Most Influential – #2 – Cathedrals

cathedrals1980betterthanevermaxThe top five most influential artists in Southern Gospel music nearly wraps up this week with the artist ranked 2nd; the Cathedrals.

The Cathedral Trio formed in 1963 with Bobby Clark, Danny Koker and Glen Payne.  The name came about as a result of the group being formed at the Cathedral of Tomorrow in Akron, OH.  George Younce would come aboard as bass singer in 1964 and the Cathedral Quartet was born.

The group struggled in the 1970’s trying to gain a foothold in the industry.  The Cathedrals experienced quite a few personnel changes during the decade.  It wasn’t until the early 1980’s that the group would find some stability and finally become a top-tier group.

The early 1980’s line up of Kirk Talley (tenor), Payne (lead), Mark Trammell (baritone), Younce (bass) and Roger Bennett (piano) won favorite group at the Singing News fan awards in ’82 and ’83.  This line-up released two of the group’s biggest recordings with Something Special and Live In Atlanta.

The group didn’t miss a beat when Talley was replaced by Danny Funderburk in late ’83.  By the time the 1990’s rolled around the Cathedrals were on top of the Southern Gospel world as the final line-up of Ernie Haase (tenor), Payne (lead), Scott Fowler (baritone), Younce (bass) and Bennett (piano) dominated that decade.  

The Cathedrals legacy came to and end in 1999 when the group decided to retire.  Original member Glen Payne ended up passing before the group was able to finish their final set of concerts.  The group went out on top and the groups that were born out of the Cathedral legacy continue to find huge success in Southern Gospel music.


  • cathedrals1983liveinatlantamaxThe Cathedrals won 78 Singing News fan awards during the course of the career including song of the year in 1983 (“Step In To The Water”) and 1995 (“Jesus Has Risen”).  The group was no stranger to the Dove awards winning a total of 14 during their career.  Members of the Cathedrals that have been inducted in to the Southern Gospel music hall of fame include Roger Bennett (2007), Glen Payne (1997) and George Younce (1998).  The group was also inducted in to the Gospel Music hall of fame in 1999.
  • The Cathedrals influence is felt greatest in the many groups born of out their legacy:  Greater Vision, Heartland Quartet, Legacy Five, Mark Trammell Quartet, Mercy’s Way, Perfect Heart and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound.
  • The many individuals who joined Glen and George over the years should not be forgotten:  Roger Bennett, Bobby Clark, Haskell Cooley, Bill Dykes, Scott Fowler, Danny Funderburk, Jim Garstang, Ernie Haase, Roger Horne, Danny Koker, Steve Lee, Lorne Matthews, Kirk Talley, Mark Taunton, Mark Trammell, Roy Tremble, George Amon Webster, Gerald Wolfe and Kurt Young.
  • Hit Songs:  “An Old Convention Song”, “Blood Washed Band”, “Boundless Love”, “Can He Could He Would He”, “Champion Of Love”, “Climbing Higher And Higher”, “Even Winds Whisper His Name”, “God Delivers Again”, “Gonna Shout All Over Heaven”, “Have You Visited Heaven Lately”, “He Loves Me”, “He Made A Change”, “Healing”, “I Can See The Hand”, “I Saw Love”, “In The Depths Of The Sea”, “It’s Alright”, “It’s Not What’s Over The Door”, “I’ve Been With Jesus”, “I’ve Just Started Living”, “I’ve Read The Back Of The Book”, “Jesus Is Right”, “Jesus Has Risen”, “Jesus Saves”, “The Last Sunday”, “The Laughing Song”, “Master Builder”, “Mexico”, “Movin’ Up To Gloryland”, “Plan Of Salvation”, “Romans 8:28”, “Sin Will Take You Farther”, “Somebody Loves Me”, “Somebody Touched Me”, “Step In To The Water”, “Still Drinking Water From The Well”, “Sunshine And Roses”, “That’s Just Like Jesus”, “Then Came The Morning”, “Then I Found Jesus”, “This Ole House”, “Thus Saith The Lord”, “Trying To Get A Glimpse”, “We Shall See Jesus”, “Wedding Music”, “Who Can Do Anything”, “Worthy The Lamb”, “Yesterday” and “You Can Walk On Water”.
  • Best Album:  Live In Atlanta (1983)


Of all the songs the Cathedrals recorded in their career, one of my favorites was “I Can See The Hand”.  Here is a YouTube clip (published by BnCSGMusic) of the Cathedrals performing the song.  Enjoy!


6 thoughts on “Most Influential – #2 – Cathedrals

  1. Hmm…no offense Steve for the first time this is a second straight week where I disagree. Last week, I didn’t mention it since I don’t listen to Hinson stuff that much but I’ve got to raise an eyebrow.

    Still, very deserving of this slot either way. You basically just have to say the “Cathedrals” and you get a huge response (if not a few people standing). Plus, so many groups have come out of the Cathedrals.

    I had a friend watch last year’s SN Fan Awards with me even though he’s not a huge SG music fan yet and when over he said “So how come those Cathedral guys they kept talking not win anything or sing even.”

    It hadn’t dawned on me during the show how many times the Cathedrals get mentioned in passing until I re-watched the show.

    Of course, that led to a strange explanation that they aren’t around anymore but that they’re that popular still.

  2. We now know who number 1 is going to be!

    Live in Atlanta was a great recording, but so was Travelin’ Live. I give the edge on live albums to Travelin’ Live.

    On studio recordings, all of them from the Funderburk years rank way up on my list of all time favorites. The Prestegious was a phenomenal recording, as was I’ve Just Started Living.

    I had guessed all along that your final two would be the Cathedrals and The Statesmen. Now, we know the order. Tough call.

  3. I also have to disagree with you. The Kingsmen had far more of an influence then the cathedrals, Ed Crawford, Arthur Rice, Wayne Manerd, to Name a few. Ask Ricky Carden of the Down East Boys, what lp he (cut his teeth on) Squire Parsons and redeemed, Land Of The Skyboys, Jeremy Peace of Old Paths Quartet, Garry Sheppard Of Perfect Heart. The Kingsboys, The Jonathans, Randy Miller soloist. The List goes on, Chris Collins and his wife-duet. Eldridge Fox and his influence on Gold City, Eldridge getting Charles Burke to form the singing americans. My friend you got this one wrong. Cathedrals well deserving, but not #2.


  4. I think this one (and the group that will clearly be #1) are dead-on. No other quartets have been more influential. The Cathedrals have influenced the way nearly every gospel quartet sings or performs today. And #1 influenced the Cathedrals, Kingsmen, Gold City, etc, the groups that influenced the next generation of gospel quartets.

  5. Take a look at the Top 40 in Singing News. You will typically see four groups run by former Cathedrals members on that list, with at least one in the top ten. Legacy Five doesn’t have a Top 40 song on the October chart, currently, but EH&SS have two.

    You’ll also typically see 10 or so other quartets who, if asked to name their strongest influences, would likely list the Cathedrals in their top 3.

    That’s just one example of the lasting influence of the Cathedrals that few other groups, if any, can match.

    I’ve strongly disagreed with Steve on a few of his rankings, (GVB way back at #15….really???), but the Cathedrals definitely belong at or near the top.

    The evidence speaks for itself.

  6. In my opinion, they are #1!!! Live in Atlanta, Prestigious, Voices in Praise, and Faithful are my favourite recordings.
    Thanks for the write up!

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