By 1946, the Hummingbirds were again recording, cutting sides for labels including Apollo and, later in the decade, Gotham and Hob. Genres: Gospel, Traditional Black Gospel. In their early teens they sang in the Bethel Church of God in the junior chorus. During the ‘30s the group went through a succession of bass singers until Jimmy Bryant of the Heavenly Gospel Singers joined in 1939, just as the group signed to Decca Records. After earning a standing ovation for their performance at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival (captured on the Gospel at Newport LP), the Hummingbirds essentially retired from mainstream appearances to focus solely on the church circuit. Ira Tucker, Sr. died due to complications from heart disease on the morning of June 24, 2008, at the age of 83. It became famous when Ira Tucker became its lead singer in 1938 and the group signed with Decca Records, ushering in the hard singing style of gospel music's 1940s and 1950s golden age. The original Dixie Hummingbirds performed together for more than 60 years. Swan Silvertones great Claude Jeter also spent some time with the group in the ‘50s. Tucker also took the lead in the stylistic innovations adopted by the group, combining gospel shouting and subtle melismas with the syncopated delivery made popular by The Golden Gate Quartet, as well as adventuresome harmonies, which the group called "trickeration", in which another member of the group would pick up a note just as Tucker left off. [1], These recordings proved successful and the Hummingbirds were back in the Billboard charts. The Dixie Hummingbirds Before bringing out The Birds, LaDiva Davis read the names of some of the members that have passed including William Bobo, Beechy Thompson, James Walker, and Paul Owens. All Rights Reserved. He was on his way to a radio broadcast with fellow members of the Dixie Hummingbirds … Willie Bobo, one of the legendary gospel basses and the Heavenlies’ bass that night, also joined the Dixies soon after. Also that same year the group obtained the lead singing services of Ira Tucker of Spartanburg, South Carolina. They made their recording debut in 1939 on Decca Records. They went out to Texas the sign and record with Peacock Records under Don Robey. After their 70th Anniversary many of the members retired, all but one, Ira Tucker. [1] In 1946, The Hummingbirds signed a record deal with Apollo Records, a growing New York Based label. One night the Carriers competed in a battle of the gospel groups against the Dixie Hummingbirds and the Heavenly Gospel Singers. Bryant abruptly left after clashing with the group. In February 2008, the first feature-length documentary/concert film featuring the life and history of the Dixie Hummingbirds was released in commemoration of their extraordinary eighty years as performers. Past members: James Davis (1916-2007) (founder), Ira Tucker (1925-2008) (lead singer), Willie Bobo, Jimmy Bryant, Barney Gipson, Claude Jeter (1914-2009), J.B. Matterson, Fred Owens, Paul Owens, Barney Parks, Beachy Thompson, James Walker, William Henry (bass) (1922-1997), Howard Carroll (1924-2017) guitarist, Willie Coleman, bass guitarist and vocals He was 77. The Dixie Hummingbirds: Eighty Years Young has been shown on the Gospel Music Channel and has played at numerous film festivals. Soon Fred Owens became the bass and the group became the Sterling High School Quartet. Possibly the world's greatest Gospel group, the Dixie Hummingbirds (who recently celebrated their 70th anniversary) have managed to keep the sound of modern Gospel vital in popular music, and have been hugely influential in both the secular and the non-secular world. They recorded for both labels and did not have any hits from either label. Recruiting some of his fellow choir members from the Bethel Church of God in Greenville, South Carolina, James Davis initially formed them as the Sterling High School Quartet. The inital members … Under names like the Swanee Quintet and the Jericho Boys, the Dixie Hummingbirds also regularly appeared on Philadephia radio station WCAU; it was as the Jericho Boys that they auditioned for the legendary producer John Hammond, who in 1942 booked them into the Cafe Society Downtown, then the Greenwich Village area’s preeminent showcase for black talent. The Dixie Hummingbirds. Gospel group founded in 1928 by 12 year old James Davis and his classmates. They became the inspiration for countless R&B and soul singers, from Jackie Wilson and Clyde McPhatter to Bobby “Blue” Bland and The Temptations. [3], On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed The Dixie Hummingbirds among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. Since that was how ours career seemed to be going [laughs], I figure that was a good name, and the guys went along with it[1], The Hummingbirds traveled around the South singing spirituals. A pioneering force behind the evolution of the modern gospel quartet sound, the Dixie Hummingbirds were among the longest-lived and most successful groups of their era; renowned for their imaginative arrangements, progressive harmonies and all-around versatility, they earned almost universal recognition as the greatest Southern quartet of their generation, and their influence spread not only over the world of spiritual music but also inspired secular artists ranging from Jackie Wilson to Bobby “Blue” Bland to the Temptations. Davis changed the name to the Dixie Hummingbirds. Davis recalls how they changed their name to the Dixie Hummingbirds: I figured that was the only bird could fly both backwards and forwards. The original Dixie Hummingbirds were together for 35 years. Tucker had been influenced by the Norfolk Jubilee Singers, and his mixture of gospel and blues added a versatility to the Dixies’ style that helped make them leading black Southern quartet. 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