Throughout the United States, The Jackson Southernaires have become one of America's most outstanding gospel sensations. The group consists of Roger Bryant,Jr., Maurice Surrell, James Burks, Huey Williams and Luther Jennings - the only remaining orginal member.
The group was formed in Jackson, Mississippi in 1940 by Frank Crisler. Early on the group followed in the footsteps of the famous Mississippi Blind Boys, but before long they began to walk in their own distinct style which, although refined, is still evident today. They were the first gospel group in the state to use the guitar, bass, drum and keyboard in their stage performance.
In 1963 the group signed their first recording contract with Duke/Peacock Records. Their first release "Too Late" became one of the company's biggest singles and album. From 1972-75 the group was signed to the ABC/Dunhill Label. The two albums that they recorded for this company "Look Around" and "Save My Child" were both charted nationally.
In 1975 Malaco Records, an independent blues and R&B company, decided to build a gospel label. The rock that they decided to build upon was the Jackson Southernaires. This decision would prove to be pivotal for both parties. In the decade and a half since then, Malaco has established itself as one of the world's top gospel labels, and the Southernaires have become one of the world's top gospel groups.
With the release of their album "Down Home" the Southernaires set the standard by which all other Malaco gospel artists are judged. They have gone on to record 19 top ten albums, of which four have become number one. From these albums have come gospel classics such as: Keep on Praying, Can't Make It By Myself, Prayer Will Change Things, Miracle, Don't Look Down On A Man, I Need You To Hold My Hand, Lead Me, No Tears In Heaven, He Keeps On Blessing Me, and Hear Our Prayers O Lord. Their album entitled, On The Third Day, released in 1989 was ranked one of the groups very best.
The Southernaires are not only performers, but producers as well. They have produced albums by the Sensational Nightingales, J.J Farley and the Original Soul Stirrers, The Williams Family, The Truthettes, The D.R. Curry Memorial Choir, The Evereadys, The Angelic Gospel Singers and The Fantastic Violinaires.
Early on, Malaco gospel was distributed and promoted by TK Productions in Florida. Realizing that it's difficult to oversee an out of state operation, Malaco was prompted to move its gospel operation "in house" to Jackson, Mississippi. The Southernaires were consulted as to who would be the right person to head up this operation. That person was non-other than Franklin Williams, a member of the Southernaires that remained so until his homegoing in March of 1993.
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