2012 Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

The Southern Gospel Music Association has announced the 2012 Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Charlie Burke (deceased)
  • Stuart Hamblen (deceased)
  • Geraldine Morrison (deceased)
  • Ace Richman (deceased)
  • Jim Hill
  • Buck Rambo

Undoubtedly halls of fame in other fields induct the occasional individual who may not have been a household name. Yet most Southern Gospel concert goers would be hard-pressed to name more than one or two of the nominees. Do other fields induct this percentage of nominees who are not household names? Is the extent to which the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame places the spotlight on less-recognized members of the industry a good thing?

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49 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. I question Buck Rambo… He was a good singer, but his style was not really SG. If not married to Dottie, I suspect he would have never been known 100 miles from home and would have not been a SG singer. People who loved, respected and appreciated Dottie are not particularly fond of Buck.

    Charlie Burke made major contributions to SG as did Stuart Hamblen and Jim Hill. Sorry – never heard of Geraldine Morrison or Ace Richmond.


    • Even I, with the position I am in and the years I’ve spent doing this, had to look up those two! Geraldine toured with Wendy Bagwell, and Ace was with the Sunshine Boys.

      • Come on Daniel. Surely you knew who Geraldine was. At many times as she was mentioned in Wendy’s stories it is hard to imagine a SG fan who did not know who she was… Wendy’s description of her response to the “rattlesnakes” will always be remembered…

      • Well, I’d always heard her referred to by first name only, so the last name threw me off. 🙂

        Also, since I’m 25, was raised on CCM, and did not discover Southern Gospel until my mid-teens, Wendy Bagwell & the Sunliters were decidedly before my time. I have picked up a couple of Sunliters albums here and there, and I’ve listened to them, but not exactly as often as I’ll listen to old Cathedrals, Kingsmen, Gold City, Blackwood Brothers, or Happy Goodmans albums!

      • understand. As a younger SG fan I had no clue who Ace Richman was…

      • Okay!

  2. I instantly recognized all the names except Ace Richman. I have been a SG fan for 35 years, and if you were a fan in the 70’s and 80’s, all those other names WERE household names to you.

    Daniel, I think all of these were household names in SG in their day. I know all but Ace R. were for me.

    • As we all know, there are different levels of household-name status. One could say that Vestal Goodman and Geraldine Morrison were both household names, but I think it’s fair to say Vestal Goodman was a household name in quite a few more households, then and now. 🙂

  3. By the way, I wonder how many of the current crop of full time SG singers would recognize all of these names.

    • They would get at least half of the list, but based on conversations I have with the newer generation of SG singers, there are certainly some who are more conversant with SG’s history than me (typically having grown up around it), but there are also certainly some less conversant with it than I am.

      • I recognized all of the names. I was very familiar with all of them except Ace, but I did remember his association with JD Sumner when JD was with the Sunshine Boys.

        My general thoughts regarding the list, are that I wish they would recognize (more often) those who are living rather than wait until they’re gone to recognize them.

        Here is the list from their website, and I can think of several still living who have made an indelible impact on SG music.

    • I do. 🙂

      • Me too Gerald!

      • Gerald and Ben – were your “I do” comments above replies to John that you know all the names, or replies to me that you are among the Southern Gospel singers who know more history than I do? 🙂

        (Well, it’s a moot point! Both are true, since you have both lived through Southern Gospel’s glory days, while I’m still playing catch-up!)

        Meanwhile, I’ll find some solace in the fact that Stewart Varnado also didn’t know who Ace was, and that was the only one I fully didn’t know. Once I put two and two together with the last name, I did know who Geraldine was. 🙂

      • Uhhh Gerald, I think Daniel is saying we’re old!

      • Well, Ben and Gerald, there is this weird cultural notion that being old is a bad thing. I heartily disagree with that absurd notion. Plenty of times I wish I was old enough to have heard the Cathedrals, Statesmen, Blackwood Brothers, Happy Goodmans, or Kingsmen in their heydays!

      • I think he’s trying hard NOT to say that, or at least say it without saying it. 😀

      • Well Ben, you and Gerald are both twice the age of Daniel (and me too). Gerald actually falls just short, but its pretty close.

  4. I knew them all instantly, except for Ace. Even after being told that he was with the Sunshine Boys, I still don’t know what part he did with them. Geraldine was with Wendy for the entire time of the Sunlighters. They were one of my first groups to ever see as an early teenager.
    Stuart Hamblen = Until Then, How Big Is God, This Ole House, It Is No Secret, Teach Me Lord To Wait, Open Up Your Heart, I am Persuaded, First Day In Heaven, and more.

  5. Forgot to add the link to the list. . . oops!


  6. I did recognize all of the names, but I’ve made it a point to study SG’s history. LOL

    It’s called the Hall Of Fame. All of the nominees were famous at one point or another, but I’d tend to agree that Rambo and Morrison are more known for their association with famous people than the fame they generated for themselves. That being said, it would have been disappointing to go to a Rambos concert only to hear Dottie sing or to a Sunliters concert only to hear Wendy sing. Dottie was famous for writing songs. Wendy was famous for telling funny stories. Neither would have had much of a singing ministry as soloists if they hadn’t had storytelling and songwriting going for them respectively.

    Ace Richman and the Sunshine Boys were precursors to the groups that later appeared with Presley. They appeared in Western movies with some of the biggest stars of the era.

    Charles Burke was perhaps the best known SG business man who wasn’t also known that much for performing (though he did sing with some groups during his career).

    Stuart Hamblen wrote some of the most loved songs in SG, but was also known as a western star and later as a politician.

    Jim Hill is well known as a performer who also wrote a few songs that have endured the test of time.

  7. I knew them all, except for Ace. I have never even heard his name that I recall, which is surprising to me because I thought I had heard of just about everyone in this business. Stewart not recognizing him either makes me feel better. LOL! Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters came to our town yearly off an on for over 20 years and Geraldine was a favorite. Those of us raised on Southern Gospel Music and who have lived it all our lives know who all or most of these people are. They were a part of our childhood and our music experience—and still are many times in the case of songwriters whose work lives on and on.

    I am thrilled that our genre is garnering new fans and I’m all for that and helping keep southern gospel music around for many decades to come. But I think that in order to be considered a guru or expert in the field of Southern Gospel Music, there should be some sort of SG101 class taught somewhere. LOL You know, the things one needs to know to be considered an expert in the subject. Southern Gospel has a rich history filled with great groups, charming personalities and unmistakable trademarks and nuances(ie: Derrell Stewart’s red socks, Vestal’s handkerchief, Peg kicking off her shoes, Wendy’s “thats a fact with my hand up”). I hope our younger fans would find some time to explore the history of this great music and the people who sing/sang it. It’s important, as a fan, to become more knowledgeable about it’s roots and the people who were the newsmakers before the time that one happeens to stumble onto our great music. Just because certain groups are before one’s time doesn’t mean that they didn’t make a huge impact on our industry. And with that, I’m off to find out a little more about Ace Richman.

  8. I knew them all by name when i read the list. I guess i became familiar with Ace Richman from watching the old Grand Ole Gospel Reunion videos from their inception from 1988? The Sunshine Boys with Ace Richman, Freddy Daniel, Eddie Wallace, J.D. Sumner. My Mom used to talk about them from seeing them back in the 50’s.

  9. I knew them all but Geraldine. I am familiar with Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters by name and the Rattlesnake song by reputation. I might have even heard it once, but they really aren’t on my radar.

  10. Here’s some reading material on the Sunshine Boys.

  11. I did recognize all of the names, I have an Album by the Sunshine Boys so Ace didn’t catch me by surprise.

    I think it is a shame that all these names were not easily recognized. These are soe of the men and women who are the reason we have southern gospel. It just goes to show how far away from our roots we have come. If we were to go back to the Vaugn/Blackwood/statesmen days and play what we call southern gospel I am sure they would puke. It’s time to train up our future and dare I say present singers on what true southern gospel is. I’m just sayin’……..this is not to be taken negativly against modern southern gospel..there are some great singers and great songs out today…..but very few real true definition southern gospel….but then I am a purest so what do I know

  12. I knew of Ace because JD Sumner sang with him in the Sunshine Boys. I really believe that without Dottie Rambo, nobody would have known who Buck was. I don’t think Buck is a Hall of Fame criteria, and I really believe there are others, both living and deceased, who have been bigger contributers to Gospel Music who are more worthy of induction than Buck Rambo. Big Lew Garrison, Roy Mcneil, Jay Berry, Tommy Fairchild, those are just a few names of gentleman I find more worthy of induction than Buck Rambo.

    • Would Connie Hopper have mad the hall of fame if she hadn’t met Claude? I think the same thinking applies to Buck. Dottie made Buck and Buck made Dottie. Buck also contributed many other attributes that helped further Dottie’s career. I hope Claude is inducted into the hall of fame before he dies.

      • Totally agree here. And Connie is a good comparison. What little I do know of Buck, this seems to be on the mark. That takes nothing away from Dottie, but Buck helped to shape the Rambos and helped to shape and influence the songs Dottie wrote.

      • Connie Hopper would have been Hall of Fame caliber if she’d joined any other mixed group. Have you ever seen her tear up the stage with “I’ve Come Too Far To Turn Back” or anything else? When I go to see the Hoppers, I’ll enjoy seeing Kim, Dean, Claude, and Mike, but the one I am most excited to see live is always Connie. 🙂

      • Certainly, I wasn’t implying that she had no stage presence. I agree that’s why many have come to see the Hoppers over the years and still come, and she’d do great in other places. But in God’s providence, she married and performed with the Hopper Brothers. Had she not met and married one of them…would she have even sang full-time?

    • If you had ever seen The Rambos in the 1970s, you would better understand Buck’s induction into the Hall of Fame. Dottie was the writer, and a great communicator. Reba had the thrilling voice. Buck created The Rambos’ “sound”. If you listen to their old recordings you’ll pick up on that. Not to mention that The Rambos wouldn’t have existed without Buck. He was “the” Rambo.

      • That is spot on Gerald! I tried to articulate that in the previous post. Go back and listen to his soft tenor voice and you will understand the Rambos sound. Well stated Mr. Wolfe!

  13. Daniel, Wendy had an affectionate nickname for Geraldine…”Ole Leather Lungs”. People (besides Wendy!) called her Jerry back then. She is not as well known as Little Jan, but she had just the right blend with Wendy and Jan. And I’m with Brian on his suggestions for the Hall of Fame…ESPECIALLY Roy McNeal and Tommy Fairchild. If I were to speak with the courage of Roy Pauley, I would say they should have been in long ago! They were heroes of mine in the 1960s. Tommy was ahead of his time in his piano style…one of the greatest ever. And Roy McNeal was absolutely peerless back then, singing lead OR tenor. He was at my church Sunday night singing with a guest group there…”He Touched Me”, and he is STILL flawless even in his upper range and can stand the hairs on the back of your neck STRAIGHT UP.

  14. Well, I certainly don’t want to take anything away from anyone or say someone isn’t deserving of the award, but I do agree with Nicholas above. Southern Gospel Music has evolved a lot down through the years, but so has other forms of music. But that said, if someone today were exposed to, say, only the Crabb Family or the Isaacs, they would not have a true well-rounded representation of what Southern Gospel Music is nor more than saying you love country music after only hearing Rascal Flatts or Carrie Underwood. Both Crabbs and Isaacs are wonderful groups in my book, but because SGM encompasses such a range of sub-genres within itself, it would not be accurate for someone who has heard only those two groups to say they love southern gospel music and are a fan. I do think it’s important to expose our younger fans to all of the variety of southern gospel music that is out there today and I think that’s one reason that multi-group events are important. For example, if I had a young person who was getting into southern gopsel music, I’d take them to an event like Singing In the Sun or the Brumley Sing or NQC.

    And I think it might be interesting to see a showcase at one of these events that featured classic groups and/or quartet individuals with newer artists of today. Sort of a “Then And Now” showcase. I’d love to see Roy McNeil and Ed O’Neal make a quartet up with Scott Inman and Riley Clark, for example, with Derrell Stewart on piano. Draw old and young alike and have them sing each other’s songs. Just a thought, but maybe it would create interest for the younger fan to explore the music of our genre’s history while the true legends could both inspire and encourage the younger generation.

  15. I knew them all and I was a little surprised at the number of people who were unfamiliar with Ace Richman but I think it’s because his most important contributions did not directly involve his singing. He was an inovator who took SG to places it had never been before. Since his group faded from national prominance by the mid-fifties few of us remember them and so few remember him. I’d compare him to Les Beasley. How many people will remember Les’ singing 20 years from now? Probably very few and yet, in his own way, through his many behind the scenes contributions he has been as influential in SG as any man alive. In his time the same could be said of Ace Richman. Buck Rambo…….well, he was an intregal part of the Rambos’ sound but if it were up to me there’s no way he’d be in the HOF.

  16. I knew all the folks but that is because I’m old (first saw Ace at a reunion of the Sunshine Boys at the 1973 NQC). When some of the artists of the 90s are inducted 15 years from now some new fans will say “never heard of him/her.” Here are some great photos of the Sunshine Boys with Elvis and on stage (including in Las Vegas where they performed for a time.)

  17. I’ve voted for Stuart Hamblen for the Hall of Fame for years. He is really the only one of the vintage gospel songwriters that was not in the Hall of Fame, and I’m excited that he is finally receiving recognition for his body of work. He was one of the greatest songwriters ever.

    It’s a shame that Charlie Burke passed away so suddenly, for he was surely on his way to the Hall of Fame. He’s launched too many great singers and groups in this business to not be recognized. And what a kind man.

    It’s WONDERFUL to see Wendy, Geraldine AND Little Jan all in the Hall of Fame. With nearly 40 years of singing together without one change in the singing lineup, that is a credit to all three of them. True gospel music legends.

    Ace Richman launched the Sunshine Boys and a lot of the legends have very intimate stories of his help and friendship to them. He was the man who kept the Sunshine Boys going, put them in the movies, put them on Wheeling, and JD himself said Ace taught him everything about the quartet business. It is actually quite ironic that Ace is the last of the most famous lineup of the Sunshine Boys (Ace, JD, Eddie, Fred) to be inducted, but he is certainly a deserving person.

    Jim Hill….hands down….looong overdue. Writing “What A Day That Will Be” alone qualifies him for induction, to say nothing of the impact he made singing.

    Buck Rambo often disappeared behind Dottie, but he was there for their glory years, and a vital part of one of the greatest family singing groups of our time. Buck deserves it. And he and Jim are both still alive, so there you go.

  18. Before Stuart Hamblen was converted at a Billy Graham crusade and wrote “This Ole House” “It is No Secret” and “Open Up Your Heart (and Let the Sunshine In)” he was a drinker and a gambler who wrote and recorded “I Won’t Go Huntin” With You Jake But I’ll Go Chasin” Women.”

    Best part of the story is that Jimmy Dean put “I Won’t Go Huntin” on the flipside of his 1960s monster hit “Big John” so Stuart made a pile of money in royalties when “Big John” sold millions.

  19. I am familiar with all those inducted, of course I’ve been around a long time. It seems that their selection (based on some of the comments) has already served to enhance the knowledge base.


    • Fred Daniel is already there

    • The SGMA only inducts individuals into the Hall Of Fame. That is a very wise approach. Charlie Waller and whoever else was involved in that decision should be commended for making that choice.

      Inducting groups is problematic. You need look no farther than the GMA to see why. Once a group is inducted, some individuals will claim they are “members” of the GMA Hall Of Fame…even if they were only with the inducted group for a short time.

      Pete Orta, who played guitar for Petra for a while, was billed as a GMA hall of fame member when his solo CD was released several years ago. There was no reference to the fact that he was a member of Petra. People had to draw in that dot for themselves before they could connect the dots.

      That’s just one of many examples.

  21. I too recognized them all expect Ace.

    What to go, ‘Leather Lungs’! Always enjoyed seeing Geraldine, Jan and Wendy.

    Knowing the Hall of Fame focuses on lifetime achievements, I still wish they would toss in a couple of newer artists that have proven themselves worthy of the same significance to SoGo as the oldies. I.e, Scott Fowler, Gerald Wolfe, maybe even a Booth Brother or two!

  22. Having grown up in SoGo I knew all of the names.

    “Jerri” aka. “ole leather lungs” made Wendy’s storys even more funny by acting like it was the first time, every time she heard it. Her belly laugh was classic. I first worked with the Sonlighters, in the early 60’s when I was with the Lesters, in Pinkneyville, IL. Their mode of transportation? A converted bread truck. It got them there but we weren’t sure it would get the home, LOL!

    Great times in SoGo!

    • I only got to see the Sunliters once or twice, but they were the highlight of the evening. Sure, people naturally came to hear Wendy tell funny stories, but Jan and Gerri were also very much appreciated for their talent.

      I remember Wendy telling about the bread truck…how it looked almost like a blood mobile and about one drunk who staggered up and tried to sell him a pint of blood…and about the wigs getting loose one night!

  23. Wow…I didn’t realize how old I am….I recognized all the names right off the bat! It has been VERY interesting reading all the comments. Brought back lots of memories.

  24. We currently live next door to Geraldine’s husband, Horace. Unfortunately, she passed away before we became neighbors so I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing her but he has definitely played some of her music for us! You can tell she was an amazing woman by the smile on his face and the way his eyes light up when he talks about her. This honor means the world to him. I am so glad he is alive to see it!

  25. I’m so happy to see Jim Hill inducted in the Southern Gospel Music HOF. What a Day That Will Be is one of the all time greats. Jim is a great talent as well as a great person. I’m proud to call him my friend.