The Originals: A Wonderful Time Up There

The Originals: A Wonderful Time Up There

A few days ago, I told you about the very first recording of “What A Day That Will Be” by the Homeland Harmony Quartet in 1957. By 1957, the Homeland Harmony Quartet had more than ten years experience introducing songs that would go on to become classics.

The tenor and baritone positions in the Homeland Harmony Quartet were as stable as any fan could wish. Connor Hall covered the tenor part, and James McCoy was on the baritone part. The other positions were more like revolving doors. Many young singers and pianists pulled short stints with the Homeland Harmony Quartet before going on to other groups.

In 1947, the line-up happened to include long-time collaborators Lee Roy Abernathy and Shorty Bradford along with Aycel “A D” Soward singing bass.

Abernathy was one of those individuals who could do a lot of things and do them all well. Songwriting was on his list of musical gifts. The Homeland Harmony Quartet was the first group to record Abernathy’s “A Wonderful Time Up There” which was also known as “Gospel Boogie.” The song became so popular, one title wasn’t enough to describe it sufficiently. If you’ve ever heard it, you know the arrangement does not disappoint when it comes to the “boogie” part of the the alternate title, and of course, that sort of rhythm did not sit well with conservative church leaders in 1947. The controversy just made the song that much more popular which probably explains why it’s still popular enough to be recorded by groups today.

Some years later, Pat Boone would record “A Wonderful Time Up There” and make it a pop hit. Boone left out two of the verses, and most groups that have recorded it since follow his arrangement.

Here is the original version by the Homeland Harmony Quartet with all the verses and in all of it’s controversial glory.

Finally, like all of my articles in The Originals series, I will close with a list from SGHistory.com showing many of the artists who have recorded the song over the years.

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 SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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4 Comments

  1. Chris G.
    Reply January 15, 14:11 #1 Chris G.

    David,

    Thank you very much for your “Originals” blogs. I am enjoying hearing the old original recordings as well as appreciating your encyclopedic knowledge of Southern Gospel history.




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  2. Alan Kendall
    Reply January 15, 17:20 #2 Alan Kendall

    Lee Roy said in an interview (and I’m paraphrasing a little here), “Everybody that wrote or called me asked me for the sheet music to ‘that gospel boogie’. So I put ‘Gospel Boogie’ in parentheses under the title. The people really named it, and I guess I was just quick enough to catch it!”




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  3. Terry Franklin
    Reply January 15, 18:02 #3 Terry Franklin

    This is great! Thank you DBM for doing this series. This is rare stuff. What great arrangements, and what great rhythm these guys had! And also blend…notice how all their vowel sounds are identical. They sound like a unit. And there were no recording tricks in 1947! Simply amazing. Upload more, quick! I gotta hear more!!!




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  4. Darrell
    Reply January 16, 10:08 #4 Darrell

    This song was also recorded by the barbershop quartet Crossroads. They even added in a version of the first tenor “scat” that the Homeland Harmony Quartet added toward the end of the original song. Nice, upbeat version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb4Ew_V6S00




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