For this week’s retro spotlight I wanted to see how far back I could go in my music collection. The oldest LP I own happens to be the Speer Family’s Speer Family Album RCA recording from 1955. The problems with this time period in recording is copyright dates were in most cases not listed on the LP. By looking at catalog numbers on most LPs, a date could be determined within a year one way or the other. So I chose 1963 for this week’s retro spotlight, while understanding some of these recordings are considered circa 1963.
The Dixie Echoes released their first album circa 1963 titled Sing Songs Of Faith. The group was composed of George Forbes (Tenor), Jack Toney (Lead), Joe Whitfield (Baritone) and JG Whitfield (Bass). Musicians included Sue Whitfield on piano and Hal Kennedy on lead guitar. Hal was also a featured vocalist and the song clip chosen from this recording features Hal. The song clip is “Keep Walking”.
The Happy Goodmans were also starting their recording career in 1963. On October 10th, 1963 to be exact the group recorded what would be their first album on Sims Records. The album, I’m Too Near Home; the song clip featured, “It’s Different Now”.
The Hopper Brothers & Connie would release their first album in 1962 with Gospel Favorites. They followed that up circa 1963 with their second recording, Man On The Middle Cross. The group at this time featured Will (Tenor), Claude (Lead), Steve (Baritone), Monroe (Bass), Connie (Pianist) and Paul (Musician). Featured is a song made popular by the Sego Brothers & Naomi, “Satisfied With Me”.
Quartets dominated the Gospel music industry during this time period. There were a few mixed groups break through and one of those was the LeFevres. The group opened their own recording studio in 1960 and started the Sing Records label. Circa 1963, the LeFevres released Rainbow Of Love. The bass singing talents of Rex Nelon can be heard on “All Aboard”.
The Oak Ridge Boys were also riding high during this era. Singing The Gospel was released by the Stateswood Record label in 1963. The Oak Ridge Boys were mainstays on the Skylite Record label, one of the only major labels at this time period. The vocal line-up here included Willie Wynn (Tenor), Smitty Gatlin (Lead), Jim Hamill (Baritone) and Herman Harper (Bass). Not to be overlooked was Tommy Fairchild on the piano. I have provided a clip of “Lord I Want To Go To Heaven”.
From the Tampa Florida area of the country came the Rebels Quartet. The group had Horace Parrish (Tenor), Jay Berry (Lead), John Matthews (Baritone), London Paris (Bass) and ‘Little’ Jimmy Taylor (Piano). At this time period they recorded for the LeFevre’s Sing Record label. There were several albums released circa 1963, one of those being No Disappointments In Heaven. Featured is the song “There’s Only One Way”.
The family group that was the standard-bearer for all family groups that came after was the Speer Family. Next to the Statesmen and Blackwood Brothers, they were the biggest group in Gospel Music during this era. They released several albums with RCA and in 1963 came the recording Sacred Hour. Featured from this recording is a clip of “God’s Love”.
The Stamps Quartet returned to recording Gospel music in 1963 with the release of a Skylite Records album titled, The New Stamps Quartet. This was prior to JD Sumner returning to the helm of the group. At this time the group was composed of Jerry Redd (Tenor), Terrell Blackwood (Lead), Roger McDuff (Baritone), John Hall (Bass) and ‘Smilin’ Joe Roper (Pianist). Featured is a great quartet number, “I’ll Be Ready To Go With Him”.
Our walk down memory lane wouldn’t be complete without the standard bearer’s of Southern Gospel quartet music, the Statesmen. Also recording with RCA, the Statesmen released The Mystery Of His Way is 1963. What several historians of this music consider the best quartet line-up ever, this album featured Rosie Rozell (Tenor), Jake Hess (Lead), Doy Ott (Baritone), ‘Big Chief’ Wetherington (Bass) and Hovie Lister (Pianist). This album also featured a song that has since become a song every tenor singer has probably attempted in their career. How about we hear the first tenor to ever sing “What A Savior”.