I have lately renewed my desire to share some great reading about our great genre of music. Some of these books may be out of print, however it’s amazing what you can find on eBay and in used book store. Some however are readily available in stores and online in places like Amazon.
These books are not necessarily in the order of how much I enjoyed them, but more of what order I found them in my bookcase. So, here we go…..
1. Close Harmony – Goff – This is one of the most complete books on the history that I have ever read. Its accuracy is superb.
2. The History Of Gospel Music – Burt/Allen – Written a little earlier than Close Harmony it doesn’t go quite as for into current history, but has a very personal effect because one of the writers is Duane Allen Lead singer of the Oak Ridge Boys who adds real passion to the writing.
3. Bad Boy Of Gospel Music (The Calvin Newton Story)- Cheatham – This one is personal to me as Calvin and I are related. The book is pretty close to the stories my Dad told me about Calvin, but it also explains that what happened to Calvin is the same story that happened to many young guys who got into Gospel Music before they had a sure foundation of Salvation and were caught up by the snares of this world. But, it also give his testimony of how he did come to meet the Lord after the errors of his way. Couldn’t put this one down.
4. Skid Marks On The Road Of Life – Downing – This book is full of smiles and tears as Ann Downing takes us through her life as a Gospel singer and group owner. She openly talks about he joys of being married, yet doesn’t hide the trials she and Paul also lived through. Your heart will break as she talks about Paul leaving this world far too young. This book too is hard to put down once you start reading it.
5. Gospel Music Encyclopedia – Anderson/North – This is one of those books you may have to find in eBay or in a used book store, but if you can find it… grab it. Full of insightful information and you will find that every historical book of music has just a little different few of the same history it is talking about. It’s another great book on the history of our great genre of music.
6. It’s More Than The Music – Gaither – Ever wonder about the story of how Bill and Gloria got together, or about how that first song come to be? This book shares a lot of the story behind the Gaither dynasty. It’s a really good read.
7. The Men Of Music – Terrell – One of the very first books I ever read on the history Gospel Music. Again there are some different perspectives of what was happening in the beginning of this music, but it all ties together and keeps your knowledge growing. This is one of those books that may be hard to find also, but keep looking for it, you will like it.
8. Hear My Heart – Easter – Personal stories have a way of grabbing your heart, and Sheri Easter does just that as she shares the loss of a loved on and the struggles she went through in her battle with cancer. It’s not all sad, when she tells of how she met Jeff and they got married there may even be some laughing out loud.
9. Our Final Quarter – Kyllonen/Nicholson/Enloe – Anytime a group can last 5 decades with basically the same personnel, something special is going on. With the exception of Phil Enloe, Neil’s brother, joining the group at various times, this group has remained the same group of guys for over five decades. That has to be a record of some sort. Follow them through their entire ministry to all their mission trip and their ministry her in the States. Read about a different kind of ministry than most Gospel groups, yet the great respect attained by these guys in the industry.
10. After All These Years – Davis – The story of the Hoppers. You will learn how this group of brothers went from the Hopper Brothers to the Hopper Brother s with Connie, to the Hoppers. See how Claude and Connie got together and married as well as how Dean Hopper managed to snag Kim away from her family group and what a heart rendering decision that was. If you like the Hoppers, you will love this book. You will read of the transformation of the group when Connie join and another transformation when Kim joined the group. It’s a fascinating story.
11. Hold On (A Biography of the Greenes) – Collins – This book is about the success of the Greene kids and how they quickly rose to be a household name in Gospel music, but managed to remain successful after that old thing called love and marriage got a hold of Kim and she left to join her husband, Dean in the Hoppers family group. When God is in control ministries continue in spite of hard circumstances.
12. Nothin’ But Fine – Hess/Hyatt – We are down to the last two books I have read recently and I must say I have enjoyed them as much as any I have read. First, I have always been a Jake Hess fan. Though I never got to meet him for more than just a handshake, all the stories I ever heard about Jake were very positive. Not one bad word every was heard about this man Jake Hess. Well, if you have ever tried to get your hands on a copy of this book co-written by Jake, good luck, because it’s nearly impossible to find. I think I finally found my copy at one of those booths at NQC. Telling of his rise for poverty to his claim to fame in Gospel music is a story that I could stop reading once I started. Jake gives us a clear view of the hardships these men in the early days suffered through to give us the glorious music we listen to today. Those guys didn’t ride on fancy air-conditioned buses and stay in fancy motels. They didn’t have guaranteed salaries, and they didn’t sleep until noon only to go to the next concert. You will read how these early pioneers of Gospel Music worked morning to night and still took the time to perfect their craft. It’s an easy read and you won’t want to put the book do0wn until it is finished.
13. The Cathedral Quartet (The Early Years) – Clark – One of my favorite all-time groups is the original Cathedral Quartet. Bobby Clark was a Tenor’s Tenor, Glen Payne was second to none as a Lead singer, George Younce is considered one of the best Bass singers to cross a stage, and Danny Koker was one of those unnoticed Baritones who kept all that great harmony together as well as one of the best arrangers to ever be a part of a group. This book tells the history of the Cathedrals from the Cathedral Trio, to the Cathedral Quartet. Like the story of Jake Hess, these guys paid a heavy price to do what they loved to do and what God had called them to do. This book will be captivating to any Cathedral Quartet fan as well as any other Gospel Music fan.