Announcing The Rebirth Of The Imperials

Announcing The Rebirth Of The Imperials

Ellenboro, North Carolina (April 1, 2016) At the height of his career with Hovie Lister and the Sensational Statesmen, lead singer Jake Hess forsook all to launch a new venture in Gospel Music. Hess’ desire was to form a group that would start at the very peak of the industry from the beginning. Even though he only sang with them for a few brief years, The Imperials stood in the spotlight in the decades that followed not only in the Southern Gospel world, but also in the emerging Contemporary Christian market. They took the foundation established by “Gospel Quartets” like the Statesmen and Blackwood Brothers to an entirely new level by adding modern harmonies, flashy costumes and appearances with none other than Elvis Presley himself. This was unheard of for first generation quartets. But, the new sounds attracted a fresh, younger audience.

After a few years, three constant faces emerged in the Imperials: Hess’ hand-selected, original bass singer Armond Morales; baritone David Will; and tenor Jim Murray. This line-up, supported by a rotating cast of lead singers including Russ Taff, Paul Smith, and Jonathan Pierce blazed the trail for all the contemporary male vocal groups that followed including the Gaither Vocal Band, NewSong, and 4Him.

In their final years, a younger group including Armond Morales’ son carried on the Imperials name. That is when David Murray came into the picture. David met Jim Murray and David Will at a showcase during the National Quartet Convention that highlighted the younger group. They all laughed about the fact that combining David Will’s first name and Jim Murray’s last name would result in David Murray’s name. Later, David Murray would form a lasting friendship with the younger members as they ultimately dissolved the Imperials and moved on to sing with other groups who would ultimately appear on The Gaithers Homecoming Video Series.

davidFast-forward to the present, and the rationale for bringing the Imperials name back to life. Only one man could ever pull off such an accomplishment. That would be the man whose name shared such a close similarity to not just one, but two former members of the Imperials. It is David Murray’s utmost wish to pay tribute to the Imperials of old by forming a brand new group known simply as The Imperials.

David Murray commented, “I remember hearing the Imperials on the radio throughout my high school and college years. From the first time I took a genuine interest in music, the Imperials were constantly part of the mix. Meeting Jim Murray and David Will several years ago was simply a confirmation of my destiny. I knew I would be directly associated with the Imperials legacy at some point later in my life. That time is now.”

David Murray is a less than average singer with a very limited range, so what could his role possibly be in launching the Imperials? Well, you may not know this, but Murray can also play piano. He’s quick to humbly point out that his talent at the keys is nowhere close to the level of former Imperials pianists like Henry Slaughter and Joe Moscheo, but he knows a few decent licks and has a great understanding of chord structure. Murray’s thirty-three years of experience playing keys for local groups in the Ellenboro, North Carolina area like Share, Turning Point, Southern Sounds, and the Foothills Choir combined with his stage time with popular regional groups like the Carolina Quartet and the Pine Ridge Boys has prepared him to take his talents to another level as the head of a major group.

kyleJoining David Murray in this venture are his long-time friend and fellow contributor Kyle Boreing; the legendary Gaither Homecoming singer/songwriter Woody Wright; and a tenor singer whose voice can only be described as the great former Statesmen tenor Rosie Rozell reincarnated, the one and only John Rulapaugh.

With just about as many local and regional credits to his name as David, Kyle Boreing’s smooth Baritone voice will be the glue that holds all the harmony together. Kyle cut his teeth in groups like Acclaim and the Rusty Van Band, and has shared the stage with the Oak Ridge Boys on several occasions. He can’t wait to tackle some classic Imperials material. In addition to contributing his vocal talents, Kyle will serve as co-manager of the Imperials along with David.

Both David and Kyle believe Woody Wright’s and John Rulapaugh’s established credentials will immediately open doors of opportunity for The Imperials. Wright, as you may know, has performed in all genres of Christian music, and has tried out all the hairstyles of a lead singer.littlewoody

Rulapaugh, who sang first with the Dove Brothers and most recently with Freedom Quartet, brings his business savvy as a Pigeon Forge property rental mogul and former Sevier County, Tennessee politician to this latest version of The Imperials. If he can’t talk a concert promoter into opening a door with his shrewd negotiating skills, he’ll bust one down with his incisive wit.

Boreing commented, “I have worked tirelessly promoting my solo recordings to the industry and setting up connections as a blogger and worship leader in the local church. I don’t have time to manage just any group, but David convinced me a new version of The Imperials would be a winner. To quote the immortal J D Sumner (and give us one more familiar name for the press release to highlight with a contrasting text treatment), I CAN’T WAIT!”

Wright mentioned, “We want to sound just like the Imperials to a certain extent, but we also want to carry on their tradition of blazing new trails and creating new styles of Christian music. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just leave you with this hint: Bluegrass Polka Gospel’s time has finally come!”

John RulapaughRulapaugh stated, “When David and Kyle approached me with this idea, I thought they were the two most delusional people on the planet (aside from John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum). It sounded preposterous at first and I thought they were surely pulling my leg. Ultimately, they won me over to the idea when I realized they really, really WERE serious about it. This is gonna be huge!”

One spot is left to fill. David and Kyle are looking for an Armond Morales/Ian Owens sort of bass singer to complete the group. They approached Owens about making a return, but his reaction was quick and to the point. His exact words were “You’re out of your mind!”

Offers are now pending to Bill Gaither and Gerald Wolfe. Whichever one says “yes” first will get the job. In the highly unlikely event that both men decline, other bass singers are invited to audition in the green room precisely two hours before the first performance of the new Imperials at a date and site not yet determined.

Category Announcements

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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  1. James Hales
    Reply April 01, 08:52 #1 James Hales

    Thank you for the smile! This was a great read! LOL!

  2. djsfromcleveland
    Reply April 01, 09:24 #2 djsfromcleveland

    you really had me going there for a moment. i was thinking, you are kidding me, right! LOLOL

  3. Aaron Swain
    Reply April 01, 10:24 #3 Aaron Swain

    Hilarious! :)

  4. Jerry Boor
    Reply April 01, 10:41 #4 Jerry Boor

    Oh, wow, I forgot it was April Fool’s Day! Having seen the Imperials live in concert many times, I was looking forward to this. But inviting Bill Gaither and Gerald Wolfe to sing bass in a blog, I should have immediately known better. Nice idea, though.

  5. djsfromcleveland
    Reply April 01, 10:58 #5 djsfromcleveland

    Is that plan to start up the Statesmen again still going through, or did they drop that?

  6. Joe Mannon
    Reply April 01, 11:22 #6 Joe Mannon

    You had me until you got to John Rulapaugh. That was good, David!

  7. Judy Wills
    Reply April 01, 12:47 #7 Judy Wills

    Sounds like a fine plan, but does that mean that Freedom Quartet is now a BUST?

  8. joshvanklomp
    Reply April 01, 13:15 #8 joshvanklomp

    You had me going until I got to Kyle (sorry Kyle). Two bloggers from one site putting together a group with the Imperials name? No chance.

  9. Cyle Cornish
    Reply April 01, 14:45 #9 Cyle Cornish

    Can I try out for the bass job if Bill and Gerald turn you down?

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 01, 16:09 David Bruce Murray Author

      Yes sir. Just send me a head shot and a demo MP3 of you singing “Big God.” :)

  10. Chris G.
    Reply April 01, 15:18 #10 Chris G.


    Thanks for the great April 1st story. To continue along your line, I will be preparing to audition for the bass position when the new Imperials perform in Albuquerque.

  11. Robert York
    Reply April 01, 16:05 #11 Robert York

    Folks are thrilled The Imperials are returning I heard the big announcement on radio this afternoon.

  12. Michael Booth
    Reply April 01, 23:21 #12 Michael Booth

    Well played boys!!! You had me for a while.

  13. Dean Adkins
    Reply April 01, 23:35 #13 Dean Adkins

    I’m surprised that you didn’t contact John Crenshaw for the bass position, especially after you heard his dulcet tones last week at the WLOSGMH Convention.

  14. Sherrill
    Reply April 03, 23:37 #14 Sherrill

    You had me until Bill Gaither & Gerald Wolfe ! That was great!!

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