The Jordanaires life and biography

The Jordanaires picture, image, poster

The Jordanaires biography

Date of birth : -
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Springfield, Missouri
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-02-15
Credited as : Gospel and country music group, played with Elvis Presley, Country Music Hall of Fame

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The Jordanaires are an American singing group formed in 1948 best known for backing many of Elvis Presley's recordings, along with working with many prominent country music stars.

Organized in 1948, the Jordanaires became a leading gospel quartet before serving as key contributors to the Nashville Sound. The group was formed in Springfield, Mo., by two young evangelists -- Bill Matthews (b. LaFollette, Tenn.; 1923) and his brother Monty (b. Pulaski, Ky.; 1927). Bass singer Culley Holt (b. McAlester, Okla.; 1925-1980) and baritone Bob Hubbard (b. Chaffee, Mo.; 1928) rounded out the original quartet.

Gordon Stoker (b. Gleason, Tenn., 1924), then a popular pianist with the WSM gospel ensemble the John Daniel Quartet, replaced pianist Bob Money in 1949. Before long he began singing lead and tenor, and after the Matthews brothers returned to Missouri early in the 1950s, the group reorganized. Stoker stayed on, mostly handling tenor duties, while second tenor Neal Matthews Jr. (no relation to Bill and Monty; b. Nashville, Tenn.; 1929-2000), baritone Hoyt Hawkins (b. Paducah, Ky.; 1927-1982), and bass Hugh Jarrett (b. Nashville, Tenn.; 1929) came on board by 1955. Ray Walker (b. Centerville, Miss.; 1934) replaced Jarrett in 1958, completing the winning Stoker-Matthews-Hawkins-Walker combination that anchored the group for more than two decades. (After Hawkins died, in 1982, Duane West joined, but as illness took its toll on him, he was replaced in 2000 by Louis Nunley. Curtis Young joined in 2000 following Matthews' death.)

By the mid-1950s, the Jordanaires had recorded for Decca and RCA Victor, gaining a reputation for spirited renditions of black gospel songs like "Noah," "My Rock" and "Dry Bones," and they continued to record spirituals on Capitol. In addition, the group had begun singing background on records by country hitmakers including Red Foley ("Just a Closer Walk With Thee"). Regular spots on the NBC network portion of the Grand Ole Opry and on Eddy Arnold Time, a popular syndicated TV show of the day, brought the famed quartet into households across the nation.

The Jordanaires have kept turning out solid gospel albums of their own -- albums that helped them win election to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998. But the group is best known for the signature background harmonies they have provided for dozens of singing stars. Individual members started recording with Elvis Presley in 1956, and after 1958, the foursome regularly backed him in the studio and on films into the early 1970s. Early Presley hits like "Don't Be Cruel," "Are You Lonesome Tonight" and "It's Now or Never" captured the group's special sound and working with Elvis in the studio and on network TV led to sessions with other rock & rollers, including Rick Nelson and Gene Vincent.

During the 1960s and beyond, the Jordanaires often worked as many as four sessions a day. Recordings they made with Ferlin Husky ("Gone," widely regarded as the first recording to embody the Nashville Sound), Jim Reeves ("He'll Have to Go") and Patsy Cline ("Crazy") best exemplified the smooth, pop-influenced side of Nashville's multi-faceted recording scene, while the sounds they added to hits ranging from Don Gibson's "Oh, Lonesome Me," Johnny Horton's "The Battle of New Orleans" and Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" to Conway Twitty's "Hello, Darlin'," Kenny Rogers' "Lucille" and George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today" proved the quartet's versatility. Along the way, the group also backed pop acts such as Connie Francis, Steve Lawrence & Edyie Gorme and Julie Andrews. The Jordanaires have been heard on Grammy-winning recordings in each of the last five decades, as well as on national television and radio ads such as Coca Cola's "We'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." Their voices have been heard on untold millions of records sold worldwide

The Jordanaires' contributions to the Nashville recording industry include the system of studio notation first popularized by Neal Matthews Jr. and known internationally as the Nashville Number System. Advocates for broadcasting and film performers, the Jordanaires were also instrumental in establishing the Nashville office of the AFTRA/SAG performers' union.

In the year 2001, the Jordanaires celebrated their 51st year in the music business and their election to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Frequent headliners in Las Vegas, they have made personal appearances worldwide, carrying country music around the globe. Their still busy schedule is a testament to their talent, their reputation and the demand for their work.


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