Golden Gate Quartet
Golden Gate Quartet
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 Abendigo. Like The Mills Brothers of 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 radio program in Columbia, South Carolina in the 1930s. They became nationally popular after John Hammond presented them as part of the 1938 extravaganza From Spirituals to Swing in Carnegie Hall, which led to a nationwide radio program, appearances at Cafe Society in 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 Hollywood films 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 Hummingbirds and the Soul Stirrers. The Golden Gates revived their career in 1955, however, when they toured Europe for 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 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 Golden Gate Quartet has been inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998 Read more on Last.fm.
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