The Southern Gospel Music Association is currently accepting nominees for the Hall Of Fame. Each member of the SGMA is asked to submit two living and two deceased individuals for consideration. My 2021 nominees are the same as my 2020 nominees. The article below is identical to one I published last year, except Karen Peck’s count of number one songs with New River is now 17 rather than 16.
I am pleased to be nominating:
1. comedian/songwriter and former Gaither Vocal Band baritone Mark Lowry
2. former Uncle Alf & The LeFevres/Rex Nelon Singers and current Karen Peck & New River soprano Karen Peck Gooch
3. Gospel Music Association and Sons Of Song founder Don Butler, and
4. author and columnist Bob Terrell
Mark Lowry’s first album on the Impact label was released in 1970 when he was only 12 years old. Lowry was also represented by Skylite Talent Agency at this time alongside other top gospel artists. By 1988, Lowry’s entertaining combination of stand-up comedy and singing had attracted the attention of Bill Gaither who invited him to join the Gaither Vocal Band.
Lowry was instrumental in the success of the Gaither Homecoming Series beginning in 1991, while simultaneously carrying on a solo/comedy career including both audio and video releases for Word Music. He continued to headline his own tours after leaving the GVB in 2001 and after returning to the GVB from 2009-2013. In addition to singing, Lowry wrote the lyrics to the most popular Christmas song of the modern era, “Mary Did You Know”, which has been recorded by dozens of artists spanning various genres. In recent years, Lowry has remained in the public eye through his successful podcast series.
As a young girl, Karen Peck attended the all-night concert events in the Atlanta, GA area and dreamed of singing with the famous LeFevre Family when she grew up. Around 1979, she joined Uncle Alf And The LeFevres. The original LeFevres had changed their name to The Rex Nelon Singers in 1977. In 1981, she left Uncle Alf’s group and joined the Nelons. Over the next ten years, she sang her way into the hearts of fans.
In 1991, Karen launched a mixed Southern Gospel group called Karen Peck And New River. The group has celebrated 17 number one songs on the monthly Singing News radio airplay chart over the past 30 years. Karen is also a successful songwriter, co-host of the Gospel Music USA television show, and an occasional actress.
Bob Terrell was a noted newspaper columnist with the Asheville Citizen-Times in Asheville, NC from 1949-1986 and became a regular columnist for Singing News after that publication launched in 1969. Terrell wrote his first book in 1971, a biography of J. D. Sumner initially titled Gospel Music Is My Life which has since been updated several times to include the rest of Sumner’s career and is now titled The Life And Times Of J. D. Sumner. Terrell authored several more books including histories of The Chuck Wagon Gang and The Inspirations as well as what is arguably Southern Gospel’s most cherished anecdotal history, The Music Men (1990). Terrell also traveled extensively with Rev. Billy Graham and conducted tours to the Holy Land.
Don Butler was a co-founder of the Gospel Music Association 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 (the organization which produces the annual Grammy Awards) and the National Music Educators Association.
Butler also administered music catalogs for several major publishers, sang with several groups including the Sons Of Song (which he co-founded), and produced several major television productions including Singing Time In Dixie and the GMA Dove Awards.