Song Snapshots #32: He’s More than Just a Swear Word (Couriers, Blackwood Brothers, Collingsworth Family)

Song Snapshots is a column featuring the stories behind new and classic Southern Gospel songs.

Neil Enloe’s father was a barber. He describes him as a “fun-loving, happy guy, who never had a sad day in his life.” But, Enloe recalls, “He loved his Lord, and he was dead serious about God. He was a great role model.”

“In his barber shop,” Enloe continues, “he could not stand to have the name of Jesus berated or blasphemed. In his shop, one wall had a sign, ‘No swearing, please.’ Another wall had a sign that said, ‘No profane language, please.’ My dad was a very crude person when it comes to design; he tore the flap off a cardboard box, and with a child’s crayon, he wrote a sign and thumb-tacked it to a third wall. And it said, and this one he made up, ‘A feller’s tougher who is not a cusser.’”

Enloe recalls the impact of his father’s stand: “So here I am, and going into my dad’s barber shop. In front of his customers, when they would blaspheme the name of the Lord, he would stop, mid-stroke, whether it was shaving, or cutting hair, or whatever, and he’d say, ‘Look, this is my Lord and my Savior, we don’t talk like that here.’ So at the expense of losing business, my dad stood up for his Lord, and that deeply impressed me as a little guy. So in the years that followed, I just decided to make a statement, too, and that’s where that song really came from, my childhood.”

The song was one of the most popular songs the Couriers ever introduced. It made the rounds in the 1970s; the Blackwood Brothers, Cathedrals, Dixie Echoes, Dixie Melody Boys, Downings, Florida Boys, Kingsmen, and Sego Brothers were among the groups who recorded it. After receiving little attention for decades, the song was recently brought back by the Collingsworth Family on their 2007 We Believe CD.

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Saturday News Roundup #184

Worth Knowing

  • The Diplomats’ Corey Pearson was taken to the emergency room after a bad accident yesterday. He had injuries to his face, his knuckles, and his ankle; the ankle injury was “a separated bone from the ligaments in my ankle.” Yet, after a night at the emergency room, he was released in time to appear at the remainder of the weekend’s concerts.
  • Former Florida Boys tenor Rick Busby announced on Facebook that he has accepted the pastorate of McBean Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Georgia.
  • Former Cathedrals baritone/pianist George Amon Webster has been battling cancer (updates here and here). Bryan Hutson, who traveled with him in the Heartland Boys, posted on Facebook that the cancer has taken a turn for the worse, and Webster has been taken to hospice.
  • Beyond the Ashes baritone Tyler Vestal has moved over to play keyboards full-time, to make room for new baritone Casey Shepherd. Here’s a video of Shepherd imitating Vestal Goodman
  • Friends of Tracy Stuffle are launching a website,, to offer various ways to help with medical expenses of his stroke recovery.
  • Meanwhile, Tracy Stuffle’s ability to speak and even sing is returning. Here’s a video of him thanking friends for their prayers and support, and a video of him singing “God is So Good.”
  • UPDATE, 12 noon: John Rulapaugh offered his comments on Josh Garner’s departure from Freedom:

    “To quell the rumors and speculation concerning my future and that of Freedom – Josh Garner is and always will be one of my very best friends. It is with great sadness that I have to accept that he will be moving on to sing with the Dixie Melody Boys. Quite simply, Freedom does not keep a heavy enough touring schedule to allow us to make a living from it. The Lord has blessed Jennifer and I in our business, but anyone in business knows that you either run your business or your business will run away from you. For this reason my touring schedule has been and must remain limited. That does not mean that I am going to have to stop singing, or that this is the end of Freedom. I have been overwhelmed with the response and interest from those interested in coming to sing with Freedom! I am blessed and encouraged by those who have encouraged me to “keep on keeping on” and that is exactly what I intend to do.

    I am not one for hasty decisions, nor am I compelled to issue a press release for the purpose of reporting that there is nothing to tell you. As I continue the search for someone to sing in Josh’s absence I recognize the fact that there can truly be no replacement. I appreciate your continued support and covet your prayers as I carefully consider and look forward the future.”

Worth Watching

There will always be a contingent of Kingsmen fans who think it’s not really, fully the classic Kingsmen sound unless there’s live piano being played. Especially in that light, it’s interesting to note that tenor Chris Jenkins has started playing piano on several songs in the Kingsmen programs. Baritone Randy Crawford adds a bass guitar.

Playing piano and doing the incredibly high tenor vocal runs on “Glory Road”—now that takes some serious talent and multi-tasking ability!

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Les Beasley in Louisville Hospital

According to a report that went out yesterday morning (link requires Facebook login), Les Beasley had been admitted to the Jewish Hospital in Louisville with pneumonia and congestive heart failure. An update yesterday evening clarified that Beasley was not in intensive care and was ambulatory. The hospital staff is hoping to be able to send him home to Florida by Friday or Saturday.

Beasley, former Florida Boys lead singer and manager, was in Louisville for an NQC Board meeting, probably the meeting at which they approved extending the contract with Freedom Hall till 2014.

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Derrell Stewart hospitalized

According to a story posted on the Singing News website yesterday, Southern Gospel legend Derrell Stewart, former pianist for the Florida Boys, is in intensive care in West Florida Hospital in Cantonment, FL. According to his wife Revé, he had been blacking out and is currently in cardiac intensive care.

On a lighter note, to my fellow blogger Wes Burke: You might want to brush up on your studies of the Florida healthcare system. I mean, I’m sure they’re struggling with the economy and all that, but still, “the hospital in Florida” is a little much.

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Jerry Trammell featured in Catoosa County News

The Catoosa County News featured an interview with former Florida Boys tenor Jerry Trammell (Mark’s brother) several days ago. [EDIT, 2/21/13. Broken link removed.] The discussion of Jerry’s place in Southern Gospel music history, as well as his activities and recent health challenges since his time in the spotlight, makes it today’s fascinating read.

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New Florida Boys make Debut Performance

A.B. Kendall has a report on his blog from the debut concert of Charlie Waller’s New Florida Boys. [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.] The new group has been six months in the making, and gets high praise from Kendall.

In a move that comes as no particular surprise (given Waller’s musical tastes), it sounds like the new group’s repertoire consists primarily of Florida Boys material from forty years ago. This seems to suggest that the Florida Boys will join the ranks of the Blackwood Brothers, the Chuck Wagon Gang, and (to a lesser extent) the Dixie Echoes, groups that primarily perform material older than most of the members and rarely introduce new songs. But that is quite possibly the best niche for this group. It will provide them with sufficient material for their live programs while freeing them from the inevitable comparisons that would come from attempts to add to the legacy by finding and introducing new songs as good as the Florida Boys’ classics.

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Chip Cooper to join Waller’s New Florida Boys

A few weeks back, I posted that Dan Keeton was joining Charlie Waller’s New Florida Boys. This afternoon, Ed Crawford of the Mystery Men Quartet stopped by the post and commented. It’s worth promoting to the main page, since the Keeton post is old enough that few will notice it:

I have said both to his face and to anyone i talked to, Dan Keeton is the best tenor in southern gospel music. He and I sung together in the beginning of the mysterymen and he may be the best i have ever heard, including david phelps. I wish the very best for the new group. They also hired the long term bass singer from the mystery men Chip Cooper. He has without a doubt, one of the smoothest bass voices in the business and will be a trmendous asset to the new group. We hated to see him go but we wish him the very best. Good luck guys!

Here’s a bio on Cooper, and here’s are some sound clips that appear to feature him. [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.]

(There’s no word yet on what happened to Buddy Burton, the original intended bass singer.) [EDIT: John, below, points out that Buddy Burton was actually set to be the baritone. So with Ed Crawford’s post yesterday, and John’s post below, the complete lineup is now public.]

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Dan Keeton to join Florida Boys

Dan Keeton confirmed that he would be joining the New Florida Boys in this Singing News forums post. His announcement stated:

I am leaving DMB, but not real soon. The plan was to leave the first of October, but the new man will not be here yet. So, I will be here till he is ready and I will be there in Hillsboro, OH.

There was a mention that the announcement of me joining the Florida Boys would happen on saturday night at NQC. But since DMB was to perform two groups later, I didn’t feel that it was respectful to Mr O’Neal. Ed has been so good to me and it is a bitter-sweet decision.

My mother has been diagnosed with “congestive heart failure” and our families miss us alot. I am starting a multi-media studio and publishing co at home and will begin with the New Florida Boys in January.

I believe this is also the first mention of the fact that the New Florida Boys will take a couple of months to get their act together, and will start in January. That’s both encouraging, since it should help them get their act together (pun not intended) before facing the public, and surprising, since the timing of the announcement led many fans to believe that there was some rush to get the news out. As it stands, if they won’t be starting for three or four months, it really wouldn’t have hurt anything to delay the announcement until after NQC.

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A new Florida Boys?

Will there be a new Florida Boys, with no members from previous lineups?

That’s what Kevin Steele is reporting on the Singing News forums. He said that the lineup will be Charlie Waller (lead), Buddy Burton (baritone), Chip Cooper (bass), Joshua Pope (piano), and a to-be-announced tenor.

My personal opinion is that even if Charlie Waller can afford the name, it just wouldn’t be right to bring back the Florida Boys name so soon, if there are no previous Florida Boys members on board the bus.

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Florida Boys sing final concert tomorrow

It’s been previously announced, but just as a reminder, the Florida Boys are singing their final full concert tomorrow. Any readers within driving distance of St. Saba Texas, be sure to show up and send them off in style!

Their schedule also shows that they’ll be keeping two scheduled dates in Knoxville next month, perhaps (hopefully? hint, hint?) to record a live video. They’ll also be giving their final farewell appearance at NQC–something I’m really looking forward to seeing.

But the fact still remains that, with the exception of those special performances, the Florida Boys’ end sixty years of continuously being on the road tomorrow. I wish them the best as they retire and go on to other ventures–and for Les, Darrell, and Glen, a well-earned rest.

Southern Gospel has been bettered immeasurably by their sixty years of faithfulness. Adieu.

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