Yesterday, in the comments section, we had an interesting discussion about singers who came into a group, replacing another singer, and went on to have a career that would land them in the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame. It would be quite an interesting exercise to quantify this phenomenon. How many SGMA Hall of Fame singers were replacement singers when they joined the group that would ultimately launch them into the Hall of Fame?
- Replacements (50): Glen Allred (Florida Boys), Les Beasley (Florida Boys), Roger Bennett (Cathedrals), Anthony Burger, Roy Carter (Chuck Wagon Gang), Denver Crumpler (Statesmen), Fred Daniel (both Sunshine Boys and Blue Ridge), Happy Edwards (Harmoneers), Neil Enloe (Couriers), Elmo Fagg (Blue Ridge), Eldridge Fox, Gloria Gaither, Kenny Gates (Blue Ridge), Smitty Gatlin (Oak Ridge), Jim Hamill (Kingsmen), Herman Harper (Oak Ridge), Jake Hess (Statesmen), Connie Hopper (Hoppers – maybe not replacement but also not founding member), Jimmy Jones (LeFevres), Harold Lane (Speer Family), Bill Lyles (Blackwood Brothers), Rex Nelon (Nelons), Duane Nicholson (Couriers), Ed O’Neal (Dixie Melody Boys), Doy Ott (Statesmen), London Parris (both Rebels and Blackwood Brothers), Squire Parsons (Kingsmen), Jack Pittman (Palmetto State Quartet), Naomi Sego Reader (Segos), Ray Dean Reese (Kingsmen), Tim Riley (Gold City), Rosie Rozell (Statesmen), Bill Shaw (Blackwood Brothers), Dale Shelnut (Dixie Echoes), Erman Slater (Rangers), Marion Snider (Stamps), Ben Speer (Speers), Derrell Stewart (Florida Boys), J.D. Sumner (both Blackwood Brothers and Stamps), Billy Todd (Florida Boys), Jack Toney (Statesmen), Wally Varner (Blackwood Brothers), Big Jim Waits, James D. Walbert (Vaughan Radio Quartet), Lily Weatherford (Weatherfords), Big Chief Wetherington (Statesmen), Gerald Williams (Melody Boys), Willie Wynn (Oak Ridge Quartet)
- Founding Members of their groups (55): Buford Abner, Wendy Bagwell, Doyle Blackwood, James Blackwood, R.W. Blackwood, Dwight Brock, “Dad” Carter, Martin Cook, Anna Davis, John Daniel, Wally Fowler, Bill Gaither, Danny Gaither, Jerry Goff, Lil Jan Buckner Goff, Rusty Goodman (Goodmans), Howard Goodman (Goodmans), Sam Goodman (Goodmans), Vestal Goodman (Goodmans), Connor Hall, Bill Hefner, Joel Hemphill, Kenny Hinson, Arnold Hyles, Vernon Hyles, Bob Jones, Rose Carter Carnes, Charles Key, Lillian Klaudt, Alphus LeFevre, Eva Mae LeFevre, Urias LeFevre, Harvey Lester, Herschel Lester, Opal Lester, Pop Lewis, Hovie Lister, Fred Maples, Geraldine Morrison, Rosa Nell Speer Powell, Buck Rambo, Dottie Rambo, Mary Tom Speer Reid, Ace Richman, James Sego, Dad Speer, Brock Speer, Mom Speer, Frank Stamps, Bobby Strickland (Statesmen / Crusaders), Archie Watkins, Earl Weatherford, J.G. Whitfield (Florida Boys / Dixie Echoes)
- Mixture (6): Ed Hill (founder with Prophets / replacement with Stamps), Jim Hill (founder with Golden Keys / replacement with Statesmen), Glen Payne (founder with Cathedrals / replacement with Weatherfords), David Reece, Henry Slaughter (founder with Imperials / replacement with Weatherfords), George Younce (founder with Cathedral Quartet, sort of / replacement with Weatherfords and Blue Ridge)
- Not sure (2): Joe Roper, Eddie Wallace
- Not applicable (soloists or primarily known for non-performing role in genre) (41): Lee Roy Abernathy, Doris Akers, Robert Arnold, Eugene Bartlett, Ma Baxter, J.R. Baxter, Albert E. Brumley, Bob Brumley, Charles Burke, Jimmie Davis, Cleavant Derricks, Vep Ellis, Polly Grimes, Stuart Hamblin, Lou Hildreth, Jerry Kirksey, Don Light, Mosie Lister, J.A. McClung, Otis McCoy, Lady Mull, J. Bazzel Mull, Marvin Norcross, W.B. Nowlin, Lloyd Orrell, Adger M. Pace, O.A. Parris, Luther G. Presley, William M. Ramsey, Anthony Showalter, Arthur Smith, V.O, Stamps, Ira Stanphill, Maurice Templeton, Benjamin Unseld, Charles Wesley Vaughan, Glen Kieffer Vaughan, James David Vaughan, William Walbert, Charlie Waller, R.E. Winsett
So, among performers, it looks like it’s roughly half and half Hall of Famers who founded the groups that took them to the top and Hall of Famers who replaced another singer.
But a straight half-and-half split is an oversimplification. As a quick scan of the list reveals, most of the Hall of Famers in the Replacements list are quartet men, while most of the family group singers represented in the Hall of Famers list were founding members.