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GOGR Music History -
The Speer Family

Dad Speer once recorded a song entitled "Time Has Made a Change." Although at the time, that seemed a long ways away for the Speer children, but it finally happened.

Although the nucleus for the Speer Family remained secure for many years, the "adopted" Speers were like a revolving door. As mentioned in the previous article, soprano Caroline Traylor passed away after a bout with cancer. The Speers didnít immediately replace her and recorded two projects without a soprano vocalist. "Stepping Out on Faith" and "Celebration at Sea" featured the voices of Ben, Brock, and Faye Speer with Harold Lane. Harold Lane left the group in 1988. He was replaced by Bill Itzell and Jane Greene joined as soprano vocalist. The Speers continued to experience success on the charts with this group. "Saved to the Uttermost" and "Heís Still in the Fire" were two of their greatest recordings.

Daryl Williams joined the Speers about the time they were celebrating their 70th anniversary. The Speers recorded their 70th Anniversary recording at this time and brought back many members from their past. As folks like Joyce Black West, Harold Lane, Ann Sanders Downing, Charles Yates, Sue Chenault Dodge, and Dianne Hooper Mays joined the current Speer Family on the stage, the Speer legacy was quite apparent. The Speers celebrated their anniversary on the stage at the National Quartet Convention with Linda Robinson Sholar in the mix. This group from the late 60s was accepted as one of the greatest to ever take the convention stage. Their version of "I Sure Do Love the Lord" ranks as one of the finest songs ever to be presented on the NQC stage.

Daryl, Karen, Ben, Brock, Faye - 1991

The Speers continued to sing the praises of God. Although time had made a change in the personnel, the core of the Speer Family continued to produce a quality sound on the stage and in the recording studio. Jane Greene was replaced by the lovely Karen Apple. Her gospel music roots ran deep, for she was the daughter of Ken Apple. Darryl Williams, Dave Gallagher, Tim Parton, and Eddie Bolton all took their places in the history of the Speer Family. The Speer Sisters always continued to perform with the group whenever their services were needed. During these later years, Harold Lane had left the group as had Brother Ben. However, Ben rejoined the Speer Family for their final concerts.

After 75 years, it became apparent that the Speers were ready to retire from the day to day grind of the gospel music industry.

Time had certainly made a change. At the National Quartet Convention, the Speer Family announced their retirement from gospel singing. All of the gospel music industry showed their thanks to the Speers for all of their accomplishments in gospel music. By this time, Brock was experiencing symptoms of alzheimers. It was time for the Speer Family to retire from singing. Ben announced from the stage that this was their farewell appearance. Many of their peers presented roses to the group in honor of their years of service to the gospel music industry.

Ben, Brock, Rosa Nell, and Mary Tom at the time of their retirement

Brock Speer was inducted into the SGMA Hall of Fame in 1997 along with Mom and Dad Speer. Ben followed them in 1998. Rosa Nell was inducted in 2005 followed by Mary Tom in 2006. In 2002, Faye Speer joined Ben and his sisters Rosa Nell and Mary Tom on a recording called "Just Canít Quit." The remaining Speers re-recorded many of the songs made famous by the singing Speer Family.

Ben continues to perform with the Gaither entourage. Faye, Mary Tom and Rosa Nell also perform sporadically. Mark Speer attempted to put a group on the road as the "New Speer Revival," but it floundered after a couple of years. Brianís wife, Allison Durham, continues to perform as "Allison Durham Speer." She continues the Speer legacy through her songs of faith.

Through the years, few names have had the impact upon gospel music as have the name of "Speer." In addition to their numerous awards and means of acclaim, the Speers have also started the careers of many young gospel music artists. Itís no wonder that the Speer Family has become known as the "First Family of Gospel Music."

New Speer Revival
Rick Moore, Karen Apple,
Kimber Manning, Marc Speer

Remaining members of the Speer Family
Mary Tom, Rosa Nell, Ben, Alison, Faye, Brian

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