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The Charioteers
The Charioteers
Gospel purists may feel that what was done to the Charioteers is something like trying to turn a chariot into a Corvette. The black gospel group, newly transformed into a vocal pop group by enterprising record company executives, failed to turn the desired commercial quarter with the momentum of the Ink Spots. An early vehicle for lead tenor Billy Williams, who would have an even more successful career on his own, the Charioteers left behind a respectable recorded legacy nonetheless in both the gospel and pop genres. The group was first formed in Ohio in 1930, and by 1937 had settled into a vocal lineup of Williams, second tenor Ed Jackson, baritone Ira Williams, and bass Howard Daniels, with piano accompanist Jimmy Sherman. Opportunities to record began after the group vanquished all contenders in a Ohio quartet contest in 1934, most notably getting a chance to cut a pair of songs for Decca that was part of the contest prize. Vocalion began actually paying the group to record several years later, resulting in a fine collection of black gospel material including jubilees, spirituals, and folk tunes such as "Wade in the Water" and "Ezekiel Saw de Wheel." The Charioteers continued in this direction until signing a contract with Columbia in 1940.
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