By John Crenshaw
I recently received a copy of The Cathedral Quartet – The Early Years: Legends of Southern Gospel Music written by Bobby Clark. Clark was the original tenor singer for the Cathedral Quartet and brings a unique perspective to their formation and the early days of the group. Several years ago, Glen Payne and George Younce wrote their own books about this legendary quartet, and it’s nice to read yet another man’s recollections of the early days of the Cathedrals.
Mr. Clark gives the reader some of his personal background both in his family life as well as his career in gospel music. Bobby sang with quite a few groups prior to his singing with the Cathedral Quartet, and he gives the reader some insight into his involvement with groups such as the Rangers Quartet, the Oak Ridge Quartet, the Deep South Quartet, and the Weatherford Quartet.
Clark also tells the story about being offered the first tenor position with the Statesmen Quartet after the death of Denver Crumpler. He also explains why this never happened and includes telegrams from Hovie about the situation. It’s an interesting story that I’ll let you discover for yourself when you read the book.
The book documents many of the struggles faced by a new quartet as they face life on the road. It also discusses family situations that affect decisions that could change a person’s life forever.
The Cathedral Quartet – The Early Years is full of pictures . . . many of which have never been previously published. I was especially intrigued seeing the actual telegrams that Hovie Lister sent to Bobby trying to convince him to join the Statesmen Quartet.
The book is less than one hundred pages, and many of those pages are packed with pictures. Bobby also gives his personal opinion about the future of gospel music. I can’t say that I totally agree with his assessments, but it is an interesting take on gospel music today.
If you’re interested in the formation of one of the most popular groups in the history of gospel music, you would enjoy Mr. Clark’s book The Cathedral Quartet – The Early Years.
John Crenshaw hosts the “Remembering Gospel Music History” forum on the SGM Radio Message Board where he asks daily gospel music history questions about people and events in gospel music of the past. He also hosts a monthly segment, “Remembering Gospel Music History with John Crenshaw” on the “Southern Styles Show”, a nationally syndicated weekly radio show featuring southern gospel music hosted by Rob Patz.
John is a staff writer for the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion and historian for the SGMA Hall of Fame. John has been a contributing writer to several gospel music magazines. He is currently writing two books about the history of gospel music.