I promised to write another blog about trio’s soon, well I wrote the first one yesterday, so if this isn’t soon enough, you are way too needy!
I mentioned some great ones already, and yet still some of the best is yet to come! Let me start with this first group/trio. These guys sang with the best quartet’s in that day! J.D. & The Stamps Quartet, Hovie Lister & The Statesmen and the The Speer Family! You Southern Gospel scholars know what trio I am referring to. Indeed you do! I’m talking about VOICE! Donny Sumner, Tim Baty and Sherrill Nielsen! They apparently gotten their name through Elvis Presley who supposedly read a New Age book entitled ‘Voice’. Elvis liked them so much that they recorded with him, and did live shows backing the King up alongside of The Stamps, Sweet Inspirations and soprano Kathy Westmoreland! VOICE would open the show, and were featured on the show as a group too! On more than one occasion they would sing “Killing Me Softly” written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel. Fox also wrote the theme song of the show “Happy Days”. Anyway as I said before, Elvis (the ultimate Fonzie) liked them so much, he recorded some great studio moments with this threesome. Songs like “Sweet Angeline”, and the poignant “Are You Sincere” Tim Baty baritone of VOICE wrote the country tinged song “Thinking About You” and VOICE backed Elvis up on this recording. My favorite song Elvis did with VOICE ‘s got to be “Love Song of The Year”…a wonderful, and underrated song in Elvis’ oeuvre! VOICE made one studio album entitled “Distilled Gospel”. This album was produced by Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys, and it was fine! My favorite singer out of the group is Tim Baty! Tim Baty was such a different, and therefore unique singer! Their tenor singer Sherrill Nielsen, is one of the few tenors I can stand to listen to for an extended period of time! Donnie Sumner had also a different tone than many! These guys were hip…modern...and sophisticated veterans already! Listen to VOICE sing…just listen;
I’ve got nothing to add….Donnie Sumner sang in a trio before this outfit! He sang with another Elvis alumni Jim Murray! Jim sang with The Imperials for a lot of years! And subsequently sang, and recorded with Presley! This trio Donnie and Jim sang with was completed by baritone Byron Burgess who had sung previously with the Harmoneers Quartet. This trio was named the Stamps Trio and here’s a clip from that short-lived group
Ever since I heard Jim Murray sing “All My Life” on the “One More Song For You” album by The Imperials I was enormously influenced by him. Another singer who sang with a trio for a little while and infuenced me was my buddy Michael English. Michael sang with a Kentucky based trio called The Couriers Unlimited. They made one album only, and it was a great one too. This was prior to Michael’s stint with the Gaither Vocal Band, and in between two stints with The Singing Americans. On this album we are offered a sneak peek into what was to come.
Another trio that had a wonderful sound when they stormed the scene in 1993 was Brian Free & Assurance. Brian Free along with Mike Lefevre left Gold City and teamed up with Kevin Price. Don’t know what happened to Kevin Price, I never heard from him since he left the group in 1995. Their debut album is one of the finest albums in my collection, and produced by Michael English! There is not one bad song on that album. The following clip features my favorite cut from that album and it features Kevin Price.
The Statesmen Quartet folded their tents in 1974, their bass singer James S. Weatherington had passed away in 1973 and they never really recovered from that. In 1977 however after a surprise visit of Jake Hess, Doy Ott and Rosie Rozell to Hovie’s church in Marrietta GA, they decided to get back together and form a trio. They made a few albums, did a few concerts. They were actually very good, and they still had that Statesmen sound even without the legendary bass of ‘Big Chief’. Take a listen here;
Stay tuned for more trio’s in my next post, I will include some mixed trio’s as well, and maybe even an all women trio…who knows?