The Golden Gate Quartet

Who is the GGQ:

The Golden Gate Quartet, was formed by four teenage students in Norfolk, Virginia. The group attended Booker T. Washington and were referred to as the golden gate jubilee singers. The group’s jubilee style is recognized for its unusual harmony and swinging rhythms. The Golden Gate Quartet consists of Willie Johnson, lyric baritone/ falsetto William Langford, tenor Henry Owens, and tenor Clyde Reddick. During the time period of 1880-1929 there were several influential quartets and musicians, but the most innovative gospel music group was the Golden Gate Quartet. 



The Golden Gate Quartet were the first gospel group to combine non-religious musical genres with traditional negro spirituals. This in turn allowed their music to reach a broader audience. This specific quartet was very popular and had the “crossover appeal”. This quartet was popular during the transitional period and their sound consisted of rhythmic jubilee quartet sounds. The group is definitely well known because my grandparents are familiar and listened to this group. They also participated in national radio broadcasts, films and John Hammond’s historic 1938 From Spirituals to Swing Concert located at Carnegie Hall. Overall, they were influential to the black community and introduced a new sound to nightclubs during this time  and the traditional black church. 


Awards and recognitions:

The golden Gate quartet has received many awards and recognitions. The quartet has specifically influenced other genres of music and been a positive light in the black community. They also were one of the most popular gospel groups and even received the Grammy Hall of Fame award. 


William Langford: William sung as a tenor in the Golden Gate Quartet, but was replaced with Clyde Riddick.

William Johnson: William Johnson was an original group member and was the original baritone of the group. I also learned from class discussion that his son is also Dr. Kevin Johnson. Willie Johnson was influential member of the Golden Gate Quartet and later passed in 1980.

Henry Owens: Henry participated as the second tenor, but later died in 1970. 

Orlandus Wilson: Wilson was the longest standing member and Golden Gate Quartet and the groups bass singer. He joined the group and in 1934 and retired in 1998.


The Golden Gate Quartet was influential group not only in the Gospel era, but in the black community. They brought a new and unique sound to the the transitional period. Overall, I learned a lot about GGQ, but I don’t think their media presence is as strong as it should be. In conclusion, I believe the group should be recognized and talked about more in present day because of the influence they had in this time period.    

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