Over the past week or so, I have spent a good bit of time researching names for the Southern Gospel Music Association’s Hall Of Fame nominations. I take it seriously, because I consider it to be the most prestigious recognition anyone in Southern Gospel can receive. After much agonizing, I’ve finally reached a decision.
My two nominees in the Living category are William Lee Golden and Mark Trammell.
In the Deceased category, I am nominating Marvin P Dalton and Don Butler.
William Lee Golden is America’s most iconic baritone singer both in terms of his physical appearance and his fame that grew as soon as he joined the Oak Ridge Boys in 1965. Golden remained with the Oaks through their rise to national popularity in Country music in the 1980s. He took a break of a decade or so, exploring solo work in the interim, and then returned to the Oaks in 1996. It was with Golden’s return that the Oaks began recording all-gospel albums again, though they had continued to stage gospel music in the traditional southern style during the 1980s and 1990s. As a result, Golden’s fame extends beyond the typical boundaries of the Southern Gospel market into the mainstream. As the most recognizable member of the Oak Ridge Boys who took Southern Gospel to the masses, Golden should be the first member of the post-1960s Oak Ridge Boys to take his place in the SGMA HOF.
Mark Trammell is distinguished by having sung with three of the most beloved Southern Gospel quartets (Kingsmen, Cathedrals, and Gold City) and co-founding one of Southern Gospel’s favorite trios (Greater Vision). In 2002, Trammell formed another trio that bore his name. They ultimately transitioned to a quartet format in 2010. Then, in addition to operating his own group full-time, Trammell became the resident “living legend” in the Second Half Quartet, a part-time group which includes members of Greater Vision and bass singer Pat Barker. Trammell has made every group he joined better. His impact on Southern Gospel music has been substantial, and for this, he should be a member of the SGMA HOF.
Marvin P. Dalton’s name may not be one that fans will instantly recognize, but they’re very familiar with the songs he has written. Almost every quartet tenor has sung “Oh What A Savior” and “Looking For A City,” and they’ve been judged by how well they sang those songs. Dalton wrote them both as well as many other songs. Dalton also sang with the Hartford Quartet. While others may be admitted to the SGMA HOF for appearing in front of fans as a singer, Dalton should be included for giving so many others a song to sing.
Don Butler was a co-founder of the GMA in 1964 and served that organization for many years. He also served as president of Sumar Talent Agency, vice-president for Stamps-Baxter School of music, and chairman of the board of directors for the International Gospel Music Hall Of Fame. Additionally, Butler held executive positions with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the National Music Educators Association. Butler administered music catalogs for several major publishers, sang with several groups including the Sons Of Song, and produced several major television productions including Singing Time In Dixie and the GMA Dove Awards. The SGMA’s failure to induct Butler before now is a surprising oversight. His admission to the SGMA HOF is long overdue.