The Origins of Golden Gate Quartet

Johnny en Rijk een paar apart show, “The Golden Gate Quartet” *29 december 1964

There are so many elements that come together to make a beautiful sound into a beautiful song. When everything comes together without any instruments, just cappella when there is just raw talent being shown it is one of the most breathtaking things one could ever possibly hear. Just how when a Jubilee Quartet ensemble comes together the sound has layers of voices and hidden harmonies and sounds that make the ensemble sound even better.When you just hear the four to six part harmony arranged together while focusing on the percussive and rhythmic style. This week I want to focus on the origins of The Golden Gate Jubilee Singers which was formed in 1934. One of the most interesting facts about the group is the changes in membership over the years. That just shows that good groups and good music go on forever.

Founded in 1934 by four students (Willie Johnson, William Langford, Henry Owens, and Orlandus Wilson) from Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia. A year after they were formed, 1935 they were singing in churches, and then in 1936, the group was heard on the WIS  radio station in Columbia, South Carolina. In 1937 the group ended up getting a contract with Bluebird Records. 

Recording of one of their most popular songs : Anyhow (1941)

Fun Facts about the Gate Gate Jubilee Quartet Group 

  • On August 14, 1937, after their first recording session, they ended up recording a total of fourteen songs in two hours even when they were on contract to record twelve tracks a year. 
  • In 1940 they signed a contract with Columbia Records and shortened their name to the Golden Gate Quartet. 
  • The group sung at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1941 is the first black musical group to do so and later performing at the white house several times after the fact. 

A performance by the Golden Gate Quartet live from Yugoslavia in 1967 : 

Here’s a link to their Greatest Hits :

During their very successful career, they were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.



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