet and for a few months, to the Florida Boys. He even branched into a solo career. In 1997, his first solo project, I Believe, garnered a Dove Award nomination. It’s no wonder he’s been named “Favorite Southern Gospel Bass” 12 times by The Singing News, was Gospel Music’s Living Legend of the Year in 1988 and a decade later was introduced into the Southern Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame. He even provided the voice for “Bullfrog Younce” in Bill Gaither’s children’s video, Gaither’s Pond something he couldn’t have done nearly as well as a tenor. Although he had to stop officially touring, he did make occasional “special appearances” with son-in-law Ernie’s new quartet Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, and with his friend Bill Gaither and the Homecoming Tour. Younce passed away April 11, 2005.
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