SGMA Hall Of Fame: Who Will Be In The Class of 2019?

SGMA Hall Of Fame: Who Will Be In The Class of 2019?

The Southern Gospel Music Hall Of Fame mailed out nomination ballots for the class of 2019 this past week. Voters will submit their nominations by March 15. An SGMA committee will then whittle the list down to determine the final group of 2019 inductees. The 2019 class will be formally inducted during a showcase segment at the National Quartet Convention this fall.

Over the past few years, the process has resulted in two living and two deceased individuals being added to the Hall Of Fame. The limit to four total has been the norm since the the annual induction ceremony became part of NQC week in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. In previous years, more (or less) than four could be inducted per year.

If the number of inductees per year is going to remain at four for the foreseeable future, I wish the SGMA would stop requiring that two be deceased. This restriction limits the SGMA’s ability to honor deserving individuals while they are still alive.

The SGMA’s criteria requires that voters consider each person’s scope of activity, their span of influence, their influence on others, both the quality AND quantity of their output, their devotion to others, and their overall professionalism. One interesting line clarifies that voters should not necessarily rule someone out if their conduct is entirely self-promoting, assuming they meet all other criteria and possess the requisite level of fame to be considered.

With this in mind, my process in determining who to nominate is to create a list of those who aren’t yet in, and then I recommend the four who I consider to be the most famous. After all, the word “fame” is right there in the name.

The names I am considering this year include Conrad Cook, William Lee Golden, Roy McNeal, Duane Allen, Jim Murray, Michael English, Mark Lowry, John W. Peterson, Marvin P. Dalton, Dianne Wilkinson, and Don Butler. These are in no particular order.

Are there others I should consider? If so, please leave a comment and let me know!

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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. Reply February 09, 12:29 #1 Scotty Searan

    I believe that there should be 5 deceased and 5 living inductees to the SGMA Hall Of Fame

  2. Reply February 09, 14:05 #2 Daniel

    I’m surprised Jim Murray isn’t inducted already!

    From your list, I’d say Roy McNeal, Duane Allen, Jim Murray, and Dianne Wilkinson.

    • Reply February 09, 15:24 David Bruce Murray Author

      I’m not that surprised that Jim isn’t in yet. The SGMA has traditionally shunned any artist who sang Southern Gospel successfully but then transitioned to CCM and or any form of secular music.

      There are no members of the GVB in the Hall Of Fame aside from Bill Gaither.

      Original Imperials members Jake Hess and Henry Slaughter are in the HOF, but none who remained with the Imps after Jake left are in it.

      And obviously, none of the current Oaks are in despite their success in the 1960s and 1970s plus all the gospel music they’ve recorded since 2000.

    • Reply May 08, 14:54 Lander Waid

      About every other year I ask why the fifth member(Jackie Marshall) of the greatest gospel quartet ever(the 1954 Blackwood Bros. has not been selected. The four other members are enshrined. Jackie passed away last year and I really thought he might get in this time. It must be politics again.

      • Reply May 08, 16:02 David Bruce Murray Author

        Knowing several of the board members, I don’t really think it’s politics at all. The major block in getting some of these people into the hall is the limitation to four new names per year. I’d like to think anyone who has been touring continuously for the past 40 years and owns their own group for the past 20 would be an obvious addition. The problem is there are people who have been in the business even longer who are ahead of those I just referenced. It’s a too slow process.

        They really should put about 10 people in per year for the next two years or so just to get caught up, then maybe drop back to 5-6 per year.

        Otherwise, it may be another ten years before we see people like Kelly Nelon, Brian Free, Karen Peck, etc. added to the hall, while people like Jack Marshall who fell through the cracks will likely never be added.

  3. Reply February 09, 16:55 #3 Tony Watson

    I’d have to see a list of who is already in to be able to give that some thought. On their website it’s listed by year of induction but there is no list that I can find of all of the inductees.

    • Reply February 09, 18:53 David Bruce Murray Author

      If you click the Hall Of Fame link at without selecting a specific year, it shows you the entire list of all members sorted by last name.

    • Reply March 12, 16:51 Travis Bridgeman click on “Hall of Fame”

      • Reply May 11, 17:26 Lynn Carter

        Travis, Can you shed a light on why Cecil, Ron, Roy Blackwood and Jackie Marshall are being left out? While the GMA has them?

        • Reply May 11, 18:34 David Bruce Murray Author

          The Blackwood Brothers were inducted into the GMA Hall Of Fame as a group. The only individual Blackwood family member inducted into the GMA Hall Of Fame is James Blackwood. J D Sumner is also a member.

          The SGMA does not induct groups, only individuals.

  4. Reply February 09, 18:05 #4 J E Butler

    If practical, I would be inclined to induct the Oak Ridge Boys as a group… While full-time SG, they were great and today….more of living legends and ambassadors for SG…

    • Reply February 09, 18:54 David Bruce Murray Author

      The SGMA only inducts individuals, not entire groups. I actually prefer this over the GMA method of inducting both groups and individuals, as it prevents people who were only briefly with a group from claiming they are in the hall of fame. I’ve even seen people claiming to be “two time” members of the GMA’s hall of fame, which is just confusing.

  5. Reply February 11, 10:30 #5 Alan K

    Jack Clark needs to be in the Hall of Fame. He is a widely respected pianist and teacher with 60+ years in the business, and a man behind the success of many of today’s top singers and musicians.

  6. Reply February 11, 16:12 #6 Gary Cooper

    I think that Gerald Wolfe would be a very worthy candidate for the HOF.

    • Reply February 11, 21:56 David Bruce Murray Author

      I’m sure Gerald Wolfe will get there eventually. He’s been in the business almost as long as Mark Trammell, who was inducted last year.

      • Reply February 11, 22:40 David Bruce Murray Author

        …I should have added, I made the comparison to Trammell, because Wolfe has similarly been in top-notch groups for the bulk of his career: Cats and GV from 1986 to the present. Trammell just got started a few years sooner! :)

  7. Reply February 11, 18:18 #7 Brad

    Along with Jim Murray, I would consider Gary McSpadden. He was a founding member of the Imperials and the Gaither Vocal Band as well as member of the Oak Ridge Boys and Bill Gaither Trio. I would consider people like Mike Holcomb and Eddie Deitz ahead of Mark Lowry although I’m sure Mark will get there eventually. Even Ivan Parker, Brian Free, Karen Peck and Kelly Nelon Clark have a longer presence in SG than Mark Lowry. Michael English certainly has the resume with the Happy Goodmans, Singing Americans and the GVB as does Roy McNeal, Duane Allen and William Lee Golden.

    • Reply February 11, 22:35 David Bruce Murray Author

      Thanks for the suggestions!

      I don’t really see Gary McSpadden as ever being a contender for the HOF, even though landing with such major groups is certainly noteworthy. In all the groups McSpadden was in, it was other members who would have been considered to be the main draw: Smitty & Willie with the Oaks, Jake with the Imps, Bill & Gloria with the trio, and then of course, there was Steve, then Larnelle, and Michael during his GVB tenure.

      It’s difficult to make Inspirations/Lowry comparisons, I’ll admit. There’s less overlap between their respective fans than most that would fall under the Southern Gospel umbrella. I think more people in the world have heard of Mark Lowry than Mike Holcomb or Eddie Dietz, and my greater argument in favor of Lowry would be the lack of Gaither Vocal Band alumni currently in the Hall Of Fame. The Inspirations have a few. The Gaither Vocal Band has one, and no one can argue they haven’t been a major force in Southern Gospel as well as the inspirational Christian genre (mostly prior to 1990.

      Also, I love all the names you mentioned (Kelly, Karen, Ivan, and Brian), but your statement that they’ve been doing it longer than Lowry is not correct. Lowry was born in the mid-1950s and started his singing career earlier than most. I have a September 1970 Singing News where he is listed with Skylite Talent along with the Kingsmen, Rebels, Segos, Inspirations, and others. He also released his first album that same year on the Impact label. I think he was 14 or so.

      Finally, you mentioned resume with regard to Michael English, but for me, it’s not so much about resume. It’s about the two most famous living individuals and the two most famous deceased individuals with Southern Gospel connections who aren’t yet in the Hall Of Fame.

      • Reply February 12, 08:55 Brad

        All good points! I guess since I had never heard of Mark Lowry until he joined the GVB I tend to consider that his start in southern gospel even though I heard and read later that he had been singing for a long time before that. I’m not sure that other members already being inducted should hinder deserving people from receiving votes, but I do see your point about wanting more GVB members in the Hall. I guess I will always consider resume and longevity more important than fame because fame can sometimes come from things other than singing southern gospel music, but you are correct that it is the Hall of Fame so it does have to be considered. Thanks for the post and the reply!

        • Reply February 12, 13:38 David Bruce Murray Author

          Another point I haven’t really raised is that the HOF is running about ten years behind. A backlog is building up.

          We have numerous well-known artists who have been traveling for 30+ years, and always with major groups, but we have to say so-in-so is ahead of them.

          It’s too bad the SGMA has limited it to four per year these past few years. As Scotty wrote above, I’d like to see about ten go in per year for the next 3-4 years, and then maybe skip a year if it appears we are sufficiently caught up at that point.

          I like to see people honored while they are still alive if at all possible, and not just put some into the HOF as a knee-jerk reaction during the next voting cycle after they die.

          • February 12, 15:28 Brad

            That is very true. For example, if people like Tracy Stuffle and Norman Wilson were Hall of Fame worthy (and I believe that they certainly were) after their death, then they were worthy before their death. That means that Libbi Stuffle and Reagan, Larry, and Mike Riddle are deserving right now as well. The only issue that I see with ten per year is that it might be viewed by some as less of an honor if that many were going in each year. At the very least, I think it could be six per year with maybe four living and two deceased.

  8. Reply February 11, 19:36 #8 Josh Franks

    These are good choices. I also would like to include Ruben Bean of the McKameys for this years inductions. Peg was inducted last year and this year they will be retiring. Ruben is well deserving of being honored in this year

  9. Reply February 26, 08:44 #9 Loletta Grant

    I don’t think a name mentioned should not be in the SGMA hall of fame all are deserving. The only way any of them can go in is by vote and you have to be a member of The SGMA. If you’re not a member join and vote for the ones you think are most deserving. This year was one of the hardest for me to narrow down – so many to choose from.

  10. Reply April 09, 19:26 #10 Josh Evans

    I wish The Hall Of Fame would induct Reagan Riddle because he has written a bunch of songs and gave other groups #1 hits

  11. Reply May 11, 17:28 #11 Lynn Carter

    It is a shame Ron Blackwood or RW Blackwood JR, and Cecil Blackwood
    is not even considered

  12. Reply May 14, 09:43 #12 Kyle Boreing

    If they wait too long on some of these worthy contenders, they’ll have more deceased nominees than they will living….

  13. Reply April 29, 16:48 #13 Doug Bell

    Jessie Dixon, Armond Morales, Claude Hopper, Lillie knauls

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