Year of 2006
1970s’ southern gospel favorites’ The Hinsons started in 1967 when the three brothers, Ronny, Kenny and Larry and sister Yvonne began the group in central California, singing at the church where their father served as minister. In 1971 The Hinsons opened for The Happy Goodman Family, introducing a song “The Lighthouse,” written by Ronny that soon became the Hinson’s signature song. “The Lighthouse” was also recorded by many other artists, including The Happy Goodman Family. The song went on to win numerous awards, including being named Song of the Year at the 4th Annual Dove Awards in 1972. Ron and his brothers Kenny and Larry were recognized as some of the top writers in the industry and some of their other well known songs included “He Pilots My Ship,” “Two Winning Hands,” “Touch of the Master’s Strong Hand,” “Mercy Built A Bridge,” and “I’ll Never Be Over the Hill.” The Hinsons stopped performing together after more than three decades in May 1988 to pursue individual careers and ministries. The original members of The Hinsons performed together one last time in 1995 at the funeral of Kenny, who died of cancer at age 41.
Benson III, John T.
John T. Benson III’s contributions to the music business began in the 1970s, but his family’s legacy preceded him and in many ways predicted his own destiny. Benson’s grandfather, John T., founded The Benson Publishing Company in 1902 to primarily publish hymnbooks. John T. Jr. followed as president of the publishing company after the senior Benson’s death in 1931 and with another son, Bob, founded the Heartwarming Label in 1960 as a record company that would help to popularize the Benson Company’s existing copyrights and to develop new songwriters. Benson III, after a successful career in the family’s other business, a commercial printing company, joined his brother Bob in 1969, first as vice president and later as president, and with his brother, served the company during its most flourishing years when the Jesus Movement brought new attention and success to contemporary Christian music. Benson III also played a key role in leading the gospel music industry as a member of the GMA Board of Directors, serving as treasure and a two-year term as president of the GMA in 1978-80, during which time; the GMA established its now annual GMA Music Week convention. Benson has been married to his wife Jane for nearly 60 years and has four children, six grandchildren and one great grandchild. They still live in the Nashville area.
For nearly 50 years, inspirational artist Doug Oldham has blessed the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people, both in his concerts and through television. He has ministered in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and throughout the world. Oldham first began singing in the early 1960s at tent revival meetings where his father was the evangelist. He soon met a high school teacher who was also a novice songwriter and pianist named Bill Gaither. They began traveling together on the weekends with Oldham singing the new songs written by Gaither. Among the thousands of songs that Oldham has sung, he was the very first person to sing and record Gaither’s infamous “He Touched Me,” a song which was recorded famously by fellow GMA Gospel Music Hall of Famer Elvis Presley. The Dove Award-winning artist has recorded more than 65 albums and performed for national and international dignitaries including former presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, as well as Prince Phillip and the Queen of England. Oldham has written two books, one with his wife of 54 years, Laura Lee. They have three daughters, five grandchildren and one great grandchild. Oldham and his family live in Lynchburg, Va.
World-class composer, pianist and arranger, Richard Smallwood has clearly and solidly changed the face of black gospel music. His impeccable blend of classical movements with traditional gospel has earned Smallwood many honors in his 20-plus year career including multiple Dove Awards, Stellar Awards and a GRAMMY. Smallwood’s first album, The Richard Smallwood Singers, debuted in 1982 and spent 87 weeks on Billboard‘s Gospel chart. He recorded eight albums with the Richard Smallwood Singers and appeared on many other artists’ projects. His song, “I, Love the Lord” crossed onto the big screen when Whitney Houston sang it in the film, “The Preacher’s Wife” and his music has also been recorded by artists such as Destiny’s Child, Yolanda Adams and Karen Clark-Sheard. Smallwood, with his current group Vision, an ensemble of multitalented ministers of music, has recorded four projects for Verity records, Adoration, Rejoice, Healing…Live in Detroit, and Persuaded – Live in DC. Richard Smallwood has been honored by the Smithsonian Institution as a “gospel innovator and songwriter.” His hometown, Washington, D.C., has heralded Smallwood on two separate occasions with “Richard Smallwood Day,” and distinguished him with the Mayoral Art Award for “precision and excellence in artistic discipline.”
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