Clarice Howard Baxter

Gospel Vocals Gospel Music Hall of Fame 1981

Born: 1972 Dekalb Co., AL

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame


Clarice Howard "Ma" Baxter

1898 - 1972

Inducted 1997 SGMA

For more than four decades, Clarice Baxter worked to build and nurture one of gospel music's most prestigious publishing companies.

Clarice developed her life-long love of sacred music while attending singing schools near her DeKalb County, Georgia home. After her marriage to J. R. Baxter in 1918, she gave up her position as a teacher to join her husband in his work with the A. J. Showalter Company.

Beginning in 1926, when the Baxters became part owners of the Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Company, she joined the staff and worked for the remainder of her life as one of the key figures in both the printing operation and in the annual Stamps-Baxter School of Music.

Upon her husband's death in 1960, Clarice assumed the mantel of President and General Manager of Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing-becoming the first woman to hold sole responsibility of such a business in the gospel music community.



The Stamps-Baxter Music Company was an influential southern music publishing company in the shape note gospel field. Virgil Oliver Stamps founded the company in 1924 and J. R. Baxter Jr. joined him to form the Stamps-Baxter Music Company, which was based in Dallas, Texas, with offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Pangburn, Arkansas. Stamps got his start working for the James D. Vaughan Publishing Company from which he got many of his business ideas.

Stamps and Baxter operated a music school which was the primary source of the thousands of gospel songs they published. The company issued several paperback publications each year with cheap binding and printed on cheap paper. Thus, the older books are now in delicate condition. These songbooks were used in church singing events, called "conventions," as well as at other church events, although they did not take the place of regular hymnals. Among the country music and bluegrass "standards" that were first published by Stamps-Baxter are "Rank Strangers to Me", "Just a Little Talk With Jesus", "Precious Memories", "Farther Along", "If We Never Meet Again", "Victory in Jesus", and "I Won't Have to Cross Jordan Alone".

Another major part of the corporation was its sponsorship of gospel quartets who sang the company's music in churches throughout the southern United States. At the end of World War II they were sponsoring 35 such quartets. The company also had a quartet who sang on radio station KRLD in Dallas, beginning in 1936. This station would boost its transmitting power at midnight, so that it could be heard across the nation. An additional part of the Stamps-Baxter music empire was a magazine, Gospel Music News. Each part of the corporation supported every other part, giving strength to the entire organization.

In 1945, Frank Stamps, younger brother of V. O. Stamps, left the organization to form the rival Stamps Quartet Music Company. At the same time a number of quartets left Stamps-Baxter resulting in the end of the company’s quartet sponsorship coinciding with the end of the war. Frank’s defection did not hurt the Stamps-Baxter company in the long run, although it did lead to some confusion among the public. The Stamps-Baxter School of Music declined after World War II, but its successor continues to this day as an annual two-week summer workshop under the leadership of Ben Speer.

Stamps died in 1940, leaving the company to J. R. Baxter. After Baxter died in 1960, his widow, Clarice Howard "Ma" Baxter, ran the company until her death in 1972. In 1974, the company was sold to Zondervan, which became part of the Benson Company in 1986.

The "convention" song books typically included 140 songs. The first song would be on the inside front cover, numbered 00 with the first song inside the book being numbered 1-A, and the rest of the songs were numbered 1 through 138. Each book included four or five older public domain songs such as John Newton's "Amazing Grace", Mackay's "Revive Us Again", Stennett’s "I Am Bound for the Promised Land", and Smith’s "America". In addition, one or two songs from earlier Stamps-Baxter publications might be included. The other 134 songs would consist of new material that had never been published before. The authors and composers of these songs were paid as much as $7.00 for each song, which would be the only monetary compensation that they would get.

The Stamps-Baxter company was careful to renew its copyrights under United States copyright law.[citation needed] The collections, not the individual songs, were copyrighted, so that anyone looking up records for the songs must know in which collection it was first published.[citation needed] Under current U. S. copyright law, works published between 1922 and 1963 will not enter public domain until 95 years after their initial year of copyright if the copyright was renewed. Thus, a Stamps-Baxter song copyrighted in 1929 will enter public domain in 2024.

There is also a claim to copyright on these songs. On October 16, 1998, three corporations, Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc., Stamps-Baxter Music, and Bridge Building Music, Inc., filed for copyright on "Glory Special" & 19,618 other titles. This large collection includes all of the Stamps-Baxter convention songs. Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc now owns Stamps-Baxter Music and Bridge Building Music. Therefore the copyright is maintained by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.




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