1921 - 2002
Born in the poverty-stricken coal mining hills of north Alabama, Howard Goodman refused to let such a humble beginning hinder his passion for gospel music. After working as an evangelist during the 1930's and into the 1940's, Goodman formed his family singing group, putting together versions of the Goodmans featuring various combinations of his brothers and sisters, Sam, Charles (Rusty), Bobby, Ruth, Eloise, Stella and Gussie Mae.
Howard married Vestal Freeman, an aspiring Opera singer and sister of noted gospel tenor vocalist Cat Freeman, in 1949. Eventually, the Goodman Family became known as the Happy Goodman Family. A new cast, consisting of Howard, Vestal, Sam and Rusty, along with various other family members providing instrumentation, captured the eyes and hearts of Southern Gospel Music fans in the l960's, '70's and into the '80's with a hard driving, high energy sound.
The Happy Goodmans recorded numerous hit songs and received three Gospel Music Association Dove Awards and two Grammy Awards.
Possessing one of Southern Gospel's most soulful lead voices and distinctive piano-playing styles that featured him throwing his hands up and down on the ivories as his large frame crouched over a keyboard, Howard Goodman provided a foundation for the famous Happy Goodmans sound.
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