Arthur Rice is well recognized in the Southern Gospel music industry and is currently the President of the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Arthur was born in Asheville, North Carolina on December 27, 1962. Arthur began singing with his family, the Rice Trio, when he was only three years old. At the age of seven, Arthur started playing bass for the group, and would eventually sing lead for the group when he was 14. He went on to sing with the Pilgrims and the Payne Family before being discovered by Eldridge Fox and the Mighty Kingsmen Quartet, who hired him as lead singer and bass player for one of the great eras of The Kingsmen until his departure in 1989.
In 1990, Arthur was reunited with two former Kingsmen - Hall of Famers Squire Parsons and Ernie Phillips in a group called Squire Parsons and Redeemed whom he sang with for five years. His next move would place him at the forefront of gospel music when he become the lead singer of Dollywood’s own Kingdom Heirs in 1995. In 2022, Arthur celebrated 25 years with Kingdom Heirs, who became one of America’s favorite male quartets during his tenure. He now serves as Minister of Music for Trinity Baptist Church in Asheville, North Carolina.
Arthur was elected President of the SGMA in 2013 and has faithfully served in that capacity, continuing to promote and preserve the history of Southern Gospel Music. He was inducted into the SGMA Hall of Fame in 2022.
Gary Casto, Vice President, has served in a leadership position for the SGMA since 2000.
When Gary was only seven years old, The Calvarymen Quartet sang at his home church. Squire Parsons and Conrad Cook were with them then. After hearing Squire sing “Gloryroad,” Gary fell in love with Southern Gospel music.
He began singing with a local group in 1984 before starting his professional career with The New Revelation Quartet in 1986. During his career, he has sung with several groups, including The Southmen Quartet, The Harvesters Quartet and several others.
Many fans, however, first became acquainted with Gary when he joined The Wilburns. Today, Gary is the lead singer and manager of Tribute Quartet, a group he helped found.
Gary joined the SGMA team as a member of the Advisory Board in 2000. He later moved up to the Board of Directors, and has served as Vice President for the last eight years.
In addition to the SGMA, Gary served many years on the board of the Southern Gospel Music Guild (SGMG) and is a current board member of the National Quartet Convention. He brings to us a vast knowledge of the industry, and vital managerial skills. For the last twenty-three years, Gary has faithfully served the SGMA through both challenging and rewarding times.
Gary says, “My vision for the SGMA would not only be to seek out new avenues of preserving the heritage while promoting the future of this great organization but there is also ample opportunity to educate those clueless of the history and pioneers of this great genre.”
The SGMA is fortunate to have Gary Casto on our team!
Karen Peck Gooch
Karen Peck Gooch is the soprano for the five-time Grammy nominated, eight-time GMA Dove Award winning group, Karen Peck and New River. KPNR has impacted the Gospel Music industry for 30 years and counting. Karen Peck Gooch was inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 2018 and the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 2021. She received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Divinity from Toccoa Falls College in 2016.
Karen began her professional career in Southern Gospel Music in 1980 when she joined Alphus LeFevre and The LeFevres. In 1981, she started traveling with The Rex Nelon Singers and remained with them for almost 10 years.
In January 1991, Karen, husband Rickey, and sister Susan formed KPNR. Over the years Karen Peck and New River has become a family affair, as Karen and Rickey’s daughter, Kari, and son, Matthew are full-time group members. Matthew’s wife, Preslee serves as the product manager. Karen’s sister, Susan Peck Jackson, and Grant Gibson complete the talented vocal group.
A leader among the Southern Gospel Music industry, Karen has served on the Board of Directors for Abraham Productions, a promotion company that hosts multiple Christian music cruises and concert events each year. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Southern Gospel Music Association. She was the first woman to be named President of the SGMA and served two terms as President. Karen has served as keynote speaker at multiple women’s conferences. In 2012, Karen received the Susan Unthank Memorial Award, presented by AbsolutelyGospel.com, honoring women for major contributions to Southern Gospel Music. Karen serves as co-host of the weekly television program, Gospel Music USA, which showcases many of the leading names in Southern Gospel Music.
In 2012, Karen played a feature role in the hit film, Joyful Noise, appearing with Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah. She was the lead singer on the popular song from the movie soundtrack, “Mighty High.” In 2014, she followed up the appearance with a role in the PureFlix film, Redeemed.
Karen’s main desire in this life is to sing songs of mercy and grace to reach the world for Jesus Christ.