Periodically I like to write about great talent in Christian music. Some of the best singers in the world can be found in Gospel music, particularly in the sub-genre known as 'Southern Gospel Quartet Music'--that is, if the singer in question is well-trained.
A study was conducted a few years ago by a major music school at a large university in order to determine which form of music was the most taxing on a singer. The study concluded that Southern Gospel Quartet singing is the most difficult on the voice.
This is due to a variety of factors, including the fact that such singers must perform at least 250 dates per year to make a living and that the nature of the genre is such that great demands are placed on the voice that are not present in other musical genres, such as the ultra-high tenors and the mega-low basses, not to mention that quartet fans want to hear those dramatic endings in which the singers hold a note for an extremely long period, with the tenor reaching the highest levels of the scale and the bass sliding down to double octaves at the other end.
For this reason very few groups make it to the top. There are lots of quartets and trios out there, but only about 25 or 30 or so are successful enough to make a living at it.
You have read my numerous stories about The Cathedrals, the Florida Boys, J.D Sumner and Stamps, Gold City, and others who maintained a consistent level of success for multiple decades. These are excellent examples of the quality it takes to reach the top and stay at the top.
But there are younger groups that have come along who have demonstrated that they, too, have 'the stuff.' One of those is 'Legacy Five.'
And now a short history on how Legacy Five came to be.
When Glen Payne and George Younce of the Cathedrals announced that the year 1999 would be their last on the road, the other guys in the group, Roger Bennett on piano, Scott Fowler on baritone, and Ernie Haas on tenor, had to go to work to plan for their future without the 2 icons whom the fans wanted to see--Glen and George.
As I have written before, Ernie started his own group called 'Ernie Haas and Signature Sound' which has enjoyed booming success, appealing to a much younger fan base while staying true to their southern quartet roots.
But Scott and Roger, who were best friends, decided to go in a different direction, staying with the tried-and-tested 'Cathedral Way' that had given them unprecedented success. And, with the backing of some financiers within Christian circles, some of whom are well-known mega-church Pastors, the two were able to put together a quartet that was worthy to carry on the Cathedral tradition.
Immediately the group was able, through their generous donors, to purchase a bus and garner some high profile venues at which to sing--such as the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia, one of the largest churches in America.
Thus, Legacy Five was born. The group has been known to introduce some of the best singers in Gospel music to the national audience.
The group took a major hit, however, when Roger Bennett died prematurely from leukemia. Roger, in my opinion, was the absolute finest pianist in Gospel music, EVER. And that is saying a lot.
Roger and Scott were the backbone of the quartet, much as Glen and George had been for the Cathedrals.
But, as with George Younce who was instructed by Glen Payne just prior to his death to carry on and fulfill their obligations without him, so did Scott Fowler find a way to carry on without Roger Bennett.
The group has managed to stay at or near the top of southern quartet singing, winning several fan awards at the annual 'Singing News Awards' festival.
These guys are solid. Their stage presence captures the dignity of the legacy Glen and George left behind. And their commitment to Christ, the spreading of the Gospel, and 'walking the walk and not just talking the talk' are clearly evident.
Here is a great example of Legacy Five's music--I Found Grace. Click on the words.