The Harmonizing Four Black History Highlight

Here is a Gospel Music Trivia Question – What gospel quartet group was invited to sing at the funeral of President Franklin Roosevelt in 1945? The Harmonizing Four.

The Harmonizing Four is one of the groups that has been described as having mastered the “jubilee” style of gospel music. Although several dates have surface as the possible founding year for this group, it does appear the group was founded in the early 1930s. The early members of the group were John T. Scott, Joe Curby, Lawrence Hatcher, and Willie Peyton. Other members during the early years were Leon Gibson, Robert Simpkins, Tommy Johnson, Levi Hansley, Lonnie Smith and Joseph “Gospel Joe” Williams. The group’s first recording was in 1943. Interestingly, the group’s name at that time was Richmond’s Harmonizing Four. There is a CD that was released in 1996, by Document Records that actually have on it six (6) of the songs the group recorded under the name Richmond’s Harmonizing Four.

In the 1950s, James Walker (of The Dixie Hummingbirds) and Tommy Ellison (of Tommy Ellison & The Singing Stars) had brief tenure with the group. Tommy Ellison can be heard singing lead on the Harmonizing Four’s version of “I Found The Lord.” And, one of the most notable voices from the group made his presence known in the 50s, and that is none other than Bass Singer Jimmy Jones.

For about sixty (60) years this group delivered great gospel music. The group recorded with some of the premier record labels for their time. Fortunately, many of the recordings are now available on CDs. Their early recordings, particularly those done a cappella, deserve to be classified as American Treasures.

The group was nominated for the 2008 GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame.