BMI affiliates Elvis Presley, Larry Norman, Albertina Walker, Wendy Bagwell & the Sunliters and The Rambos are included in the latest class of Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductees, it was announced recently by The Gospel Music Association (GMA). The induction ceremony, to be held on Tuesday, November 27 at 7 p.m, will be open to the public and staged, for the first time, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
The GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame was established in 1971 and has inducted 122 members since its inception, including Andrae Crouch, Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Oak Ridge Boys, Petra, Mahalia Jackson, Thomas A. Dorsey, the Fairfield Four, Billy Graham and the Jordanaires. Selection into the Hall of Fame is made by approximately 300 members of the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame electorate, who each have at least 10 years experience in the gospel music field.
Following are highlights of the careers of the newest inductees:
- Elvis Presley may be celebrated as the "King of Rock N' Roll," but his true musical love was gospel music as he recorded more than 50 gospel songs throughout his well-known career. Among Presley's classic renderings were "He Touched Me," "Without Him," "How Great Thou Art" and "Peace in the Valley," which he performed on the "Ed Sullivan Show." His three Grammy wins were for gospel recordings. Presley's ties to the gospel music community include four Gospel Music Hall of Fame members - The Jordanaires, The Imperials, The Speers and The Stamps -- all back-up groups for Presley.
- Larry Norman is arguably the "Father of Jesus Rock," known for the classics "I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music,” and “Moses." Norman was a member of the Capitol Records mainstream rock band People, which recorded the 60's hit "I Love You." After People broke up, Norman recorded four seminal albums of Christian rock between 1968 and 1976. The editors of CCM Magazine voted Norman's album Only Visiting This Planet the most influential Christian album of the past 20 years. Norman's music was an unlikely mix of love songs, the gospel message, and wry commentary on American culture.
- Albertina Walker formed the world famous Caravans before moving on to phenomenal success as a solo artist, recording her first project “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” in 1975. To date, Walker has recorded over 60 albums, including hits such as the gold-selling “Please Be Patient With Me,” “I Can Go to God in Prayer,” and “Joy Will Come.” She still enjoys an active recording career, often lending her talents to the projects of other artists in addition to her own. Walker earned many awards and honors through her six decades of service to gospel music. Among them are a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Album for Songs of the Church, two Stellar Awards and multiple Gospel Music Workshop of America Excellence Awards.
- Wendy Bagwell & the Sunliters began performing together in 1960. Comprised of Bagwell, Jerri Morrison, Jan Buckner and Charlie Beatenbo, the group had numerous hits including "Here Come the Rattlesnakes." Despite their humble beginnings in rural Georgia, the group evolved into an internationally recognized ensemble, whose ministry knew no boundaries of age, race, religion or creed. Much of their success, which encompassed more than three decades and 100 recordings, can be attributed to their unique blend of song and laughter. Bagwell died in 1996.
- The Rambos, comprised of husband and wife Buck and Dottie and daughter Reba, began their illustrious careers in the 1950s, starting out as the Singing Echoes. The Rambos were one of the first trios to break down barriers in southern gospel music, which until that time had been dominated by quartets. "We Shall Behold Him,” “He Looked Beyond My Fault” and “Sheltered in the Arms of God" are just three of the group's many hits. The Rambos recorded more than 60 albums and were known for their incredible family harmonies and Dottie's rich songwriting talents. Whitney Houston recorded Dottie's "I Go to the Rock" for the Preacher's Wife soundtrack. "I Go to the Rock" won the 1998 Dove Award for Traditional Gospel Recorded Song and Houston presented Dottie with her honor at the 1998 awards show.
Founded in 1964, the 5,000-member Gospel Music Association is dedicated to educating the public and the music industry concerning the mission and role of gospel music in today's world. The Gospel Music Association also produces the Dove Awards, which recognizes achievement in all genres of gospel music and is the premiere television awards show for the contemporary Christian and gospel music industry. For more information about the Hall of Fame and to order tickets, call 615-242-0303.