Doris Akers

Doris Akers (1923 – 1995)
Inducted in 2011

Benefactor: Friends Of The SGMA

Doris Akers, born in Brookfield, Missouri, on May 21, 1923, was one of ten children. She learned to play the piano by ear at age six and by age ten had composed her first song. By the time she was twelve, she had organized a five-piece band that played music of the 1930's.

When she was only 22 years of age, she moved to Los Angeles, where she encountered a thriving gospel music community. She met several outstanding musicians, such as Eugene Douglas Smallwood, who greatly influenced the gospel music career of this young African-American lady. A year later, Doris joined the Sallie Martin Singers as pianist and singer. Two years later, with Dorothy Vemell Simmons, she formed the Simmons Akers Singers and also launched a publishing firm called Akers Music House. Many artists, including the Stamps Baxter Quartet, Bill Gaither, Statesmen, and Mahalia Jackson, have recorded Akers’ songs. Countless other Southern Gospel Music groups still record and sing her music. Millions of church members have sung her songs, which have long been published in many hymnals.

She was a recording artist, music arranger, choir director, and songwriter and was awarded Gospel Music Composer of the Year for both 1960 and 1961. She was honored by the Smithsonian Institution, which labeled her songs and records National Treasures. Her most noted composition, without a doubt, is Sweet, Sweet Spirit. She was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Until the end of her earthly life, Doris Akers believed that God wanted His children to pray. Her songs have circled the globe, aiding Christians of all nationalities in their worship of the heavenly Father. She passed away on July 26, 1995, in Minneapolis.

Doyle Blackwood

Doyle Blackwood (1911 – 1974)
Inducted in 2011

Terry Blackwood – Friends Of The SGMA

Doyle Blackwood, born in 1911, was captivated early on by the familyís love of music. He learned to play guitar and mandolin and even practiced voice projection from the top of tree stumps near the family home in rural Choctaw County in Northern Mississippi. Doyle and his brother James worked diligently at the Clear Springs Church Singing School near their home. Their talent was noted and they quickly found themselves singing in a quartet with their teacher Vardaman Ray singing lead and Gene Catledge singing bass.

Soon, the Choctaw County Jubilee Singers became quite popular in their area of Mississippi. They sang in the area for about a year and Mr. Ray contributed a great deal to the professionalism that the young Blackwoods continued throughout their career. Doyle and James ventured out locally with the Choctaw County Singers. In 1934, Roy, the brother of Doyle and James, moved back to Choctaw County and, with that move, the Blackwood Brothers Quartet was formed.

The 23 year old Doyle sang bass and played the guitar. The Blackwood Brothers Quartet disbanded in late 1935 and Doyle began to teach singing schools and sang briefly with the Homeland Harmony Quartet. When the Blackwoods reunited in 1937, Doyle gave up his stint with the Homeland Harmony Quartet to rejoin his brothers. At this time, the Blackwoods were using only Doyleís guitar as the sole accompaniment for the group. V.O. Stamps felt that the group needed a pianist, so he assigned Joe Roper to be the first pianist for the quartet. The year was 1939. The Stamps organization had provided the Blackwoods with a pianist, an automobile, and a steady income of $18.50 per member each week. Doyle retired from the quartet in the late 40’s and managed the Blackwood Brothers Record Shop in Memphis. He later sang with The Memphians Quartet with his son, Terry, and Verle Pilant, Chalmers Walker and Jack Marshall.

Bob Brumley

Bob Brumley
Inducted in 2011

The Bob Brumley Family:
Wife – Tudy: Daughter – Elaine & husband Brad – Son – Bobby & wife Jane – Daughter – Betsy & husband Kevin – Grandsons Trey, Caleb, Reagan & Colton

Robert “Bob” Bartlett Brumley was born December 7, 1937. He is one of the most respected men in Southern Gospel Music today. He is known for his honesty, integrity, hard work and undying love for his father and mother – and devotion to Southern Gospel Music. He proudly carries on the tradition of keeping alive the music of his father, the late Albert E. Brumley, the pre-eminent gospel songwriter of the 20th century with over 600 published songs.

Bob continues publishing shape note songbooks, something the companies of Albert E. Brumley & Sons/Hartford Music have been doing since the early 1900s. Bob gained control of the company in the early 1980's. Since that time, he has seen the Gospel songs his dad wrote, and the company owns, recorded by virtually every music genre. In addition, major movies, including O Brother, Where Art Thou and The Apostle, used Brumley’s I’ll Fly Away. Bob also continues to promote America’s largest summer gospel music event, “The Albert E. Brumley Memorial Gospel Sing”, which was established by his father in 1969. This event gives many of the major artists a popular showplace to perform and showcase their music. In 1990, Bob co-founded Integrated Copyright Group in Nashville, TN. He was the recipient of the James D. Vaughan Impact Award in 2006. He served as president of the Southern Gospel Music Association 2007-2009 and currently serves on its Board of Directors.

Roy Carter

Roy Carter (1926 – 1998)
Inducted in 2011

Benefactor: The Chuck Wagon Gang

Roy Carter was born March 1, 1926 in Calumet, Oklahoma, one of nine children of Dave and Carrie Carter. While Roy was just a young boy, his father transformed the family’s fortunes from poor migrant laborers to Gospel Music singing legends by taking three of his oldest children, Ernest, Rosa, and Effie, and launching a career on KFYO radio in Lubbock, Texas.

A year later, the Carter Quartet had moved to WBAP in Fort Worth and became known across the nation and around the world as the Chuck Wagon Gang. They began their recording career with Columbia Records – the company they would record for over the next four decades. Few groups in Southern Gospel has made a greater impact on the industry or touched more people than has the Chuck Wagon Gang. In 1952, Roy took over the role as bass singer for the Chuck Wagon Gang. Roy’s arrival came at an important turning point in the group’s history. The Chucks had recently begun making personal appearances, after years of being almost exclusively a radio and recording quartet. With Dad Carter now past the age of sixty, the role of manager and emcee was quickly thrust upon Roy. It was a job that Roy would fill admirably for the next forty years. He led the Chuck Wagon Gang into the mainstream of Southern Gospel touring, all the while following his father’s stage advice to keep the sound simple and build on the tradition that had made the group popular in the first place. Roy also wrote several popular gospel songs; among them Iím Going to Rise Up and Meet Him in the Air, The Early Morning Hours and My Wonderful God. Roy retired from singing and touring in the early 1990's and passed away of a heart attack in 1998.

Kenny Gates

Kenny Gates
Inducted in 2011

Benefactor: Wife: Cindy
Daughters: Donna, Bonnie, Tami, Jeannie – The Lewis Harrison Family

Kenny Gates was born in a small cotton mill village at Long Shoals, just south of Lincolnton, NC on November 3, 1930. When he was five years old, he had an interest in gospel music and sang in local churches accompanied by his mother at the piano.

At age 10, he began taking piano lessons and attending numerous singing schools learning the shape note system of reading music under the direction of Professor Paul Collins, a representative of the Vaughan Music Company. In 1949, he joined the Blue Ridge Quartet where he spent his entire career as a professional pianist. During that time, in addition to playing the piano, he was composing and arranging for the group. Two of his most popular compositions are Sinner Come Home, co-written with Elmo Fagg and No Disappointments In Heaven, co-written with George Younce. Kenny appeared on most of the Blue Ridge Quartet's hundreds of recordings, radio and television programs, and personal appearances. His piano playing was featured on the entire Gospel Singing Caravan syndicated TV programs seen on over 50 stations across the United States. During his career, he has received several awards, including the "Living Legend Award" and the "Piano Roll Of Honor" from the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion. He was inducted in 2008 into the South Carolina Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame.

Jerry Kirksey

Jerry Kirksey
Inducted in 2011

Benefactors: Wife – Carolyn
Sons – Brett – Kenneth
Daughter-in-law Debra

Jerry Kirksey was born June 13, 1940. In March of 1960, at age 19, Jerry began his career in Southern Gospel Music, working in the Florida Boys Quartet office. He had been working in radio for two years when Les Beasley hired him to work with the Florida Boys in radio promotions.

In the years between 1964 and 1969, colossal growth in several areas of the J.G. Whitfield organization resulted in new opportunities for Jerry’s development. His first promotion was to manager of Jubilee Enterprises, a concert and product promotion company. Jubilee Enterprises was the forerunner of the Singing News. In 1969, Jerry was given the job of creating and running the Singing News, which began as a tabloid newspaper. The first issue was printed in May 1969. He served as Editor-in-Chief for 41 years.

In 1970, Jerry created the first national radio chart for Southern Gospel music. He created the Singing News Fan Awards in 1971. As editor of Singing News, he was involved in all areas of the industry. He served on the board of directors of the original Gospel Music Association, and served on the board of the original SGMA of Georgia. He was involved in organizing the Southern Gospel Music Guild and the Southern Gospel Music Association. He was actively involved in the building and development of the SGMA Hall of Fame and Museum in Dollywood, and he designed the SGMA Hall of Fame bronze plaques. He created the SGMA award and the James D. Vaughan Impact Award, as well as the James D. Vaughan Quartet Festival. Jerry’s full-time service in Southern Gospel Music spanned from March 1960 – June 2011.

Opal Lester

Opal Lester (1906 – 1999)
Inducted in 2011

Benefactors: Friends Of The SGMA

Born November 23, 1906, Opal “Bobo” Alene Lumeart played the old-fashioned pump organ for a small Baptist Church in Hayti, MO. She met Harvey B. Lester in 1922. On December 7, 1924, they were married and moved to St. Louis, MO. In 1925, they started what is now a Gospel Music Ministry in its 86th year, spanning 4 generations. Harvey and Opal had one child, Herschel Lumeart Lester, who fell right into beat with his parents, playing all musical instruments, singing and even became a teacher later in life. The Lester’s loved being together as a family, singing and playing Gospel Music wherever they went.

Opal was a wonderful teacher and taught hundreds of private music lessons every year from their music store in St. Louis, even up to the weeks just before she passed away in April of 1999 at age 92. She loved to promote Gospel Concerts in different venues around the St. Louis area such as: The St. Louis House, The Keil Opra House, The Kingsland Theater, The Shrine Mosque in Springfield, MO and, of course, Meramec Caverns in Stanton, MO. People like J.D Sumner, James Blackwood, Hovie Lister, Glen Payne, George Younce, Jerry Goff, Ed O’Neal, Duane Allen, Joe Moscheo and countless others knew they could call Bobo Lester in St. Louis and she would try her best to get a crowd to hear them sing.

Opal was also responsible for her family having a weekly thirty minute television show on the NBC affiliate KSDK in St. Louis. The family recorded four pilot shows and the response was so great, The Lester Family Sings was on the air for 27 years. She joins her beloved husband, Harvey B. Lester, and son, Herschel L. Lester, in the SGMA Hall of Fame, being recognized for pioneering the Gospel of Christ with her family in Gospel Music Ministry. The Lesters, now 3rd and 4th generations, continue to travel and sing.

“Little” Willie Wynn

“Little” Willie Wynn
Inducted in 2011

Benefactors: Mona & Leah Caradine
Tennesseans & Sweetwater

Willie Wynn was one of the originators and tenor singer with the Oak Ridge Boys for 15 years. After his tenure with the Oak Ridge Boys, Willie spearheaded two other fabulous groups, Willie Wynn & the Tennesseans and Sweetwater. Willie is a lifetime member of the Gospel Music Association and has received many awards, including the coveted Dove Award, Grammy Award, and in 1996 he received the Living Legend Award at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion. Willie is known as “The Man with a Million Friends,” and he is called the Tenor Singer’s, Tenor Singer. He has traveled the world singing, appearing on several network TV shows. He has been a major influence in the gospel music industry, with his unique style of singing and audience appeal. He has been featured at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion, as well as the Gaither Homecoming Videos. On October 30, 2000, Willie was inducted with the Oak Ridge Boys into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

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