- The Golden Gate Quartet
The Golden Gate Quartet (aka The Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet) is the most successful of all of the
African-American gospel musicgroups who sang in the jubilee quartet style. Fact|date=December 2007 Founded as the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet in Norfolk, Virginiain 1934by Robert Ford, A.C. Griffin, Willie Johnson, William Langford, Henry Owens and Orlandus Wilson. They began as a traditional jubilee quartet, combining the clever arrangements associated with barbershop quartets with rhythms borrowed from the bluesand jazzlike scat singing.
The makeup of the group changed over the years, as some members were drafted during the war and new members were brought in to replace those who had retired or left to join other groups. William Langford joined the group when Griffin left in 1935 and Orlandus Wilson replaced Ford the same year. Clyde Riddick replaced Langford in 1938, Johnson left in 1948 to join "The Jubalaires" and Owens left the group later to become a preacher and solo artist. Riddick remained with the group until his retirement in 1995 and Wilson until his death in 1998.
The Gates had a broad repertoire of styles--from Owens' mournful, understated approach in songs such as "Anyhow" or "Hush, Somebody's Calling My Name", to the group's highly syncopated arrangements in "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego". Like
The Mills Brothersof popular music, they would often include vocal special effects in their songs, imitating train sounds in songs such as "Golden Gate Gospel Train". Langford often sang lead, using his ability to range from baritone to falsetto, while Johnson narrated in a hip syncopated style that became the hallmark for the group. Wilson's bass served as the anchor for the group and Owens harmonized with Langford and Johnson.
They achieved regional fame through their
radioprogram in Columbia, South Carolinain the 1930s. They became nationally popular after John Hammond presented them as part of the 1938 extravaganza "From Spirituals to Swing" in Carnegie Hall. In 1940, Langford left to form a new group, The Southern Sons, and Clyde Riddicktook his place. They soon had a nationwide radio program, appearances at Café Societyin 1940 and the opportunity to sing at Franklin Delano Roosevelt's inauguration in 1941, becoming the first black musical group to sing at Constitution Hall. They continued to be popular during World War Two, making several appearances in Hollywoodfilms and singing secular music, including some unique popular front songs such as "Stalin Wasn't Stalling" that mixed humor with political commentary.
The quartet lost their preeminent position in gospel music after the war, when they faced competition from the newer hard gospel quartets. They continued in their old style, offering sharper political commentary in songs such as "God's Gonna Cut 'Em Down", but losing much of their audience to quartets such as
the Dixie Hummingbirdsand the Soul Stirrers. Johnson left for the Jubilairesin 1948, and Owens departed in 1950 to become a preacher.
The Golden Gates revived their career in 1955, however, when they toured
Europefor the first time, where they became widely popular. The group moved to Paris in 1959 and has continued touring, primarily in Europe, since then. During his stint in the US Army, in Germany, Elvis Presley, who was a huge admirer of their work since his early childhood, visited them backstage at "Le Lido", in Paris, and stayed to watch their entire show, staying also with them at the hotel "Prince de Galles".
The Quartet appeared in films such as "
Star Spangled Rhythm" (1942), " Hit Parade of 1943" (1943), " Hollywood Canteen" (1944), and the Danny Kayefilm " A Song Is Born" (1948). In the latter film, they performed the songs "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" and part of "A Song Is Born" with Louis Armstrongand Virginia Mayo.
The Golden Gate Quartet was inducted into The
Vocal Group Hall of Famein 1998.
* 2003 - "The Good Book"
* 2003 - "Gospel Train"
* 1997 - "The Very Best of the Golden Gate Quartet"
* 1957 - "That Golden Chariot"
* 1956 - "The Golden Gate Quartet [Camden] "
* 1950 - "The Golden Gate Spirituals"
* [http://www.clydewright.com Clyde Wright official website]
* [http://www.cultd.net/goldengate The Golden Gate Quartet official website]
* [http://www.singers.com/gospel/goldengatequartet.html The Golden Gate Quartet] discography and biography excerpts on [http://www.singers.com/ singers.com]
* [http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/golden_gate_quartet.html 'The Golden Gate Quartet' Vocal Group Hall of Fame Page]
* [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1327933 The Golden Gate Quartet at IMDB]
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