Meet The Soul Stirrers

By Camille Adams-Lonzer

The Soul Stirrers were a gospel quartet that was started back in 1929. In 1930 when Silias Roy Crain joined, they changed their name to the Soul Stirrers. Other members of the group consisted of J.J Farley, Rebert H. Harris (R.H Harris), Sam Cooke, Johnnie Taylor and many others. While the group sang mostly gospel music they went on to influence soul, R&B and doo wop. They used techniques like trading lead vocals between two singers and sustaining melodies against the groups steady beat to create syncopated tension to help create this unique sound that is imprinted on music we know and love today. The groups songs were also known to be filled with emotion and beautiful harmonies which was a large part of the gospel period in jubilee history. In addition, the lead singers would sing for longer amounts of time allowing them to put more creativity into the music which was another large part of the gospel period. The first lead singer of the group was R.H Harris He was known for his high tenor voice that he used masterfully to create stunning highs and lows throught the music. In the 50’s when Harris left the group he was replaced by Sam Cooke. Even though both leads sounded similar Sam Cooke became the most famous group member. In fact the Soul Stirrers launched Sam’s solo career. Although the group would go through more replacements and changes, the impact they left on the music industry would last forever.

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Fun Facts!

  • The Soul Stirrers survived into the 90’s even though most of the original singers had been replaced


  • They were inducted into the hall of fame in 1989

  • They have multiple songs logged in The Library of Congress

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