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gospel group, Memphis
Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2001)

One of the oldest continually active African American gospel groups in the country, the Spirit of Memphis Quartet was founded in 1930. During their first few years, they were among the only black musical groups prominent on local radio. As a capella quartet singing surged in national popularity, the Spirit of Memphis took the name of their hometown across the country, regularly singing, as they did at home, in church and auditorium programs. After World War II they also enjoyed a successful recording career for many years, experiencing personnel changes which brought into the group some of the most renowned singers in the quartet genre. In recent decades the group has remained active under the able leadership of Melvin Mosley, performing often in local programs and heritage music events.

Governor’s Arts Award profile

Media

  • Happy in the Service of the Lord (1949-54), Acrobat 3007 (CD, 2005)
  • Traveling On, High Water HMG 6507(CD 1997)
  • Lord Jesus, Nasha LKP-001 (LP)
  • Legend of the Spirit of Memphis, Randy’s Spiritual (LP 1968)
  • If I Should Miss Heaven, Peacock PLP 109 (LP 1961)

More Information

  • Cummings, Tony, “Spirit Of Memphis Quartet: Tracing the history of a classic gospel group,” Music & Life, April 2010.
  • Hayes, Cedric J., and Robert Laughton, Gospel Records 1943-1969 (London: Record Information Services, 1993), pp. 697-700.
  • Lornell, Kip, “Happy in the Service of the Lord”: Afro-American GospelQuartets in Memphis</strong> (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988).
  • ——-, “Successes of the Spirit,” in Ted Olson and Anthony P. Cavender, eds., A Tennessee Folklore Sampler: Selections from the Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin (1935-2009), (Knoxville: Univeristy of Tennessee Press, 2009). pp. 292-96.
  • Young, Alan, “Moving With the Spirit,” Rejoice!: The Journal of Traditional Southern Gospel Music 5, #1 (Winter 1994): 3-8.
  • ——-, Woke Me Up This Morning: Black Gospel Singers and the Gospel Life (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1997): 67-77.
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