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GOGR Music History -
The Speer Family

As the years passed by, the Speers continued to be at the top of the gospel music world.

The lovely "Speer" ladies continued to draw attention from the males that followed the group. Sue Chenault left the Speers shortly after they recorded one of their greatest hits penned by Harold Lane, "Touring That City". Their wonderful soprano vocalist married Amos Dodge and she became a preacherís wife. She and Reverend Amos continue their ministry many years hence. She has appeared many times at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion and was the subject of "This Is Your Life Sue Dodge" just a few years ago.

The Speers began to lean toward a more contemporary vein during the next years. Dianne Hooper replaced Sue with the family and became an extremely popular vocalist with the Speers. Many great songs were recorded during her time with the family. "God Gave the Song" was one of the "sugar sticks" for the Speers during that time. The 1974 version of the Speers presented a modern sound to their fans, but they also included the old convention songs in their programs.

Polyester suits, "cool" hairstyles, and great backing musicians brought the Speers into the mid 1970s. Their song selections continued to focus on writings by Bill Gaither, Harold Lane, and Mosie Lister. Their fans

Steve, Jeannie, Ben, Mike James, Harold, Brock, Sue - 1973

continued to love them even as they leaned a little more toward the left of their Nazarene contemporaries.

Soon, the Speers also recorded a great two disc recording with Doug Oldham called "Doug Oldham and the Speers Live". The Speers backed Doug on many of his classic performances as well as singing many Speer Family classics. Many of the Bill Gaither songs that would become "praise classics" were recorded on this album.

The Speers continued to reign atop the gospel music charts with songs such as "The Brush", "This is the Time I Must Sing" and "Itíll Be Joy". The beautiful alto voice of Jeannie Johnson left the Speers in the mid 1970s and was replaced by Vicki Clayton Harvell. This group recorded a great Lari Goss song, "The Cornerstone" that became a Speer classic. By that time, John Mays joined the group and soon he and Dianne became husband and wife.

Harold, Mike Guthrie, Brock, Ben, Vicki Harvell, Dianne Hooper-Mays, John Mays - 1977

"Interceding" followed "Cornerstone" in the list of classic Speer recordings. Faye Speer returned to the group providing the lovely alto that was a part of the Speers for so many years prior to this recording. John and Dianne Mayes left the Speers and Penny Cardin added her lovely soprano voice to the group. The Speers released their "60th Anniversary Celebration" on HeartWarming records featuring live recordings by the new group, a selection of "best of" recordings on the HeartWarming label, and several songs by the "old Speers". This two disc set with a gatefold cover became a landmark recording for the Speer Family. The interior of the record gave a great recording history of the Speer Family from the oldest days with Logan and Pearl through the "polyester days" of the early 1980s.

Kathy Watson replaced Penny Cardin in the Speers. Penny later was a member of the country group "Dave and Sugar". Although she was only with the group for a short time, they

Brian, Faye, Dianne, John, Ben, Harold, Brock - 1980

released the great recording "Hallelujah" with Kathy singing soprano. Kathy later joined the Chuck Wagon Gang where she remained for several years.

Speer sisters Mary Tom and Rosa Nell soon got the urge to again travel with their brothers on the gospel music circuit. They did some special programs with their brothers and also made some recordings with the Speers. One of their finest was "The Speers Live Featuring the Speer Sisters" from 1983.

The Speers also released a tribute to their fine songwriter and tenor Harold Lane.

Caroline Traylor replaced Kathy Watson as soprano for the Speers. She was heard on several later Speer Family projects prior to her passing.

Our Speer Family tribute will conclude with a summation of the later years of this wonderful singing group.

Stay tuned for the conclusion of this tribute to the Speer Family.

Feel free to leave comments at john@grandolegospelreunion.com on our online guest book.

 


At the Dove Awards
L-R: Brian, Brock, Dianne, John, Ben, Harold,
Darren Speer

 


(Top) Harold, Brian
(Bottom) Dave Clark, Brock, Faye,
Ben, Kathy Watson - 1982

(Top) Dave, Brock, Harold
(Middle) Ben, Kathy
(Bottom) Faye, Brian - 1982

 


Ben, Harold, Caroline Traylor, Brock, Faye - 1983

(Top) Caroline Traylor, Tony Howard, Dave Clark, Harold, Faye
(Bottom) Ben, Brock - 1984

 


(Clockwise from left)
Rosa Nell, Harold, Mary Tom,
Ben, Faye, Brock - 1985

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