Derrell-StewartA few years ago I had the opportunity to talk with several of the Southern Gospel Music legends at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion. This week’s feature is one of the true legends. He is Derrell Stewart, one of the main stays of The Florida Boys before they retired and Charlie Waller began to carry on the group.  Darrell was born in Brunswick, Georgia. Derrell began to play piano at five years of age and continued to take lessons all through school. He stated that his introduction to Southern Gospel Music was through the all-day singings and other church related musical events.

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7Albert-Burmley--GoldieA few weeks ago I wrote about one of the all time great song writers. This week’s feature is about another writer who has penned some of the classic Southern Gospel Music songs. His name is Albert E. Brumley and he spent most of his adult life in the small town of Powell, Missouri.

Although Albert was born in Spiro, Oklahoma, which in 1905 was Indian Territory. From Oklahoma, Albert made his way to Hartford, Arkansas in 1926 looking to enhance his knowledge of music. Mr. Brace Key, who had taught Albert some music, encouraged him to attend the Hartford Musical Institute. This school was managed by E. M. Bartlett. Mr. Bartlett had helped several young folks receive an education and get a start in the music world. Mr. Bartlett, a song writer himself, had written such great songs as “Everybody Will Be Happy Over There” and “I heard My Mother Call My Name.”

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Paul--Ann-DowningThis week’s feature is a flashback to one of the top groups of yesteryear, the Downings. The story of the Downings begins as a classic boy-meets-girl story. Virginia Ann Sanders of Pittsboro, MS, grew up on a cotton farm and had dreams of singing gospel music all over the world. Her family was supportive of those dreams, making sure Ann had the best music teachers and singing schools in the area to attend. Ann listened to a variety of music as a girl, and was a fan of Patti Page and Rosemary Clooney in particular, but since her aspirations were in gospel, it was her interest in Ginger Smith Laxson, soprano and pianist for the Speer Family, that would ultimately pay off for her.

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This week I am featuring one of the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame members and this feature will be a tribute to his life. Harold Lane is his name and he is from Huntington, West Virginia, and he now makes his home in Heaven. Harold was promoted to the Heavenly choir in June of this year.

Like many youngsters in that part of the country, church was a very big part of his life. And it’s certainly not a long stretch to go from church to music, and young Harold fell in love quickly with the music of the church. It didn’t take Lane long to decide that music would be his calling. He spent a lot of his youth learning how to sing and play a variety of musical instruments. When he entered the service, he continued to study music in Germany during his military stint. Since he loved the gospel quartet music of his home country, he developed a dream of forming an outstanding gospel group that would be unique and distinct from other groups of his time and place.

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Dixie-Echoes-2009
This week’s feature group is like last week’s group from Florida, Pensacola to be exact, and no it is not the Florida Boys who are also from Pensacola. The group is the Dixie Echoes and they have been singing for over forty years. The group got their start in 1960 when the “Ole Gospel Man,” J.G. Whitfield, was stricken with wanting to be on the road again. JG had started and owned The Florida Boys but decided to retire from the road.

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Ken-Turner
This week’s article features one of the inductees to the South Carolina Gospel Music Association’s hall of fame, Ken Turner.  As many of you probably know, Ken grew up in Greer, more specifically in the Apalache Community. In an interview several years ago he shared how his father gave him a guitar and how he learned to play some cords. He said that he sat on the porch at night playing and singing.

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Dove-Brothers
This year at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion a group which made their debut some 12 years ago will return with the original members for a special concert. It is none-other than the original Dove Brothers Quartet from Greenville, North Carolina. The following is from an article I wrote about the Dove Brothers several years ago when this group was together as you will see them at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion August 11th through 13th. Now for a look at, in my opinion, a group which has successfully brought back The Statesmen and Blackwood Brothers style of singing which was so popular years ago.

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vaughan_james_davidIt seems only fitting that since this year marks the 100th anniversary of Southern Gospel Music that I feature the founder of Southern Gospel Music who was James D. Vaughn. America had been torn asunder by the Civil War. Atlanta lay in smoldering ruins and General Sherman and 60,000 Union troops were approaching Savannah, cutting a fifty-mile-wide swath through the Georgia countryside from Atlanta to the sea. The entire South was devastated by the war. On the evening of December 14, 1864, with Sherman only a week out of Savannah, a baby boy was born to George Washington and Eliza Vaughn in Giles County, Tennessee. The boy’s parents named him James David Vaughn. His life spanned 77 years, ending February 9, 1941, ten months before Pearl Harbor. What happened to James D. Vaughn between the burning of Atlanta and the bombing of Pearl Harbor was significant in the annals of American music. He helped develop and popularize a new folk form of American music known today as Southern Gospel Music.

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Kenny-Gates-2This week’s article takes a somewhat different direction that most weeks. My wife, Charlene, and I had the honor of attending a birthday party for Kenny Gates on Saturday of last week. Kenny turned 80 on November 3rd. Of course, if you have been reading my articles and know anything about Southern Gospel Music you have heard of Kenny. He was the piano player for the famed Blue Ridge Quartet for many years beginning in 1949. There were many stories told about Kenny and his experiences on the road. I certainly do not have space to begin to recount these stories but there is a part of his birthday party that I think bears telling, so here goes.

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blueridgeqt1960This week’s article is about one of the legendary groups in Southern Gospel Music and also a group, which was based in the upstate of South Carolina. The group I am referring to is The Blue Ridge Quartet and this month one the original members of the group will be inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall Of Fame, none other than Elmo Fagg. A year or so ago I had the honor of spending the afternoon with one of the longtime members of the quartet, Bill Crowe (no relation as far as we know) who is a nephew of Elmo Fagg. Let’s began with a little background to set the stage for what would be one of the most successful groups to come along in gospel music.

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Albert-Burmley--Goldie
A few weeks ago I wrote about one of the all-time great song writers. This week’s feature is about another writer who has penned some of the classic Southern Gospel Music songs. His name is Albert E. Brumley and he spent most of his adult life in the small town of Powell, Missouri.

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Squire-ParsonsThis week I am featuring one of the true gentlemen in Southern Gospel Music. This artist is none other than Squire Parsons. Squire is from a little town in West Virginia called Newton, which is about fifty miles from Charleston. He stated that his farther was active in the music program of his local church and also was part of a local quartet. Other members of Squire’s family were also active in music in one way or the other in the different churches located in the area. The music schools came through the area in the early 1900’s and this was where the Parsons Family began to learn the quartet style singing, commonly referred to as “shape note” music.

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The-Perrys
This week we take a look at a group which has been singing for thirty plus years, but about a year ago took on a new direction. The group is The Perrys from Morristown, Tennessee. In the early years this was a family group, but over the last few years all of the members of the Perry family have moved on with the exception of Libbi. Kenny had some health problems and the sisters’ left for various reasons. The traditional make-up of the group was two male and two female singers but when Nicole Watts decided to leave the group as well as the road to get married. The decision was made to replace Nicole with a male singer. Although there were changes taking place in The Perrys the commitment was still to keep a traditional conventional Gospel Music sound alive.

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Chuck-Wagon-Gang-2007
This week’s feature group is The Chuck Wagon Gang.  As you recall, this group began in the 30’s and traveled all over the country and recorded for over 40 years with Columbia Records. They sold more than 37 million records, which many of the secular artists have not attained. They appeared in Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, Grand Ole Opry and the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion. They are Gospel Music Hall of Fame members and are included in the Smithsonian Institution’s classic American recordings. The group left the road after the death of Roy Carter in 1997.

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McKameys-2009

This week’s article is certainly about one of the more popular groups in Southern Gospel Music, The McKameys, and if there is one word which could describe them it would be sincere. Each member of this Southern Gospel singing group is sincere in their love for the Lord, sincere in their love for the music they sing, and sincere in their need to spread the Word to others through their music.

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Gold-City---Music-Corner

This week’s feature group is Gold City.The group is made up of quite an array of talent. Some of its members have sung with some of the best groups in the business. Let’s take a look at the members of Gold City, but first let’s look at the founder who had retired from the road but is back with the group on a permantent basis, Tim Riley.

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Mike Scruggs