This week’s article features one of, if not the best, Southern Gospel Music song-writer of all time. His name is Mosie Lister. Mosie was born September 8, 1921, in Cochran, Georgia. He learned to read music almost as soon as he learned to read. At the age of 12 he begin taking violin lessons and this helped Mosie develop his ear for music. As a teenager he began to hear songs in his mind and also begin to put these ideas on paper. After high school he attempted to get into the country music field and shifted his violin lessons to country fiddle and guitar. He soon became a top-ranked fiddle player winning almost every contest he entered.
At age 17 Mosie became a Christian and his desire for a career in country music began to shift to creating gospel music. Lister said, “I realized that God had a plan for my life that involved writing gospel music. Mosie attended the Vaughn School of Music in Tennessee and studied with some of the best songwriters of that day. In 1941 Mosie joined the Sunny South Quartet and moved to Tampa, Florida. It was during this time he met and sang with Jim “Chief” Wetherington who went on to sing bass with the legendary Statesmen Quartet. From the Sunny South Quartet, Mosie moved to The Melody Masters, a group that he and Chief Wetherington formed. This group was on the cutting edge of trying new things and this allowed Mosie to develop his talents as a songwriter. In 1946 Hovie Lister and Mosie Lister met in Atlanta and soon thereafter formed what would become, in my opinion, the best known quartet of all time, The Statesmen Quartet. Mosie soon learned that being on the road all the time was not for him so he stepped out of his singing duties but continued to write and compose for the Statesmen. Jake Hess replaced him. Many of Mosie’s songs were written for the Statesmen. Songs such as “Goodby, World, Goodby,” “Happy Rhythm,” “Nothing Can Compare” and the list goes on.
As the Statesmen gained popularity and began to sing a lot of dates with The Blackwood Brothers a young man named Elvis Presley became interested in gospel music and Mosie’s songs. Later Elvis would record three of Mosie’s songs and one would be the title song of Elvis’ first gospel album. The song was “His Hand In Mine,” and this album won Elvis a Grammy, the only Grammy he would ever win.
Mosie started his own publishing company and in 1955 wrote “How Long Has It Been” which was recorded by George Beverly Shea. This was the first of Mosie’s songs to be recorded by a major, nationally known artist. Through this recording doors were open so that Mosie could go to the next level with his songwriting and publishing. Although Mosie is retirement age he still continues to write and put together choral projects. One of his latest songs is a reminder of how the Christian journey is always good. In 1952 Mosie wrote “I’m Feeling Fine” and in the last few years he has written, for the Booth Brothers, a follow-up song, “I’m Still Feeling Fine.” My favorite song is “Then I Met The Master” and I hope that you have. If not, what better time than this Christmas season to do so. My wish for you is that you have a Merry Christmas.
I can be contacted at (864) 979-9626 or (864) 895-1287.