Erman Slater

Born: Feb. 2, 1903  Hopewell, AL

Died: Jan. 12, 1951

Gospel Vocals The Ranger Quartet

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian music has exploded in popularity in recent years. According to the Gospel Music Association, consumers bought more than 14.2 million albums this year. This represents a 6.7% share of the total music market.

But before Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, or Third Day; before Kirk Franklin or Mary Mary; before Gold City or The Crabb Family; before Gospel music was a multi-million dollar industry, it was born and raised in the churches, school auditoriums and radio stations of the rural South.

One of the pioneers of this music style was a native of Sand Mountain. Erman Clark Slater was born to Hughie and Annie Slater of Geraldine on February 2, 1903.

Slater’s father was a baseball manager and always provided boys in the community with a good playing field. Slater developed a strong love of the game, and even tried out for a minor league team.

But baseball took a back seat when Slater married Nora Lee Jolley of Hopewell. Music was an important part of family life for the Jolley’s, and Slater soon found himself attending singing schools in the area.

By the late 1920s he had organized the Jolley Family Quartet with three of his brothers-in-law. Next, he was part of the Sand Mountain Quartet, where he sang baritone. Among the members of this group was a young Hixon Bell, who would one-day become well known as a music teacher throughout the county.

After a brief stint with the Friendly Five Quartet, Erman sang with the Stamps Dixie Four in 1940. The group traveled, and also sang on WMC Radio in Memphis, Tennessee.

The onset of World War II brought about personnel problems for the Stamps Dixie Four, so Slater returned to the Sand Mountain Quartet. through the years he also sang with the Lone Star Quartet of North Carolina, and the All-American Quartet.

In 1945, Slater reformed the Sand Mountain Quartet with his good friend Bobby Strickland. Their piano player was a young man by the name of Hovie Lister, who would one day form the legendary Statesmen Quartet. When Lister left the group, he was replaced by Lee Roy Abernathy, who would go on to pen many timeless Gospel hymns.

The Harmoneers were an influential quartet based in Knoxville. Slater (along with Strickland), moved there in 1946 to become part of the Harmoneers. The group recorded for RCA Victor, and enjoyed a sizable radio audience.

Singing with the Harmoneers was a great experience for Slater, but the sacrifice was too much. He missed the time away from home. He left the group to spend more time with his wife and their three children, Myron, Juanita and Connie Mack (named after baseball great Cornelius McGillicuddy).

But in 1949 Slater received an offer he couldn’t refuse. He became the new baritone singer for the Raleigh, N.C., based Rangers Quartet. The group toured the country, as well as sang over WPTF Radio.

Having just enjoyed a wonderful Christmas party at his Sand Mountain farm, Slater hit the road with the Rangers at the end of 1949. The group had scheduled a two-week tour that included concerts in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas.

It was toward the end of this tour that tragedy struck. After singing at a church near Mount Pleasant, Texas, the group headed toward Naples for another engagement. A drunk driver in a pickup truck headed toward them in the wrong lane. Despite the efforts of bass singer Arnold Hyles, who was driving the Rangers’ car, there was a violent crash.

Hyles was severely injured in the wreck. Slater was killed instantly.

Four days later, funeral services for Slater were held at Hopewell Baptist Church near Geraldine. Many Gospel singers attended the funeral, including the Statesmen Quartet and the All-American Quartet.

While Slater’s career was cut tragically short, his influence certainly lives on. Younger generations may not be familiar with Slater and his peers, but each day they enjoy the fruits of those pioneers who sowed the seeds for the growing industry of Gospel music.

Source: Geraldine native Erman Slater was a Gospel music pioneer

More info: Erman Clark Slater

GOGR Music History

Inducted in 2005: Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sand Mountain produced Southern Gospel greats | GadsdenTimes.com

SG History 101 - Baritone Singers | Absolutely Gospel Music

GOGR Music History - The Statesmen Quartet

 

Close Harmony - A History of Southern Gospel Music, Vol. 1: 1920-1955Thanks To Calvary (Gospel Gold), Statesmen QuartetArnold Hyles & The Rangers Qt.In My Father's House

Listen: Close Harmony - A History of Southern Gospel Music, Vol. 1: 1920-1955 by Various Artists - Download Close Harmony - A History of Southern Gospel Music, Vol. 1: 1920-1955 on iTunes

Listen: Amazon.com: Close Harmony: History of Southern Gospel 1: VARIOUS ARTISTS: Music

Listen: Statesmen Quartet - Download Statesmen Quartet Music on iTunes

Listen: Amazon.com: Statesmen Quartet: Music

Listen: Amazon.com: Rangers Quartet: Songs, Albums, Pictures, Bios

 

 

 

 

 

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