The Jackson Southernaires Black History Highlight

Here is a Gospel Music Trivia Question – What gospel quartet group was purportedly the first group in Mississippi to use drums, keyboard and guitars? The Jackson Southernaires.

“In 1940, the Jackson Southernaires were organized by Frank Crisler in Jackson, Mississippi. The Jackson Southernaires began much the same way as the Mississippi Blind Boys. They began singing at an early age and did a lot of performing around their hometown. The Jackson Southernaires was the first gospel group to use bass, drums, keyboard and guitar in Mississippi.”

“The Jackson Southernaires have a long history of musical training and awards that have made them one of the best gospel groups in Mississippi. This group contains five members: Huey Williams, Roger Bryant Jr., Maurice Surrell, James Burks and Luther Jennings (the only remaining original member). Another member of this group, Franklin Williams, died in March of 1993.”

“In 1963, the group signed their first recording contract with Duke/Peacock Records. Their first release Too Late became one of the company’s biggest albums. From 1972-75 the group was signed to the ABC/Dunhill label. In 1975, Malaco Records, an independent blues and R & B company, decided to build a gospel label. The rock that they decided to build upon was the Jackson Southernaires. This decision would prove to be pivotal for both parties. Since signing with Malaco, The Jackson Southernaires have gone on to record twenty top ten albums, of which four have become number one.

The Southernaires are not only performers, but producers as well. They have produced albums by The Sensational Nightingales, J. J. Farley, and The Original Soul Stirrers, The Williams Family, The Truthettes, The D. R. Curry Memorial Choir, The Eveready’s, The Angelic Gospel Singers, and The Fantastic Violinaires.

In 1979, the Southernaires received a Grammy nomination for Teddy Bear. In 1985 and 1986, they received a nomination from the Stellar Awards and The Gospel Music Workshop of America as the Traditional Male Group of the Year. In 1987, they received a nomination from the NAACP Image Award as the Traditional Male Group of the Year. For the years 1987, 1988, & 1989, they won awards from the GMWA for the Traditional Male Group of the Year. In 1989, they were nominated for and won a Stellar Award for the Traditional Male Group.”