Most Influential – #19 – Downings

downingsThis week continues with the artist ranked 19th among the most influential in Southern Gospel history; the Downings.

When the Downing started in 1969, it was Ann that was known to most Gospel music enthusiasts for the time she spent with the Speer Family.  Ann, along with husband Paul put together a group that consisted of Paul (bass), Ann (alto), Sue Chenault (Dodge) (soprano), Greg Gordon (lead/tenor) and Dickie Matthews (piano).

The Downings would spend their entire recording career with Benson on either the Heart Warming or Impact labels.


  • downings1971The Downings is only one of two artists that made the most influential and our most underrated series.  The Downings contributions to Southern Gospel music is often overlooked or not fully realized by many Southern Gospel historians.
  • I have stated before that the music the Downings were singing in the early part of their career is some of the finest mixed quartet music a listener will ever find in Southern Gospel.  The Downings progressive style and arrangements could be heard in groups that came after.  They include:  Collingsworth Family, Crist Family, Dills, Hopes Call, Lesters, LordSong, Martins, Talleys and Taylors.
  • Hit Songs:  “A Wonderful Feeling”, “Because He Loves Me”, “Broken Vessel”, “Come On Let’s Praise Him”, “End Was The Beginning”, “Gettin Ready Today”, “God’s Wonderful People”, “Greater Is He That Is In Me”, “Happiness”, “He Rescued Me”, “I Didn’t See Yet I Believe”, “I Feel So Good About It”, “I’ve Got Confidence”, “It’s My Desire”, “Jesus Is Coming Soon”, “Oh I Need Him”, “Oh I Want To See Him”, “On The Sunny Banks”, “Operator” and “Sheltered In The Arms Of God”.
  • Best Album:  This Is How It Is…Live (1971)


Here is a YouTube clip, published by adkinsda, of the Downings on the Gospel Singing Jubilee television program performing “Exactly What I Need”.  Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Most Influential – #19 – Downings

  1. Aren’t you forgetting a couple key personnel of the Downings? I’m talking about Dony McGuire (now married to Reba Rambo-McGuire) and Joy Dyson (now married to Landy Gardner of the Christ Church Nashville Choir fame). Reba and Dony now pastor a church in Nashville called the River At Music City and Joy has quite often appeared in the Gaither Homecoming series. There were a few others along the way too and here’s a link to the Downings discography that includes a list of all personnel that I ran across if it is ok to post here:

    I agree the Downings had a unique contemporary sound during a 1970s era that was primarily dominated by the male quartets except for some other mixed groups such as the Rambos, Happy Goodmans, Speers, LeFevres, Chuck Wagon Gang and others I’m sure I’m forgetting. I got to see the Downings several times in person and enjoyed their music very much.

    1. I didn’t forget about the other personnel, I was only mentioning the original group Paul and Ann put together.

      Thanks for providing the link to It just so happens I was the one who authored the Downings discography on that page.

  2. Thank you Steve! You look so young in your picture it’s hard to believe that you were influenced by the southern gospel music of decades ago. But I’m glad to see some younger folks out there who understand about the trail-blazers that went before us and in many cases, paved the way for the more contemporary music that followed, some good, some not so good.

    1. I am glad I had the opportunity to grow up around this music by attending concerts since the age of 4.

      I was a kid in the ’80s, so I missed all the great music from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. But there were a lot of records in my home as a kid that introduced me to that era of Southern Gospel.

      I was always impressed with the Downings records I listened to. I have attempted to learn as much about this genre as I could.

      I had a lot of great Southern Gospel legends who were willing to put up with a young kid asking a lot of questions.

  3. I too loved the Downings and agree that they’re underrated (and pretty much forgotten). They probably didn’t have as much staying power because they mostly covered other artists’ songs (Rambos, Gaithers). However, they did have a few original songs after Dony McGuire joined the group. They were clearly my second favorite group of the era behind The Rambos.

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