Spelling names correctly

Spend any significant amount of time reading Southern Gospel album/CD credits and liner notes, and you will quickly discover that our genre has had its fair share of poor spellers. Let’s clear up some of the most common misspellings:

  • Danny Funderburk – not Funderburke
  • Mike Holcomb – not Holcombe
  • Dianne Wilkinson – not Diane, not Wilkerson!
  • LeFevre – not LeFever (or worse)
  • James “Big Chief” Wetherington – not Weatherington
  • Lari Goss – not Larry Goss

Then there are a few that still puzzle me:

  • Ronnie Hinson or Ronny Hinson? I’ve been told that he prefers Ronny. But he was almost universally credited as Ronnie in 70s and 80s album creditsβ€”and his songs listed on BMI’s website are either credited to Ronald A Hinson or Ronnie Hinson.
  • Lee Roy Abernathy or LeeRoy Abernathy or Leroy Abernathy?

What are other misspelled names that you’ve seen often enough that significant confusion exists?

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61 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Big Jim Hammill/Hamil/Hamill

    • Yes, that’s one that definitely got misspelled!

  2. It seems to usually be just one letter off – like Gerald Wolf, Ernie Haas and Mark Trammel

  3. According to my redback Church Hymnal, it’s Lee Roy Abernathy. Assuming that this book was inspired by God, I would go with that. πŸ™‚

  4. I’ve seen the Isaacs as Issacs numerous times online, often on Sirius/XM, and even on a concert poster.

  5. In his book, “IT”, the name is spelled Lee Roy Abernathy.

    Two of the older names that are often spelled incorrectly are Roy McNeal (not McNeil), and Burl Strevel (not Strevil).

    A few years ago, there was a gospel trivia game online. I missed a question because I spelled Strevel correctly, but the computer had the incorrect spelling “Strevil”.

    • I’ve seen Roy McNeal’s name incorrectly quite a few times!

      I’ve seen Burl’s last name as Streval enough, also, that I think I might have guessed that one wrong.

  6. Every official publication I’ve seen uses either “LeeRoy” or “Lee Roy” for the spelling of Abernathy’s name, including a magazine he published himself. It’s also spelled “Lee Roy” on his grave stone.

    I would rule out “Leroy” entirely and chalk “LeeRoy” up to the occasional spacing error.


  7. Another one is:
    Garry Jones – Gary

    • There should be a “not” before “Gary.”

    • Yes, I’ve seen that one wrong so many times that it’s probably a top 3 in all-time SG most frequent misspellings!

      • One of the reasons that Garry’s name is misspelled so much is that it was spelled as Gary for the first ten years he was part of Gold City. Until Gold City’s second product release of 1991 (Answer The Call), he was credited as “Gary.”

      • Hmm…
        Since his nickname was “Taco” when he was with Gold City, does that mean it should now be spelled “Tacco?”

  8. The Jubilee 3 CD credits its producer as being Geral Wolfe. πŸ˜›

    • To preserve the integrity of the Graphic Artist… The spelling was correct on the original artwork, but was changed by the “proofer” at the print company. They have since corrected it for future printings.

      • Just be thankful they didn’t add an “o” to make you Geraldo.

  9. This is a bit off topic, but speaking of names, I would like to find out what the following initials stand for in the following names, for it important to know your singers by name:
    J in William J. Gaither
    J.D. in J.D. sumner
    G.T. in G.T. Speer (or is it Spear?)
    w in Michael W. Smith (non SG artist). Does anyone know the answers?

    • William J. Gaither – J is for James

      J.D. Sumner – for John Daniel

      G.T. Speer – George Thomas

      Michael W. Smith – I have no idea. It’s not my genre! πŸ™‚ But at the same time, I have a mind for trivia, and from out of the blue, it just popped into my mind: Whitaker. I did a quick Google search to confirm that that’s indeed correct.

      • Wow, Thanks Daniel! I really wanted to know these names!

      • You’re welcome!

      • We wanted to call our baby Danny, and we also considered naming him after his daddy. Juan Daniel seemed to flow better than Daniel Juan and I have joked that if we had stuck with that he would almost certainly have turned out to be a bass singer!

    • I know the answer to MWS, because I actually talked with him about it 10-12 years ago.

      It’s Michael Whitaker Smith.

      Whitaker is a family name. If I’m remembering correctly, it was his paternal grandmother’s maiden name.

  10. How about Bruce Taliaferro? I can’t even begin to pronounce his last name, much less spell it. πŸ™‚

    • TAL-ya-FAIR-oh

      That’s “tal” as in “I’ll tal ya one thang!”, not “tall”.

  11. Some names I’ve seen, some from the past:

    Parker Jonathan – not Jonathon, or worse Jonathan Parker, as I’ve seen him referred to in print on multiple occasions when he was with the Kingsmen.

    Carol Woodard – not Woodward (McKameys)

    Randal Hunley – not Huntley (McKameys)

    The Greenes – not The Greens

    The Nelons – not Nelsons. And not only can they not spell this one right (incorrectly assuming someone left out the first “s”) but folks cannot say this one either. I’ve heard radio DJs butcher this name so badly, it’s made me cringe. They’ve called them Nelsons, KNEE-LAWNS with great stress and mouth movement on both syllables, even Nylons and Nelons as in rhymes with MELONS. πŸ™‚

    • I can sort of understand that. Until I heard it pronounced, I always rhymed it with “melon”. After all, it’s one letter off. After I heard it pronounced I still think it should be spelled “Nealon”.

      Also, this is funny but the name “LeFevre” is being mispronounced by EVERYONE in gospel music, including the family themselves. It’s actually French in origin and should be pronounced “Leh-FAVE” with a very, very soft “r” sound after the “v”. My guess is the mispronunciation started happening often and early, and the early family members (like Urias and Alphus, etc.) decided to just let it be.

  12. Ya know, for the longest time, I could never figure out if it was Rodney “Griffin” or Rodney “Griffith”. For some reason, my spell check on my phone and computer keep wanting to put in Griffith, and it started to get me confused. But I know now that it’s Griffin. πŸ™‚

    • What makes things even more confusing is that there was a songwriter by the name of Robert Griffith who had some huge cuts in the 80s and early 90s – “God Himself the Lamb” (Cathedrals), “Do You Know Him” (Cathedrals), “Under His Feet” (McKameys), and a bunch of Hoppers cuts co-written with Shannon Childress.

      • And you may have seen Robert Griffith at NQC this year, he, along with his wife and daughter had a booth this year with the expensive massage chairs and the saunas. His daughter married Chris Collins, former Kingsmen tenor.

      • That IS confusing! Maybe that name is what got me mixed up!

      • Agreed!

  13. Probably a good thing I’m not a professional SG singer…. my name would drive people nuts! It’s bad enough working at a SG radio station, people are always asking how it’s spelled or pronounced! πŸ™‚

  14. Vestal or Vestel Goodman.

    • That’s a trick question, Stuart, because both are actually correct.

  15. One local DJ here when she announces “The Hoppers” she calls them “The Harpers” – …it drives me crazy!!!

  16. Tracy Dartt – often misspelled as Dart.

  17. Teddy Huffman / Huffam and the Gems

  18. Can’t believe no one has mentioned this one: It’s Glen Payne, not Glenn Payne.

    • I was about to. I have mentioned that and Funderburke a number of times over various blogs. Another I would usually mention in the same list is a mispronunciation of Younce’s last name to rhyme with ounce. I understand with the uninitiated, but cannot understand how it escaped Bill’s or others watchful eyes (or I guess ears) on several Homecoming videos. I remember at a Cathedrals concert or two in the nineties hearing if not self-proclaimed experts, at least those who thought they knew more than they did audience members doing the same thing. I figured one of two things were likely, they had come to learn about the Cathedrals via Gaither videos or in print (most likely the former). I suppose some DJs could have done it though and they heard it on the radio. I would think that once they came to a program, they would have seen they were wrong.

      I think I have also heard Funderburk as Thunderburk.
      Richard Sterban was sometimes misspelled as Sturbin (including at least once in J.D.’s book).
      Tony Brown’s nickname Tarzan was misspelled as Tarzen on one album cover and I think on the back of some of the Stamps stuff maybe.

      • Speaking of Funderburk, my first exposure to him was via the Cathedrals’ reunion CD. Listening to it for the first couple times, George said “Danny Funderburk, ladies and gentlemen” so fast that I honestly thought his name was “Danny Funderburklington”! πŸ™‚

      • Daniel – either Sam or Jayme used to call Danny Funderburk “Danny THUNDERBURK”! πŸ™‚ It took us a while to convince them that it was actually Funderburk…


      • Impressive and imposing, but not QUITE as imposing as Funderburklington! πŸ™‚

    • Also, Glenn Dustin has been often mistakenly referred to as Glen Dustin, even in the latest (non-Christmas) Jubilee 3 CD. (Unless, of course, it is Glen without the double “n”…)


  19. The whole Ronnie/Ronny Hinson thing totally messes me up. On facebook, he goes by Ronny, so I guess that’s the current version. But it’s hard to not write Ronnie. I guess the Y is more manly – Kenny, Larry, Rodney would look funny as Kennie, Larrie, and Rodnie.

  20. I could group all the GV guys in this. I’ve seen Trammel & Tramell instead of Trammell, Waldrep and not Waldroup. I’ve seen Almen or Almond & earlier in his venture, Wolf versus Wolfe.

    • Let’s not forget Rodney Griffin… who is often referred to as Roger Griffin or Rodney Griffith.

  21. I forgot one; Gus Gaches. I once got in trouble with fans of the Elvis Imperials for calling him “Gus Ga-SHAY”, assuming it would be pronounced exotically. They wouldn’t tell me how it was actually pronounced, but I knew it wasn’t “Gotchas” or “Gatch’s”, so I let it go.

    When he joined Legacy Five, he posted a video on youtube: “Hi, this is Gus GAY-shuss”…

    I wonder how often people mispronounce his name.

    • I wonder if you’re remembering something I did. When he was with the LeFevre Quartet, I posted a brief video interview with him. Within a day or two of when he joined L5, I re-posted it, so everyone could hear him say his own name. πŸ™‚

      • Probably.

    • His name is hard! I still have trouble saying it. I keep wanting to pronounce it “Gachez” as if it’s Mexican. L5 said that the way they remember is that it illiterates with “Gracious”….but I still don’t get it right on the first try. Lol

  22. My last name has a silent “a” that throws people off off. The most common incorrect spelling is Murry. “Murray” itself is actually incorrect. It was born from a deviation in spelling of the Scottish surname “Moray.” Of course, Murray is also a fairly common given name, especially among Jews.

    My initials frequently end up being DMB, since people like to alternate hands when they type short words.

    Pronunciations of Murray (rhymes with “hurry”) have been all over the place from “Merry” to “Murphy” just this past Wednesday at the Cracker Barrel.

    There’s also the misplaced accent issue. I’m commonly “muh-RAY,” and a college professor once went with “muh-RAH.”

    • I am sure Kyle Boreing’s name gets misspelled often. People often misspell mine as quartetman instead of quartet-man (if they don’t call me q-man which Joe Bonsall started doing). πŸ˜‰

  23. Don’t even get me started on mispronounced and misspelled last names…

  24. A couple more:

    Chris or Kris for Kreis French

    Libby for Libbi Stuffle

  25. Gary Casto – not Castro.

    Promoter Duane Garren – not DeWayne, and not the many version of his last name I’ve seen.

    Talent Agent Beckie Simmons – not Becky.

    Singing News Columnist and Gospel Greats wife Shelia Heil – not Sheila.

    Dan Keeton – not Keaton.

    Interesting and fun topic, Daniel—and one that especially those who are the professionals in our industry need to be mindful of. I know everyone makes a mistake now and then, but those who are in the positions to be the industry standards and the top dogs/gurus of our genre need to strive to report information as correctly as possible. They should know it and/or research it to make sure it’s correct. Printed media, radio, internet sites, concert productions, recording companies, or artists themselves—-if one is involved in the promotion of this music, then I believe that person has an obligation to become as familiar with the subject matter and the people involved as they can be in order to do what they do knowledgably and accurately. Thanks for the reminder!

  26. And yes, as soon as I hit submit, I noticed I spelled “knowledgeably” wrong!! Glad I’m not a professional!! LOL

  27. I made the TeddyHuffam/Huffman mistake for years, mainly because that is what the local DJs called him. When I got my first Teddy Huffam & the Gems cassette, I thought there was a typo on the cover!

    My last name is misspelled so often, that I’m used to it.

  28. Sandi Patty’s last name was spelled “Patti” on her own album covers for something like fifteen years!

    It was spelled wrong on the first one. She was young and nervous about telling the label to correct it, so she adopted it as a stage name instead.

  29. My spelling is horrible, How do I spell annamaria or annemaria