When thinking about Checker Records, the one group that epitomized the powerhouse position of the label during its zenith was THE VIOLINAIRES. The albums that Checker released on The Violinaires are some of the best vintage quartet gospel recordings ever.
Checker Records was actually owned by Chess Records. In 1947, brothers “Leonard and Philip Chess . . . entered into a partnership with Charles and Evelyn Aron in Aristocrat Records. The Arons had just formed Aristocrat Records to record blues, jazz and rhythm & blues.”
“In late 1949, Leonard and Phil Chess purchased the interests of the Arons and became the sole owners of Aristocrat Records. On June 3, 1950, they reorganized the company and changed its name to Chess Records.”
During the 1960’s, Checker released some of the most memorable gospel music by some of the legends of this genre. Some of the groups they recorded were The Bells Of Joy, The Original Five Blind Boys Of Mississippi, The Christland Singers, The Norfleet Brothers, The Harmonizing Four, Aretha Franklin, The Violinaires, The Soul Stirrers, The Meditation Singers, The Cleveland Golden Echos, Alex Bradford, The Salem Travelers and Ernest Franklin.
Checker’s contribution to this genre is immeasurable. Maybe all the gospel artists of Checker would have recorded even if there was not Checker. However, one cannot imagine that the ‘sound’ would have been as rich and lasting without Checker.