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The Statesmen

Among Southern gospel’s longest-running organizations, the Statesmen was also probably one of the most influential — their flair for showmanship and jazzy piano accompaniment pointed just how toward the crowd-pleasing CCM of today’s. Created in 1948 by pianist Hovie Lister, the initial group also included business lead Mosie Lister (no connection), tenor Bobby Strickland, baritone Bervin Kendrick and bass Gordon Hill. Even though Statesmen endured countless lineup adjustments over time — alumni included the fantastic Jake Hess — possibly the most pivotal member (in addition to its longest-lived) was pianist Lister; not merely was the group one of the primary Southern gospel quartets to present piano to their music, but Lister’s soulful, ragtime-influenced design heralded a significant shift from the rigid accompaniment of days gone by — though an ordained minister, he grasped the need of upgrading gospel to attract post-war audiences, especially young people. Through the entire decades to check out, the Statesmen documented over 100 produces for RCA; at several moments, their lineup highlighted performers including Rozie Rozell, Doy Ott, Pal Burton, Jim Wetherington, Tommy Thompson and Denver Crumpler, with Lister staying a roster staple in to the 21st century.

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