The Speer Family will be forever credited as the first family/mixed group in Southern Gospel music, beginning in 1921. In an era when song book quartets were traveling, singing and selling song books, the Speer Family began their singing career with George (dad), Lena (mom), George’s sister Pearl Claborn and her husband Logan.
In the beginning, the group sang throughout the southeast United States singing both Gospel music and secular/mainstream music of that time. When Pearl and Logan left the group, George and Lena called on their children to join the group. Brock, Mary Tom, Rosa Nell and Ben all became accomplished singers and musicians at the instruction of Dad Speer.
As the children got older and began getting married, the sisters would leave the road opening up for Brock’s wife, Faye to join the group. The Speer Family is also credited as having one of the first 12″ LPs released on RCA Victor in 1955 titled The Speer Family Album.
The Speer Family’s success continued in to the 1960’s. Then the Gospel music community lost George Speer in 1966 and Lena followed a year later (1967). Brock and Ben could have decided to stop singing after the loss of their parents, but instead they soldiered on and carried the Speers to even greater success in the 1970’s.
The Speer Family legacy finally came to end in 1996 when the group celebrated 75 consecutive years in Southern Gospel music. The influence the Speer Family would forever have on the opening landscape of having more than just all male quartets singing this style of Gospel music will never be forgotten. Every mixed/family group that ever found success in Southern Gospel music can thank the Speer Family.
- It is hard to believe the Speer Family only ever won, one Singing News fan award when Jane Greene won horizon individual in 1989. They had greater success at the Dove awards winning 11 Dove awards, including mixed group of the year eight times and Southern Gospel album of the year in 1975 (I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen) and 1976 (Between The Cross And Heaven).
- The Speer Family have also found a home in the Gospel music hall of fame, being inducted in 1998. George Speer (1997), Lena Speer (1997), Brock Speer (1997), Mary Tom (2006), Rosa Nell (2005), Ben Speer (1998) and Harold Lane (2009) are all Southern Gospel hall of fame inductees.
- As already mentioned every mixed/family group that came after can credit their success to the Speer Family. The Speer Family alumni, in addition to those already mentioned, include Karen Apple, Kelly Back, Joyce Black, Sue Dodge, Ann Downing, Jane Greene, Bill Itzel, Bob Johnson, Jeanne Johnson, Harold Lane, Sherrill Nielsen, Linda Robinson, Ginger Smith, Marc Speer, Michael Speer, Steve Speer, Susan Speer, Caroline Traylor, Daryl Williams and Charles Yates.
- Hit Songs: “All Because Of God’s Amazing Grace”, “Before The Rocks Cry Out”, “Between The Cross And Heaven”, “Broken Pieces”, “Child Of The King”, “Church Of The Living God”, “Church Triumphant”, “City Coming Down”, “Cornerstone”, “Dearest Friend I Ever Had”, “Didn’t It Rain”, “God Gave The Song”, “God’s Love”, “Hallelujah He’s Coming Again”, “Hallelujah Time”, “He Still Reigns”, “Heaven’s Jubilee”, “Here Comes The Bride”, “He’s Ever Interceding’, “He’s On The Throne”, “He’s Still In The Fire”, “I Just Began To Live”, “I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen”, “I Never Shall Forget The Day”, “I Was There When It Happened”, “In The Midst Of It All”, “It Had To Be Love”, “I’m Bound For That City”, “Jesus (He Is The Son Of God)”, “Joy In The Camp”, “The King Is Coming”, “Let’s Just Praise The Lord”, “Miracles Will Happen On That Day”, “Next Time He Comes”, “Old Fashioned Meeting”, “Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference”, “Pity The Man”, “Rock I’m Leaning On”, “Saved To The Uttermost”, “Spirit Will Come Down”, “Steppin Out On Faith”, “Time Has Made A Change”, “What Sins Are You Talking About”, “When Jesus Breaks The Morning” and “Won’t We Be Happy”.
- Best Album: Big Singing Day (1968)
Here is a YouTube clip (published by Edwin Miolen) of the Speer Family performing “Child Of The King”. Enjoy!