A Southern gospel hall of fame event

A few weeks ago I was privileged to attend the Singing News Fan Awards along with the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductions at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

The streets of Dollywood were lined with fans as the musical stars of the genre walked the red carpet to cheers and flashing cameras. They then packed into the theater that housed the event as the fan favorites were announced and the industry legends were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

If you are interested in finding out about the fan awards, I encourage you to visit www.singingnews.com. Today, I am focusing on the honorees that made their way into bronze at the SGMA Hall of Fame.

One of the favorites of mine among the class of 2012 was the late Geraldine “Jerri” Morrison (1935 – 2005). She was a singer and musician who helped form Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters in 1954. Wendy, Jerri and Little Jan Buckner were a big part of my musical influences. Their group achieved the first certified gold record with “Here Come the Rattlesnakes” in 1970. Their 1994 album “Tell It Again” was nominated for a Grammy ®. They were recognized with a special award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Best T.V. Commercial for their Snap Back with Stan-Back Ad campaign.

I was pleased to see Jerri join Wendy and Little Jan in the Hall of Fame. Little Jan Buckner-Goff, her husband Horace and granddaughter Kayla Morrison accepted from Hall of Famer Dr. Jerry Goff.

Next in my personal list of favorites was the songwriter and America’s first singing cowboy adored by the radio audience Stuart Hamblen (1908-1989). His career spanned radio, music, politics, and movies. While attending Billy Graham’s 1949 tent crusade, he accepted Christ. He became one of the most prolific gospel songwriters creating songs such as “It Is No Secret,” “This Ole House,” “How Big Is God,” “Until Then,” “Teach Me Lord To Wait,” “Your First Day In Heaven” and numerous others. “It Is No Secret” which became the first song to cross from sacred to secular charts and reach Top 10 in both. His songs definitely had an impact on me and I have performed “This Ole House” so many times with Earle Wheeler of The Marksmen Quartet, I couldn’t start to count them. If you want to learn more visit www.hamblenmusic.com.

Next on my personal list of influences was Ace Richman (1916-1999) of the Sunshine Boys. He was a singer and musician who joined the Red River Rangers in 1938. The group that became the Sunshine Boys and the Light Crust Doughboys. The Sunshine Boys performed on Atlanta’s legendary WSB Saturday Night Barn Dance and also on WSB-TV. The Sunshine Boys and Red Foley collaborated on the 1951 Decca hit ‘Peace in the Valley” achieving the first gospel million seller. Richman joined the ranks of Hollywood stardom with the group in 19 Western films with famous Hollywood cowboy stars, including, Eddie Dean, Charles Starrett, Kirby Grant, Lash Larue, and Smiley Burnette.

Also among the honorees:
·          The late singer, artist owner, and businessman Charles Burke (1936-2011) of North Carolina. He owned the Singing Americans helping numerous singers, some among them Danny Funderburk, Ivan Parker, Clayton Inman, Rick Strickland and Michael English. He helped launched the Reggie Sadler Family and the Dove Brothers Quartet.
·          Singer and songwriter Jim Hill who performed with the Golden Keys Quartet, the New Stamps Quartet, and with Hovie Lister and the Statesmen. As a songwriter he was nominated for a Dove Award in 1969. Among his many compositions: “What A Day That Will Be,” “Each Step I Take,” “For God So Loved,” “No One Ever Cared So Much,” and “I’ll Make it to Heaven.”
·          Singer Buck Rambo is a singer who began his career in 1953 with the Gospel Echoes, a group that became the Singing Rambos performing with Dottie and Reba Rambo. The group recorded over 60 albums for Heart Warming Records and charted numerous gospel songs on the charts through the 1960s and 70s. Their musical offerings yielded countless awards. He was a founding member of the Gospel Music Association, board member and Hall of Fame inductee. Buck took gospel music to the troops in Vietnam. He is an ordained minister.

Probably one of the most moving presentations was the James D. Vaughan Impact Award going to the Oak Ridge Boys – Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban. It was a pleasure to visit with this talented group of men who have had such an impact around the world.

The Oak Ridge Quartet began in the 1940s reaching widespread popularity. The group became the Oak Ridge Boys in the 1960s becoming one of the all-time favorite quartets in gospel music history. The group expanded into country music in 1973 signing with Columbia Records. The Oak Ridge Boys enjoyed 25 top ten singles, including 13 number one hits while continuing to tour and record today. Earning numerous awards from Grammys, Doves, CMAs, ACMs and others, they have performed to numerous television and live audiences around the world and five U.S. presidents. Their most popular gospel songs included “I Know,” “King Jesus” and the ever popular, “Jesus Is Coming Soon.”

The Southern Gospel Music Association is a non-profit organization that maintains the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame, the only facility honoring this genre of music, for the historic preservation of the accomplishments of the music and its people. Museum hours match those of Dollywood. Donations are tax-deductible. Individuals and businesses may donate to assist with honoring inductees with special bronze plaques that are displayed in the Hall of Fame. For more information about the museum or its inductees, visit www.sgma.org.