Charles Burke (1936 – 2011)
Inducted in 2012
Benefactor: The Charles Burke Family
Charles Burke was born Sept. 18, 1936, in Catawba County, North Carolina, with a heart and love for gospel music. From the time he was a child, he sang in church and was singing in a Southern Gospel Quartet by the age of 18. He was the original baritone singer for the Pine Ridge Boys in 1963. He owned and operated the Singing Americans for the majority of that group’s existence from the late 1970's through the early 1990's.
As owner of The Singing Americans, he helped singers like Danny Funderburk, Ivan Parker, Clayton Inman, Rick Strickland and Michael English to the forefront of Southern Gospel Music. He also helped launch the Reggie Sadler Family and the Dove Brothers Quartet. Through the years, he devoted countless hours and support to the industry. For several decades, he was a behind-the-scenes member of the Southern Gospel industry through owning Tape Corporation of America (with his son, Michael Burke), as a board member of the Southern Gospel Music Association and the National Quartet Convention. The rights to the Kingsmen Quartet name were transferred to Burke in 2002 by the group’s heirs. He transferred ownership of the group name to Ray Dean Reese two years later. His many business ventures blessed him with countless friends who will cherish his vibrant personality and gift for story-telling. His generosity and love of people is best expressed through the ministry of Burke Mortuary where he served as president. Charlie passed away on September 23, 2011.
Carl Stuart Hamblen
Carl Stuart Hamblen (1908-1989)
Inducted in 2012
Benefactors: The Hamblen Family
The Spencer Family
Born on October 20, 1908, in Kellyville, TX, the son of a traveling Methodist preacher and founder of the Evangelical Methodist Church, Dr. J.H. Hamblen. His career as a Country Western Gospel singer, composer, and radio-movie personality all began in 1926, on radio station WBAP in Fort Worth, TX, where he became radio broadcasting’s first singing cowboy.
In 1949, Stuart and his wife Suzy attended a prayer meeting where a young man named Billy Graham was there to speak to the group. Stuart ended up promoting Billy’s tent crusade on his popular radio show, and when Stuart became a Christian at one of the meetings, the L.A. Examiner posted the front-page headline, Singer Stuart Hamblen Hits Sawdust Trail at Revival. Stuart Hamblen’s songs include such hits as: It Is No Secret, This Ole House, Texas Plains, How Big Is God, Blue Bonnets, My Mary, Until Then, Teach Me Lord To Wait, Your First Day In Heaven, Dear Lord, Be My Shepherd, He Bought My Soul At Calvary, I’ve Got So Many Million Years, Open Up Your Heart (And Let The Sunshine In) , Remember Me, These Things Shall Pass, Known Only To Him.
Some of Stuart’s achievements:
- 1926 – Became radio broadcasting’s first singing cowboy, on WBAP, Ft Worth, TX
- 1931 to 1952 -Had #1 radio program in the West
- 1945 – First man to fly a horse by plane 1949 – Accepted Christ as his Savior at the very first Billy Graham Tent Crusade, Los Angeles, CA
- 1950 – Wrote “It Is No Secret” 1952 – Ran for President of the United States
- 1954 – Billboard’s Song of the Year: “This Ole House” (#1 song in 7 different countries at the same time)
- 1970 – Inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame
- 1972 – Recipient of the Academy of Country and Western Music’s Pioneer Award
- 1976 – Received a Star on the Hollywood Blvd Walk of Fame
- 1994 – Inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame
- 1999 – Inducted into the Western Music Association’s Hall of Fame
- 2001 – Inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.
James Vaughn "Jim" Hill (1930-2018)
Inducted in 2012
Benefactors: Dean Hickman
Jim Hill, grew up in Portsmouth, Ohio. He studied opera and auditioned with the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and the Metropolitan Opera Company. However, his background in church music prevailed, and he continued in his quest to perform gospel music with a group known as the Campmeeting Boys. The original members were Jim Hill, Harold Patrick, and John Conley.
In 1947, a fourth member was added to the group and they became known as the Golden Keys Quartet which was a long-standing weekend quartet. Their programs often showcased the exciting tenor vocals of Jim Hill on sacred classics such as The Ninety and Nine, I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked, God Bless America and The Stranger of Galilee. The group performed many top gospel songs of the day, but their real forte was performing the new compositions of Jim Hill. Jim Hill wrote the gospel music classic, What a Day That Will Be in 1955. It was first recorded by the Homeland Harmony Quartet.
Soon many other professional gospel quartets added the song to their programs. Jim Hill felt the calling to full time gospel music, and accepted the call from Doyle Blackwood to join the “New” Stamps Quartet in 1962. He continued his career with the Stamps Quartet for several years before joining Hovie Lister and the Statesmen Quartet as lead singer. He brought several of his top songs to the Statesmen Quartet. They soon became some of the most requested songs on the Statesmen Quartet programs. His songs such as Each Step I Take, For God So Loved, No One Ever Cared So Much, and I’ll Make it to Heaven are gospel music classics. He was nominated for a Dove Award as Songwriter of the Year in 1969. Jim’s great tenor voice and stage presence made him one of the finest communicators in the history of gospel music.
Geraldine Morrison (1935 – 2005)
Inducted in 2012
Benefactor: “Little” Jan Buckner
In 1954, Wendy Bagwell joined together with Geraldine (Jerri) Morrison and Georgia Jones to form the Sunliters. “Little” Jan Buckner replaced Georgia Jones about 1958. Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters went on to become one of the premier Southern Gospel groups in the nation, remaining together for 38 years without a personnel change. They won world-wide acclaim for their Gold Record in 1970 “Here Come The Rattlesnakes” which was the first certifiable million seller in gospel music, and was nominated for a Grammy in 1994 for their “Tell It Again” album. They were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001. They were presented the Showmanship Award from the United States Government (Performance Tour in Europe and North Africa); National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences; Best T. V. Commercial Nationwide Wall Street Journal Front Page Recognition (Snap Back with Stan-Back Ad Campaign). Jerri was a one woman rhythm section with her tambourine, cascabel, and other percussion instruments and was affectionately called “Ol Leather Lungs” by Wendy, who credits her powerful voice for what he calls the fact that hardly nobody knows I can’t sing.
Inducted in 2012
Benefactors: Jonas & Anne Beiler
Dan & Nancy King, Bill & Ramona Stone, Wife-Mae, Daughter-Reba & Family
Buck Rambo was born September 15, 1931 in Dawson Springs, Kentucky to a family of 13 children in the midst of the Great Depression in an area of great poverty. But because he had Godly parents he never knew he was poor. He started traveling full time in 1953 with his group the Gospel Echoes changing their name to The Singing Rambos when his 13 year old daughter Reba joined the group.
In 1964, the group signed with Benson’s Heart Warming label recording over 60 albums. It is said throughout the industry, Buck was the sound in the Rambos. Buck has probably sung on as many hit Gospel songs as anyone in Gospel music. In the 60’s and 70’s, it was not unusual for the Rambos to have two or three songs on any given Gospel Music chart at one time, with most landing in the Top Ten. He was the founder and President of The Singing Rambos, Rambo Music, and the Rambo Evangelistic Association. Buck was one of the founding fathers of the GMA (Gospel Music Association) and member of the GMA board. The Rambos received countless Dove Awards and were nominated for many Grammys as well. They were inducted into the GMA Hall of Fame in 2001. Buck was one of the first to take Gospel Music to the military and war torn Vietnam. Buck has written one book, “The Legacy Of The Rambos.” He is a licensed and ordained minister and while most people know him for his singing, he is also a very dynamic preacher of the Gospel. Ministering in churches has always been Bucks greatest joy!
Milton H. “Ace” Richman (1916-1999)
Benefactors: Daughter-Toni Caldwell
Charlie Waller, Mona and Leah Caradine
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 14, 1916, Ace Richman began playing musical instruments and singing at a very early age. As a teenager, he formed a swing band known as the Hottentots and began playing in clubs in the Cincinnati area. He became proficient on several instruments, including the tenor banjo, tenor saxophone, and bass fiddle.
In early 1938, Richman met a set of brothers, John O. “Tennessee” Smith and A. L. “Smitty” Smith and, with them, formed a country-western group known as the Red River Rangers. Together with Pat Patterson, the Smith brothers and Richman took a job in Macon, Georgia, in 1939 on WMAZ radio. It was there that they acquired the name The Sunshine Boys and adjusted their repertoire to include gospel music. When Eddie Wallace replaced Pat Patterson in the group in January 1943, The Sunshine Boys moved more to the gospel field and added a syndicated country-western show entitled The Light Crust Doughboys, sponsored by the Light Crust Flour Company. This show was broadcast daily on 33 southern and mid-western radio stations from Atlanta, Georgia to Dallas, Texas.
By 1943, the Sunshine Boys had moved to Atlanta and were appearing regularly on radio station WSB. In this earliest combination of the group, Richman sang bass and, on country-western numbers, played the bass fiddle. In 1949, Richman and Eddie Wallace reorganized the quartet more solidly behind the four-part harmony style that is today known as Southern Gospel. With the Smith Brothers having left the group for a career in songwriting and local television, Ace and Eddie hired Fred Daniel to sing tenor and J.D. Sumner to sing bass, moving Richman up on the scale to sing the baritone part. Wallace, who had previously sung baritone, now took the lead part and played piano. As a lifelong member of the Sunshine Boys, Richman contributed markedly to the group's history and also to the development of Gospel Music in the South. The Sunshine Boys performed on Atlanta’s legendary WSB Saturday Night Barn Dance on the radio, and appeared on the city’s first live television show on WSB-TV.
He also sang on the 1951 Decca recording of Peace in the Valley by Red Foley and the Sunshine Boys, recognized as the first gold record in Gospel Music history. In addition, he appeared in 19 Western films with famous Hollywood cowboy stars, including, Eddie Dean, Charles Starrett, Kirby Grant, Lash Larue, and Smiley Burnette. On his passing, Ace Richman was remembered by his peers as a solid professional and also as a true friend who, underneath his gruff exterior, had a heart of gold and a generous side that was known more behind the scenes than out in front.