For more than a half a century, no group has secured such a far reaching legacy like that of The
Kingsmen Quartet. Since 1956, this group has risen from humble beginnings in the mountains
of western North Carolina to one of the most beloved and innovative groups in Christian music.
Countless renowned artists have been a part of this great lineage; such as Eldridge Fox, "Big"
Jim Hamill, Ray Dean Reese, Squire Parsons, Johnny Parrack, Anthony Burger, Ernie Phillips,
Gary Sheppard, and a host of others. The momentum has not stopped as this group continues
to help define the Southern Gospel genre for a whole new generation of music lovers, perhaps
more so than any other group.
In the mid-fifties, brothers Raymond, Reese, and Louis McKinney formed a gospel group,
traveling locally throughout the western part of the Carolinas and completing dozens of
recordings by the late 60's. By the early 70's, area natives Eldridge Fox and Ray Dean Reese
joined this emerging quartet and in 1974 released their first live recording, "Big & Live"
consisting of Fox, Reese, Jim Hamill, and Johnny Parrack. This Dove award winning album
brought to gospel music, fresh arrangements and catchy melodies that would later become
southern gospel classics, such as "Gloryroad", "Look for Me At Jesus Feet", and "Love Lifted
Me". This would be the start of many legendary live albums for the Kingsmen. Traveling with a
live band, the Kingsmen became one of few groups during this era to be able to perform with
three to five musicians, granting them individuality and innovation in the industry.
Always seeking to have a creative edge, they began introducing themselves as, "The Ton of
Fun". Through the late 1970's and 80's, more hits were churning from albums such as
"Chattanooga Live", "Live Naturally", & "Live at The University of Alabama". These albums
combined with high energy and up-tempo music brought music lovers an exciting brand of
showmanship. Songs like, "Old Ship of Zion", "Shake Hands with a Poor Boy", "Beautiful
Home", "Saints Will Rise", and "Child, Child" became gospel music staples. In 1981, "Excuses"
became the Kingsmen's biggest hit of that era; it was steady at number one for 18 months,
making it the longest running number one song in Southern Gospel Music history.
The successes of The Kingsmen have led to many prestigious opportunities. In 1977, The
Kingsmen performed on the south lawn of the White House for President Jimmy Carter and in
1982 they performed at the opening ceremony of the World's Fair in Knoxville, TN which was
broadcast on local and regional TV, with President Ronald Regan present to open the fair. The
Kingsmen was also the first group to film and record a live performance at the famous Grand
Ole Opry in Nashville and in 2000 they were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame
followed by the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2008. They've garnered multiple dove awards
and numerous Singing News Fan awards including favorite bass vocalist, tenor, baritone, lead,
instrumentalist, video, the 1992 favorite song "Wish You Were Here" as well as favorite album
by the same name, male quartet of the year, and group of the year. The Kingsmen band was
voted favorite band a record 17 times making this quartet one of the most awarded groups in
Southern Gospel Music.
"The key is to never lose sight of what we are working towards" says Ray Reese, Kingsmen
manager and bass singer. "We tour year in and year out to spread our music to people across
the country. Our music has a message, the message of Christ. Every night we work to bring His
message to our audience. Our goal is to see people saved through Jesus Christ whether we're
singing indoors, outdoors, in an auditorium, church or studio recordings ". Today the Kingsmen
consist of 2008 hall of fame inductee, Ray Dean Reese, his son Brandon Reese, Randy
Crawford, Bob Sellers, and Chris Jenkins.
Dove Award Winners
Singing News Fan Award
Individual Singing News Fan Awards
Numerous Band of the Year Singing News Fan Awards
Gospel Music Hall of Fame 2000 Inductees
Old Fashion Gospel Singing South Lawn The White House
Countless Number One Songs
Grand Ole Opry
About the Harper Agency
Over the years, the Harper Agency has taken an active role in marketing gospel music to major concert halls, festival events, churches and state fairs across the country, garnering network television exposure, and have been very instrumental in the development of Christian music events at major theme parks such as Opryland, Six Flags Over Georgia and Dollywood.
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