The Heart of Tennessee in the Spirit of Memphis Quartet

- The Spirit of Memphis Quartet -

The Spirit of Memphis Quartet were a gospel quartet founded in Memphis, TN, in 1927. Through the 1930’s and 1940’s, The Spirit of Memphis Quartet were regarded as one of the leading gospel quartets that were based in the South. They were often featured on radio broadcasts and published many hit records throughout their run as a group. While they were certainly celebrated in their hometown of Memphis, the Quartet also gained recognition on tours through cities such as Detroit and Pittsburgh. Their sound, which shifted beyond the realm of gospel music into secular territory, was considered an early take on doo-wop and what would become rock-n-roll music. The Spirit of the Memphis Quarter reached their height in the late 1940’s when they signed to King Records – the same record label that gave James Brown his start through their subsidiary Federal Records. The Spirit of Memphis Quartet has gone through cycles of members – the most recent being in the early 2000’s. Throughout their time as a group, the Quartet was known for hits such as “He’ll Never Let Me Fall” and “Surely, Surely, Amen.” 

Original/Key Members: 

James Darling

A.C. Harris

Burt Perkins

Joe Hinton

 

James Peoples

Arthur White

Luther McGill

Arthur Wright

 

Other Members: 

Willmer M. “Little Axe” Broadnax         Jethro “Jet” Bledsoe Sr.        Silas Earl Steele Jr. 

Earl D. Malone        Robert J. Reed          Fred Howard         James Keels 

Mose Hill         Elijah Jones         James Harvey         Gus Miller         Horace Fisher

James Strong         Sam Miller         Freddie Johnson         Ramond Sanders

Herman Paul         Lewis White         Robert Crenshaw         Melvin Mosley         Brother Theo “Bless My Bones” Wade

- Performances and Songs -

- Discography -

If I Should Miss Heaven  (LP, 1961) 

Legend of the Spirit of Memphis, Randy’s Spiritual (LP, 1968) 

Lord Jesus (LP, Unknown) 

Traveling On High Water (CD, 1997) 

Happy in the Service of the Lord (1949 – 1954) (CD, 2005) 

- Legacy -

As mentioned earlier, The Spirit of Memphis Quartet left a strong legacy behind through their unique sound which helped developed the rise of doo-wop and rock-n-roll music. In the 1960’s, one of their key members, Joe Hinton, branched off and became an accomplished soul singer. At their rise, they were regarded as one of the highest paid jubilee quartets, and the group were even able to survive the decline of traditional gospel quartets in the 1950’s and 60’s. In 2005, one of the Quartet’s members, Melvin Mosley, celebrated the Spirit of Memphis Quartet’s legacy and long-standing influence by releasing a live CD of a new cohort that performed in Michigan. Today, fans of the Spirit of Memphis Quartet can revisit the Quartet’s singles through online music databases, as well as contained radio broadcasts that are still accessible from the 1940’s and 50’s.  

Tierra McClain

Tierra McClain

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