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All Male Chorus of Blacksburg

Practicing at Trinity A.M.E. Church in Blacksburg, SC, 2005
Practicing at Trinity A.M.E. Church in Blacksburg, SC, 2005

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The All Male Chorus of Blacksburg is recognized as a group with deep roots in African-American a cappella gospel traditions. One day in 1974, Howard Thompson visited Harold Gaffney and they discussed the relative few young men that were attending church in the area. Thompson came up with the idea of forming an all male gospel group to remedy the situation. Gaffney put the word out that the first practice for a new all male chorus was to be held in the basement of his home on a certain Friday night. That evening, February 17, 1974, the All Male Chorus of Blacksburg was organized under the direction of Mr. Howard Thompson. Though only four young men turned out for the first meeting, sixteen showed up for their second practice session.

Keeping alive an old-time gospel music tradition, the All Male Chorus of Blacksburg gave their first performance in March of 1974 at the Youngs Grove Baptist Church in Blacksburg. Using only their voices and hands, they created a magnificent and moving sound. Though the Chorus has lost longtime members Clyde Richardson and Forest Hamrick, who passed away in 1990 and 1994, respectively, the group presently has ten members, five of whom have been together since the beginning - Howard Thompson, Harold Gaffney, Bob King, Marshall Logan, and John Thompson. The other five members are Eugene Thompson, Sr., Elester Sawyer, Marvin Tate, Eddie Hipps, and S. L. Ford. The All Male Chorus is very active in and around the South Carolina Piedmont. They sing to help people in need, especially to raise funds for those whose homes have been lost to natural disaster or fire, for children needing extraordinary medical treatment, and for church building programs.

They also travel throughout the country to communities in Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania, sounding their voices and clapping their hands to “lift up the name of the Lord.” The Chorus received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 1995.

Audio   (View Transcript)

bullet icon "I Love to Call My Savior's Name" (01:37)

From one of the group's first recordings "Give God a Chance."

bullet icon "Feel Him Moving" (01:43)

From the recording "God is Always Standing By."

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