GOGR Music History -
The 2004 SGMA Hall of Fame Inductees
The pioneers of gospel music now have a place to be remembered. It is the
Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame located at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Recently, eleven new members
were inducted in the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame.
I thought it only appropriate that in the first "history lesson" for the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion site that a history of these eleven new inductees would be appropriate. Charles Waller was the executive producer of this program, and it was done with the typical class and flair we have all come to expect from his productions.
Not only will this include a brief history of the inductees, but I will also give you some sense of what it was like to have been in the auditorium that evening. It was a marvelous experience to see these legends as well as other legends who attended the event. A grand time was had by all.
I would also like to thank Mr. Waller for the opportunity to write for this web site. We have worked together for several years, and I am pleased to call him my friend. He is also a friend to gospel music, both past and present. I hope you enjoy these monthly features and will also look around the web site.
Alan Kendall is the web master, and he does a great job keeping the site updated with current news, photographs, and other exciting items. Don't be a stranger, but please visit this site often! We also appreciate your comments and suggestions.
· Arnold Hyles
Arnold Hyles, an original member of the famous Rangers Quartet, had a bass voice that has never been duplicated. His loud, gruff voice was the foundation of one of the most famous quartets in the history of gospel music. The Rangers Quartet made its mark in gospel music by spotlighting their "basso-profundo" Arnold Hyles. This group made inroads where no gospel quartet had been before. A tragic automobile accident in 1951 crippled Mr. Hyles, but his voice continued to thrill the audiences for many years thereafter. The complete story of the Rangers Quartet is found elsewhere on this site.
The Melody Boys Quartet featured their bass singer, Gerald Williams, on a song that Arnold made famous . . . "Hide Thou Me." Although this song is normally considered to be a tenor classic, Gerald Williams and the Melody Boys Quartet sang the song using the identical arrangement that the Rangers used in the early 1950s. Jimmy Jones, a close friend of Arnold Hyles, accepted the Hall of Fame award. Jimmy replaced Mr.Hyles in the Rangers Quartet in 1951 when that automobile crash hospitalized him for many months.
· Lillian Klaudt
Lillian Little Soldier Klaudt, matriarch of the famous Klaudt Indian Family, had a heart for missions. She was born on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in Beaver Creek, North Dakota. Her life was spent spreading the word of God all over the country. The Klaudt Indian Family moved from the Dakota Badlands so that her children could attend the Church of God's Bible Training School in Cleveland, Tennessee. This talented family often appeared in full Indian regalia and featured a vast array of instruments in their programs. They were one of the best loved groups on the Wally Fowler All Night Singings. The popularity of the group continued through the 60s as they were fixtures on the Bob Poole Show as well as other gospel music programs. Lillian was always a crowd favorite with her heartfelt rendition of "Blessed Assurance."
The Perrys featured the voice of Libbi Perry Stuffle as they performed her trademark song, "Blessed Assurance." The gentlemen in the quartet did a wonderful job of recreating the Klaudt Indian sound backing Libby on this classic hymn. "Chief" Melvin Klaudt accepted the award on behalf of his late mother, and many of his siblings were also in attendance at the ceremony.
· James D. Walbert
James D. Walbert is an extraordinary pianist and composer. Known as the "wizard of the keyboard," he is related to two current members of the SGMA Hall of Fame. He is the son of William B. Walbert and the grandson of James D. Vaughan. He began his gospel music career in the 1930s as pianist for the Vaughan Radio Quartet. He brought a flamboyant style to the gospel music stage, much to the chagrin of his father. Mr. Walbert is a classically trained musician, and is a very gifted piano teacher in both the sacred and secular fields.
Although Mr. Walbert is still living, heath concerns kept him from being able to attend the event. His son accepted the award on Mr. Walbert's behalf. 12-year-old Joshua Pope played a piano tribute to Mr. Walbert very much in keeping with the style that Mr. Walbert has played and taught for many years.
· B.C. Unseld
Benjamin C. Unseld was a well-known teacher of gospel music. Prior to teaching gospel music, he was an instructor at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He was the first principal of the Virginia Normal School of Music and insisted that round notes be taught there in addition to traditional gospel shaped notes. Through this, the graduates of the school had a more well rounded music education. At the time of his death, he was known to be the musical father of nearly all the successful normal teachers of the South.
· London Parris
Conley "London" Parris was the consummate performer. He possessed a large, booming bass voice and a dynamic personality that always made him a crowd favorite. Given the name "London" by Lee Roy Abernathy, he took the world of gospel music by storm when he replaced Big Jim Waits as bass singer for the Rebels Quartet. After singing with the Rebels for many years London joined the Blackwood Brothers. The Blackwood Brothers seemed to have a renewed vigor with London singing the bass. In the early 1970s, he formed London Parris and the Apostles which won the Dove Award for most promising new gospel talent in 1972. London never met a stranger, and wanted nothing more in life than to sing bass in a gospel quartet.
London's son David and daughter Kathy accepted the award for their late father, and Gold City sang a tribute to London as they performed the classic "Lily of the Valley." You could almost picture London in his own corner of Heaven waving that white hankie and singing "come on boys . . . "
· Jim Hamill
Jim Hamill has had a long career in gospel music. He has performed with many of the major groups in the industry including the Oak Ridge Quartet, Weatherfords, Blue Ridge Quartet, and the Rebels Quartet. One of his earliest groups, the Songmasters, even considered hiring Elvis Presley to sing with them. Jim's greatest accomplishment in the gospel music field occurred when he was hired by Eldridge Fox to become the stage manager for a part time group from the mountains of North Carolina. Hamill's dynamic stage presence and flair molded the Mighty Kingsmen into one of the best known and best loved groups in gospel music. Although he is a great vocalist, his emcee techniques often overshadowed his personal talents as he always sought to bring out the best in the other members of his quartet.
This Hall of Fame inductee was honored by the Kingdom Heirs singing "Love Lifted Me." Jeff Chapman, bass singer for the Kingdom Heirs, did a marvelous job of imitating Mr. Hamill's stylings on this great Kingsmen classic. Hamill's acceptance speech was filled with emotion as he took his rightly place among the greats in gospel music.
· Harvey Lester
Harvey Lester was instrumental in bringing gospel music to the Midwest. The Lester Family began their music ministry in 1925. The group featured Harvey, his wife Opal and his children. The group was based in St. Louis, Mo. where they ran a music store and taught music lessons to area students. Mr. Lester was responsible for promoting numerous gospel music events in the St. Louis area for many years. Their popularity was great in the area due in part to their extensive radio and television ministry.
Brian Lester accepted the award on behalf of his grandfather. He had a very heart-felt acceptance speech that was quite moving. Many other members of the Lester family were there to savor these precious moments.
· Ed O'Neal
Ed O'Neal began his professional career in 1958 with the Serenaders Quartet, but he spent the majority of his gospel music career as the manager and bass vocalist for the Dixie Melody Boys. His professionalism both on and off stage have made him a favorite of the fans of gospel music for many years. During his time as owner of the Dixie Melody Boys, he has trained many young artists that have gone on to become leaders in the gospel music field. Ed has reacted to many changes in the industry, and never ceases to put a great quartet on the stage with him. In 2000, Ed was presented with the prestigious Marvin Norcross Award for his contributions to gospel music.
At the awards ceremony, the O'Neal family also received another award. Ed's lovely wife, Joy O'Neal, was the recipient of the cherished "Miss Ina Goff" award for her work behind the scenes in their shared ministry.
McCray Dove and the Dove Brothers came on stage wearing white tuxedos and sang the Dixie Melody Boys classic, "Antioch Church Choir." McCray sang this song with a special fervor in tribute to the gentleman with whom he traveled for eleven years.
· Charles Vaughan
Charles Vaughan, brother of James Vaughan, was the original bass singer for the famous Vaughan Quartet. He was a very early quartet manager, as he managed several versions of the Vaughan Quartet. He later became editor of the Vaughan's Family Visitor, a publication of the Vaughan Music Company. He also served as mayor of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.
His award was accepted by one of his former students, Faye Jennings Thompson, and Greater Vision pulled out the red back hymnals to sing "He Knows How," a convention song written by Mr. Vaughan as a tribute to the Vaughan legacy.
· Derrell Stewart
Derrell Stewart began his career in gospel music with the Dixie Rhythm Quartet. In February 1956 he joined the Florida Boys and has remained on their piano bench until this day! Always wearing red socks and a smile, Derrell never ceases to put a smile on the face of the audience. His humor often overshadows his great piano techniques, for he is one of the finest quartet accompanists in the gospel music. Through his career, he has won numerous awards including the Singing News Favorite Musician and the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion Living Legend Award.
Although he is the pianist for the Florida Boys, in a twist, Derrell was replaced on the piano bench by Les Beasley and Derrell sang "This Heart of Mine" with the Florida Boys. This is a classic number he has performed nearly as long as he has been in the quartet. His heartfelt acceptance speech was rather out of character for him, as he expressed his true love of gospel music to the fans in attendance.
· Kenny Hinson
Kenny Hinson brought a new sound to the world of gospel music. His country flavored vocals soon became a favorite to gospel music fans far and wide. Kenny's unique voice was unlike any that had ever graced the gospel music stage. The Hinsons took the world of gospel music by storm, introducing many songs that quickly became gospel music classics. His techniques and flair made an undeniable impression on many that would follow his example in the gospel music industry. His performance of "The Lighthouse" is considered a gospel music classic. Kenny left us much too soon, as he succumbed to cancer at the age of 41.
Kenny's brother Ronnie Hinson and son Weston accepted the Hall of Fame award. Mike Bowling and several members of the Crabb Family performed a tribute to Kenny as they sang "Call Me Gone."
I hope you have enjoyed this look at some of the pioneers of gospel music. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to post them here or send me an email at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you.
I would also like to thank the folks at Southern Gospel News for hosting my column, SG History 101, for the past few years. I encourage you to give them a visit at http://sogospelnews.com/ Their site is updated frequently and contains the latest in gospel music news items along with lively discussion.
(Comment box deleted due to spam material, Email additional comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you so much! With all the hoopla in other styles of music, some may forget the rich truth of the soul that Southern Gospel Quartet has brought to mankind. Only GOD can have a message this pure.
wONDERFUL ARTICLE!!!!I really enjoy reading all of your articles. Since I couldn't go to the event this is the next best thing.
A long needed column. Thanks. I love Southern Gospel Music and live a long way outside the route for concerts. So I rely on radio and Tapes. I love to read history
Thank you for your contribution to a history lesson well given!!!
John Congratulations on your new home for your wonderful histories. There's no more suitable site than this one. The new history on this year's SGMA inductees was terrific. And the layout for your previous columns not only looks good but also makes them easy to find. I don't know if Alan deserves some of the credit for that.
John, thank you once again for an excellent article! I am so glad you have moved your article to the GOGR site. I beleive it has found it's real home! I wish I could have been at the ceremony....Charles Waller, The Melody Boys Quartet, the Dove Brothers, the Florida Boys, and John Crenshaw all in one place; "it don't get much better than that"!
Thank you John and Tha Man for continued ongoing information, not only of the past, but also of the present and soon future. It was ajoy to finally meet you John.
John, Great description - "I wish I coulds been there"! DA
John....All who read your columns eagerly await the next edition. I, for one, always learn something new and exciting about Southern Gospel music whenever your articles appear. Charlie has made an outstanding choice in bringing your talents to the website.
John... Great start! Only you could have done such a superlative job with the capsules of the brand-new Hall of Famers! I look forward to your upcoming columns here as well!
11/01/2004 John' It is a pleasure to have you on board with the Grand Ole Gospel Reuinon. Although you have always been a part of us through your many years of support. There are many in this industry who could care less about our history. As I often say "If you don't know where you are going, you better remember where you have been". I am thankful you do care about our history. Again, great to have you as a member of the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion! Tha'Man
John, words are not enough to express the gratitude I feel for the many kind things you have done for gospel music fans all over the world, and for your selfless and gracious devotion to keeping the memories alive. God Bless you my friend.
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Last Modified: November 23, 2004
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