Entries tagged with “Birmingham”.


2012 New Year's CelebrationThere are programs that happen each year that you can actually plan your quartet gospel calendar around. For instance, anyone involved with quartet gospel know that on the First Sunday in October, all roads lead to Augusta for The Swanee Quintet’s Anniversary. And, for over 30 years the Blockbuster Showdown has taken place in Florence, South Carolina during the first part of March. Likewise, each valentine weekend, quartet gospel enthusiasts journey to Albany, Georgia, for the Family Reunion Fest. Don’t forget the Mississippi Burning near the end of May. The Burning has been a mainstay on the Gospel Quartet concert calender for over 27 years.

And, of course there is the American Gospel Quartet Convention held the third (3rd) week of January in Birmingham, Alabama. This will be the twentieth (20th) year for the Convention. The “2012 AGQC will exhibit a strong atmosphere with a mixture of church and music industry presentations, seminars, record company showcases, special luncheon, and powerful preaching.”

Another annual event is the New Year’s Day program sponsored by Loretta Coleman in Columbia, South Carolina. January 1, 2012, will be the twelfth (12th) year for the program. The 2012 program is headlined by Doc McKenzie & The Hi-Lites. Joining the Doctor will be The Fantastic Violinaires, The Sensational Nightingales, The Legendary Singing Stars, Lil’ David & The Bells Of Joy, Lil’ Sonny & The Peacemakerz, Faithful, Rev. Mathew Mickens & The New Highway Travelers, and God’s Bless.

What a FANTASTIC way to begin the new year.

Jehovah Praise, Tampa, Florida, Rev. Roy Reed & The Zion Jubilees, Bryan, Texas, The Miller Singers, Birmingham, Alabama, The Rising Star Singers, Eastover, South Carolina, Jimmy & Darlene HarrisonSharp Records was formed in 1994 by Tony Sharper. Many may not have heard of this label. That is about to change. Sharp Records is not just a gospel label. They have artists from all of the major genres, including Country and R & B.

They are the home of numerous gospel artists. As to the Quartet Gospel genre, they have groups like The Gospel Songbirds of Meridian, Mississippi, The Miracle Wonders, The Soulful Sunlighters of Griffin, Georgia, and The Jacksonaires of Star City, Arkansas.

Today we received CDs from Sharp on Jehovah Praise, Tampa, Florida, Rev. Roy Reed & The Zion Jubilees, Bryan, Texas, The Miller Singers, Birmingham, Alabama, The Rising Star Singers, Eastover, South Carolina, and Jimmy & Darlene Harrison. Let’s take a look at two (2) of them.

Jehovah Praise’s I Need You Right Now consists of six (6) songs. The lead singers are Patricia Hackshaw and Betty Jean Fletcher. The word “Praise” in the group’s name is very appropriate. For, the project could be described as good Praise and Worship by a gospel quartet group.

The Miller Singers CD is titled It’s Getting Late In The Evening. This is a seven (7) track project. Listening to this project reminds us that there are good gospel singers all around this country that are rarely knew beyond their hometown. Well, for some good down home gospel singing by a group you may not have heard before get the CD by The Miller Singers. Just listen to their rendition of “It’s Getting Late In The Evening” and you will be convinced it is time for them to be introduced to the world.

The Gospel HarmonettesBlack History Highlight

Here is a Gospel Music Trivia Question – What group performed on the Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts Show in 1948? The Gospel Harmonettes.

In 1940, Mildred Madison (Mildred Howard), Odessa Edwards, and Evelyn Starks Hardy came together to form the group, The Gospel Harmonettes. Other original members were Vera Kalb, and Willie May Newberry Garth. Initially the group was called the Harmoneers. And, later the Lee Harmoneers. By the time Dorothy Love Coates joined the group in 1947, they were known as The Gospel Harmonettes.

They were one of the first all-women gospel singing groups to sign a national recording contract, the Harmonettes were fronted by Dorothy Love Coates and toured the country for more than three decades, played at Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theater and Madison Square Garden, recorded on RCA and Specialty Records, and left a legacy of classic songs that are still sung in churches around the world.

“A turning point for the Harmonettes came in 1947, when Hardy suggested Coates join them as lead singer after hearing the future star on a Birmingham radio program. Hardy said she was lying in bed and sat straight up when she heard Coates sing and decided it was the voice they needed to give the Harmonettes an extra push.” All Music Guide

They traveled the “gospel highway” from church to church and town to town, all through the South, Midwest, and in such northern cities as Philadelphia, New York, and Newark. In 1959, they began recording for Savoy Records in Newark. In 1961, the group, which adjusted its membership to include Cleo Kennedy, recorded for Savoy, and then in 1964 for Vee-Jay, an affiliation that lasted until 1968, when they did a few songs for Okeh/Columbia (including the remarkable “Strange Man”) and made some discs for Nashboro. Neither Coates nor her group recorded since about 1970, although Coates was intermittently active in live performance during subsequent years.

Ms. Coates has been described as being as almost preaching when she sang. It is no doubt with her fronting The Gospel Harmonettes, they became one of the great gospel quartet groups of the golden era of gospel music. Ms. Coates died on April 9, 2002.

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Ms. Hardy recently published an autobiography that includes the history of The Gospel Harmonettes. It is titled The Sweetest Harmony.