The Golden Gate Quartet

Formation of the Group

In the mid 1930’s 4 highschool students from Norfol, VA joined together to create what was initially called the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet. They gained momentum by performing for local churches and radio shows ultimately getting the attention of the record label, Victor. Though they sang mostly gospel and jubilee, they incorporated jazz and barbershop type influence. They were known for their melodic sound and having voices that “sound like instruments”. The starting group included  William Langford  who was second tenor, and Orlandus Wilson, bass, Willie Johnson who was both baritone and narrator, and Henry Owens, first tenor, who sang for the Booker T.  Washington High School glee club.

History of Jubilee

The jubilee style was sweeping church in the 30s, especially in Virginia. It managed to combine spiritual music with jazz and other popular harmonies in a commercially appealing way. The jubilee quartet originates from the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University. The group started as college students from Nashville, Tennessee who went on to great success and are considered pioneers today. The word jubilee, however, originates from the Old Testament. 

Some of Their Notable Records:

  1. Golden Gate Gospel Train
  2. Jonah in the Whale
  3. Preacher and the Bear
  4. Sampson
  5. Go Where I Send Thee
  6. Rock My Soul
  7. Troubled So Hard
  8. Old Alabama
  9. Take This Hammer
  10. Didn’t It Rain
  11. Noah
  12. Bedside of a Neighbor


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