The Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet

were the pioneer gospel/pop group of the 30's and 40's. Propelled by Willie Johnson (baritone) and William Langford (first tenor), they enjoyed massive acceptance far outside the church, and their smooth Mills Brothers-influenced harmonies made them naturals for pop crossover success. Together with Henry Owens (second tenor) and Orlandus Wilson (bass), they began recording for Victor in 1937 followed by National radio broadcasts and an appearance on John Hammond's 1938 'Spirituals To Swing' concert at Carnegie Hall. By 1941, the 'Gates' were recording for Columbia (minus Langford) and movie appearances were frequent: 'Star Spangled Rhythm', 'Hollywood Canteen' and 'Hit Parade' during 1943, to name a few. When experiments with R&B material didn't pan out during the late 40's, Johnson defected to the Jubilaires (in 1948). The group eventually emigrated to France in 1959. Of the four original members, William Langford and Henry Owens died in 1970 while Willie Johnson became a Los Angeles bus driver, occasionally fronting a backup group for Phil Harris in Las Vegas. Incredibly, it is still possible to see The Golden Gate Quartet today! Original member Orlandus Wilson anchors the group, still singing with his beautiful bass voice at the age of 83. Recordings by The Golden Gate Quartet go in and out of print with frustrating regularity. The best are often available only on import labels. An excellent introductory CD, 'Travelin' Shoes', contains 19 of the earliest recordings and is available from CD NOW.

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