Fred E. Daniel

Fred E. Daniel (1925 – 2007)
Inducted 2008

Fred Daniel, born March 29, 1925, was a true pioneer with a career covering practically all aspects of the entertainment world.

Fred spent the early days of his career singing baritone with the Covington, GA based quartet, The Happy Four, formed by lifelong friend, Happy Edwards. Fred left the Happy Four in 1949 and began his sixteen year tenure with one of the most versatile groups in the country, The Sunshine Boys.

During Fred’s years with The Sunshine Boys, he appeared with the group in a number of Charles Starrett B-Western movies. The Sunshine Boys were pioneers in recordings beginning with transcriptions and moving all the way through to CD’s, movies, and radio, performing on WSB Barn Dance in Atlanta and WWVA Wheeling Jamboree in the late 40s and early 50s. The group recorded over 800 songs for Langworth Transcription Agency in New York which were syndicated on over 600 radio stations all over the world. In 1951, The Sunshine Boys recorded, along with Red Foley, the first gospel record to top a million in sales entitled, “Peace In The Valley”, which at present, is still marketed today. The Sunshine Boys did five shows a week on ABC radio network for six years, sponsored by Minute Rice. The Sunshine Boys performed at The Golden Nugget on the strip in Las Vegas. Such accolades were due not only to their ability to sing spiritual quartet music with expertise, but also their versatility in performing country, western, pop, and jazz music as well. Fred’s melodious and enthusiastic tenor voice was featured on The Sunshine Boys hits such as “How Long Has It Been”, “Satisfied”, “Dig A Little Deeper”, and “Remember Me”.

In 1965, Fred joined the Blue Ridge Quartet in Spartanburg, SC. Some of the best years for the Blue Ridge Quartet were with Fred, as his exciting style captured audiences on songs such as “I Wanna Go There” and “Somebody Touched Me”.

Fred was the recipient of the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion’s Living Legend Award in 1995. Along with The Sunshine Boys, Fred was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame, and received the Pioneer Gospel Award of the 23rd Annual Society of Entertainers. The Sunshine Boys were also honored in 1983 in the Walkway of the Stars in Wheeling, West Virginia. Fred Daniel and Eddie Wallace were co-recipients of the Dub Taylor Award, an award presented to performers in western movies.

Polly Grimes

Polly Grimes
Inducted in 2008

Polly Grimes has pioneered gospel music productions in the Western United States, major entertainment capitals and internationally, beginning in 1960. She was the first to introduce gospel music in major venues on the West Coast, and the first business woman to promote gospel music.

Born in Oklahoma, Polly moved to California at an early age where she majored in music and business, sang as a soloist and with her family quartet, and served as a choir director. She knew early in life that she wanted to make a difference in the world and believed that God had a calling and destiny for her that involved gospel music.

Her professional entrance into the music world was in the secular world where she organized a trio who performed with various pop artists; one of their songs surfaced on the regional secular music charts. She was involved in the promotion of a number of major hits including, “Young Love.”

However, gospel music continued to be her true calling; consequently, at the appropriate time, she adapted her knowledge and personal experience to the Christian world and started a promotion and production company, GOSPEL CONCERTS. Her first gospel concert was at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium in 1960, featuring the Blackwood Brothers and Statesmen. She then expanded the concerts in 17 states and internationally. “Introducing gospel music was challenging in California, as people were more secularly inclined than in most parts of the country, and many churches were uncomfortable with the idea of religious music packaged and presented as professional entertainment. We had to define what the music was, get people excited about it, and at the same time cut through misconceptions. However, my vision was so focused I did not take time to dwell on any possible obstacles. This was a time of forging new frontiers and of high enthusiasm; the driving force, was knowing that I was helping to create something new that could bring people both joy and the light of God’s Word.”

She has also presented gospel music at some of the most prestigious auditoriums in Israel, as well as having produced a number of gospel music videos from the Holy Land. She was first to present a gospel music cruise. “It has been a rewarding journey!”

Herschel LuMeart Lester

Herschel LuMeart Lester (1927 – 2004)
Inducted in 2008

Herschel LuMeart Lester was born March 6, 1927, in Maplewood (St. Louis,) MO, the only child of Harvey and Opal (Bobo) Lester. He was saved at a young age at an Old Fashion Brush Arbor Camp Meeting in Goldsboro, NC where the family was singing. His early childhood was spent with his parents playing and singing Gospel Music on the street corners and churches in the St. Louis area. This laid the foundation for the Lester Family group that is currently singing and ministering today.

Herschel Lester became an accomplished musician and singer and was a huge part of the Lester Family and Band as it was known in those days. In World War II, Herschel enlisted and served in the Navy.

Herschel Lester earned a degree in teaching and did just that until his passing in March 2004. He was a music and band director in both the St. Louis and East St. Louis Public School Districts. With a total of 50 years of teaching, needless to say, he influenced and touched the hearts of thousands of people. Herschel taught private music lessons at the family music store everyday. One of the highlights of Herschel’s life was when he and his mom were asked to help teach a singing school for the late Governor Jimmie Davis in Peckerwood Hill, Louisiana at the Jimmie Davis Tabernacle. In the late 1960s Herschel also taught at the Stamps School of Music held in Waxahachie, Texas.

The Lester Family Gospel Music Ministry was mostly done on weekends because Herschel and his father held down full time jobs, while Opal and Alene (Herschel’s wife) worked at Lester Music Store and Studio.

Herschel Lester’s life was music. Through the years one of Herschel’s most requested songs to sing was “Thanks To Calvary.” The Lester Family has shared many great experiences led by the patriarch of the family, Herschel Lester. They had a weekly Gospel Music TV show in the Midwest for 27 years. The Lesters hosted several tours to the Holy Land and stateside bus tours in the 70’s, and cruises to the Bahamas in the 80’s. Herschel loved to travel and sing with his family and countless friends.

Squire Parsons

Squire Parsons (1948 – )
Inducted in 2008

Squire Parsons was born April 4, 1948, a native of West Virginia he was raised in a Christian home and was introduced to gospel music as a baby by his parents. His father, Squire Parsons Sr., was a choir director in their home church and taught shaped note gospel music. Squire attended West Virginia Institute of Technology, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in music in 1970.

In 1975, he became the baritone singer for the Kingsmen Quartet. In 1979, Squire went into solo ministry. Since 1978, Squire Parsons has been nominated by the Singing News Magazine for numerous awards. He was named “Favorite Baritone” in 1986 and 1987. In 1986, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995 he was named “Favorite Gospel Songwriter.” In 1988 he was named “Favorite Southern Gospel Male Singer.”

In addition to being one of America’s best loved soloists, Squire is a prolific songwriter. In 1981, his song, “Sweet Beulah Land” was voted “Favorite Song Of The Year”. Other gospel classics written by Parsons include: “Master Of The Sea”, “Oh What A Moment”, “The Broken Rose”, “He Came To Me”, “I Call It Home”, “I Sing Because”, “Hello Mama”, “I’m Not Giving Up”, and “I Go To The Rock”. He has also been nominated for the DOVE AWARD for male vocalist and songwriter. Many gospel recording artists and groups have recorded at least one of his songs.
In 1990, he was presented the coveted MARVIN NORCROSS AWARD. Parsons has also been a part of the popular “Gaither Homecoming” video series. Mr. Parsons was ordained at his home church, Trinity Baptist, in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1979.

Luther G. Presley

Luther G. Presley (1887 – 1974)
Inducted in 2008

Luther G. Presley was born on Beckett Mountain in Faulkner County, Arkansas on March 6, 1887. He began the study of music at the age of 14 in a primary singing school conducted by M. W. Beckett. He soon became the church choir director. In 1905, he began the study of harmony and composition with J. D. Patton and R. Edwin Perry of Alabama. He later studied harmony, counterpoint and voice with Dr. J. B. Herbert, L. B. Leister, W. W. Combs and Dr. J. H. Ruebush, Dean of Shenandoah College in Dayton, Virginia. Under this last teacher he had the distinction of being the only student who made 100 percent on every subject included in the final examination.

Mr. Presley was particularly proud of the fact that he studied Hymnology with James Rowe, who was the author of 25,000 poems, including that great hymn, “Love Lifted Me”.

At the age of 18, he taught his first singing school and also wrote his first song. It was published by the Showalter-Patton Company in 1907. From the time he began teaching, evangelistic singing, and writing songs, he taught approximately 200 singing school and wrote approximately 1500 songs. Mr. Presley was associated with the Central Music Company of Little Rock, AR., for 14 years and the Hartford Music Company for two years. In 1930 he opened the Pangburn branch for the Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Company of Dallas, Texas and served as the General Manager until shortly before his death in 1974 at the age of 87. In 1937,

Luther G. Presley penned the words and V.O. Stamps wrote the music to “When the Saints Go Marching In”. This song was adopted by the New Orleans Saints football team as their theme song in the 1960s. The inspiration for his songs came from various experiences and events in his life. For instance Presley wrote “I’ll Have a New Life” after attending a Sunrise Easter Service in which the minister closed his resurrection message with the ringing declaration “I’ll have a new body, I’ll have a new life.” Later that day he penned the song. He thought “I’d Rather Have Jesus” was his best song, however, several years after his death, “It’s Shouting Time In Heaven” has become one of the most popular songs heard on radio and TV and other media today having been used 4158 times in one quarter as reported by BMI.

Ray Dean Reese

Ray Dean Reese (1939 – )
Inducted 2008

Ray Dean Reese was born in the mountains of North Carolina on May 16, 1939, to Rev. Herbert A. Reese and Nellie Rice Reese. From the time he was a young boy he wanted to sing gospel music.

He sang in his first quartet when he was fourteen along with some of his friends from church. Before he could drive, his father would take him downtown to the Asheville City Auditorium where he would sweep the entire building from the previous night’s event in order to gain admittance to that evening’s all night gospel music concert. There was a corner balcony seat from which he could overlook the bass singers that were performing that night such as the Big Chief with the Statesmen and others.

As he grew older, Ray started to attend local singing schools with his friends Rex Nelon and London Parris. After graduating from Clyde A. Erwin High School, Ray spent several years in the US Army. Upon his return from service in Germany, he returned to Fort Jackson, SC where he became a drill sergeant.

In the mid 1960’s, Ray received a call from his friend Eldridge Fox asking him to join the Kingsmen. His first tenure with the Kingsmen was in the middle sixties. He returned in the late 1960’s to the quartet as they continued part time until the group went full time in the early 1970’s. The Kingsmen have performed at the White House, the Grand Ole Opry and on many other prestigious stages. They are the recipients of numerous Dove Awards along with countless Singing News Fan Awards.

Ray was the recipient of the Singing News Fan Award for favorite bass in 1979 and in 1985. His voice can be heard on over 150 different albums and well over 1500 songs. In 2000, he was inducted with the Kingsmen into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame.

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