Special to the Index
Southern Gospel Music began over 100 years ago, when James D. Vaughn decided to sponsor a traveling quartet to sing his songs and sell his songbooks.
Since that time many hundreds, maybe thousands of gospel male quartets, mixed quartets and trios have come and gone. Many have left wonderful legacies of great singing, interesting personalities and interesting histories. Some, like the Blackwood Brothers sang for forty years, some like the Cathedrals traveled and sang for thirty years. Most, however, blossom and bloom for four or five years and fade away.
One quartet, based in California, was formed out of the Stamps Harmony Boys in 1954 and has now survived fifty-eight years – equal to over 55 percent of the entire history of Southern Gospel Music. The Songfellows Quartet is now one of the longest lasting groups in the history of Southern Gospel Music and will perform in Mineral Wells Sunday, Nov. 24 at Rock Creek Road Baptist Church.
It all started back in the 1920’s when a young man in Sweetwater, Texas, attended a Stamp School of Music. That young man, Bob Jones Sr., 2006 inductee of the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, formed the quartet in San Diego in 1944. One of the original members was another Hall of Fame member, Earl Weatherford. Together they developed a style of quartet singing that influenced an entire generation of quartets, including the Weatherfords, Imperials and the Cathedrals.
In 1954 The Songfellows Quartet was launched on the Mutual Radio Network. People listened to their Sunday night radio broadcast from Guam to Des Moines and from Vancouver to Mexico City. The quartet was an early participant in television and appeared with many country artists such as Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Red Foley and Glen Campbell. They have also been featured on Gospel Music Southern Style, TBN’s Praise the Lord and the Voice of Calvary. Now they are the featured group on the “Brush Arbor Jubilee” the syndicated Southern Gospel program heard and seen over much of the United States.