The Best Lineup that Never Was: Cathedrals

I have hesitated at the thought of producing a list of the best Cathedrals lineup that never was. The Cathedrals had so many distinct and unique sounds over the years that it would be hard to pin down one lineup and say that these singers could reproduce any Cathedrals sound. This especially holds true at the tenor slot.

  • Tenor: John Rulapaugh. His vocal intonation is especially comparable to Roy Tremble’s, from the 1970s lineups. He could also sing most of the Talley and Haase repertoire.
  • Lead: Rodney Griffin. Griffin can sing a Glen Payne-style lower lead at least as good as any other singer on the road.
  • Baritone: Doug Anderson. Though his voice doesn’t sound quite like any previous Cathedrals baritone, I have often wondered what the Cathedrals would have sounded like with Anderson should Scott Fowler have left to form Legacy Five before the Cathedrals retired.
  • Bass: Christian Davis. George Younce has deeply influenced so many bass singers that it is challenging to name just one. David Hester, Jeff Pearles, Tim Duncan, and Christian Davis were the four that I most seriously considered. I ended up settling on Davis due to his demonstrated ability in performing several of Younce’s signature songs on his (Davis’s) recent solo project, Make it Real.
  • Piano: Stewart Varnado. The Cathedrals relied heavily on the piano and used few soundtracks in their programs. Less than ten years later, hardly any groups on the road do this anymore, so while numerous Southern Gospel pianists no doubt could carry a program without soundtracks, I selected Varnado because he has demonstrated that he can, and does every night.

This closes out the series. I’m glad I did it, and I gather some of you are glad I’m done. Whether or not that is true, I’ve enjoyed making it.

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18 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. Harold Gilley sounds EXACTLY like George Younce. He’s the only bass for this list.

  2. Harold is amazing and can sound just like George. I think Christian is a good choice too though.

  3. Rodney Griffin as lead?

  4. Yes, as a lower, Glen Payne-style lead. Gerald Wolfe has said from the stage at the Singing News Fan Awards that Rodney is singing lead a good deal of the time with Greater Vision.

  5. Re: Rodney Griffin

    I know he takes the lead on some GV songs, I just don’t see him as a hard-driving lead singer.
    Also I’ve never been impressed by Davis either.

  6. The bass I would use is Tracy Stuffle — maybe not the same on lead parts but he has the endings down pat!

  7. That’s a pretty good group Daniel.

  8. Thanks for the suggestions! I think I used at least one of them.

  9. I did say Rodney Griffen but I put him as Barritone. I do think he would be a good lead though.

  10. I also feel that Harold Gilley would be a better choice for a Younce-style bass.

    Has anyone considered Ed Enoch for lead here? His vocal stylings resemble Payne’s somewhat.

  11. I can’t think of a better choice for pianist than Stewart Varnado. While there are other great pianists out there (ie. Jeff Stice, Matthew Holt), Varnado has that same style and is taking on the same kind of presence on stage as Roger. especially roger from the 80’s/early 90s.

  12. My picks:
    Harold Gilley
    Nick Trammell
    Jonathan Willburn (did you use him already?)
    Matt Felts
    Stewart Varnardo
    I suggest Matt for tenor because he’s got a vocal ‘drive’ that fits Talley’s and Funderburk’s style very well. Yet he can sing smooth like Tremble and Haase. Although I disagree, I see your point in picking Rulapaugh since he’s a more widley recognized tenor.
    But, I wonder who today can play like Haskell Cooley?

  13. Well…I would suppose Haskell Cooley can. 🙂

    He’s still performing, you know.

  14. HOw about:

    John Rulpaugh
    Aurther Rice
    Trevor Haley
    Harold Gilley
    Gary Jones

  15. Well, I meant other than Haskell. Pianist playing his style are becomming few and far between these days.
    Interesting group, Ben. I hadn’t thought of Aruther Rice, but I could see him in such a group.

  16. Rodney has some similar mannerisms and he is very good, but to me, he doesn’t sound a lot like Glen or have a similar style. Honestly, I have never heard a singer that reminds me much of Glen Payne. On the other hand, the GV songs that feature Rodney would have been great vehicles for Glen. I would have loved to have heard Glen sing “He’ll Carry Me” or “Faces”.

  17. Heres something that happened quite a few times, Rick Busby, of later the Florida Boys and Heaven Bound, subbed for the Cathedrals a number of times, as early as the 80’s for Danny Funderburk and once in 94 for Ernie at the Dove Awards. Rick and Roger went to Bible college together, in fact Rick’s filling in for the Cathedrals was how he got the job with the Florida Boys. I wonder what they would have sounded like with Rick Busby. And if you think I’m making this up and would like to challenge me on this, go to, and there are a couple photos to verify this.

  18. I have heard all the up-coming bass singers of today….some pretty good….but there’s ONE who “blows my mind” His name is Darin Hebert (ha-bear} This guy is with a fantastic group called THE HOMESTEADERS, of weeletka, Ok. He’s so rich and low ,I hate his guts!!ha…He is in his 20’s and can belch out a { double low “d” like blowing bubble gum……AMAZING !!!!
    He has all the qualities of a trained, veteran bass singer, and a personality the folks love….not “cocky” just a “good ole’ boy” Listen for their Christmas project and faint of shock at the quality of a boy in his early 20’s.I plan on killing him,ha!..Great !!!