GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame

The GMA Foundation (GMAF) announced today that it will induct Johnny Cash, DeGarmo & Key, Golden Gate Quartet, and Bill “Hoss” Allen into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame on January 24, 2011.

“The impact this group of individuals has made on gospel music is immeasurable. It’s an honor to recognize these inductees for their contributions.” said Ed Harper, Chairman, GMA Foundation.

“I’m very excited about this year’s slate of inductees. All come from different cultures and backgrounds but have helped elevate gospel music to a much higher plateau throughout our universe which is in need of good news more than ever.” commented Tom Long, Chairman, GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame Committee.

The GMA Foundation (GMAF) will induct the honorees into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame on Monday, January 24, 2011, at Trinity Music City Auditorium in Hendersonville, TN at 6:00 PM. Admission is free to the public.

The GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame, established in 1971, has inducted more than 150 members since its inception. Previous inductees include Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Amy Grant, the Statler Brothers, the Winans, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Andrae Crouch, Sandi Patty, Vestal Goodman, Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Oak Ridge Boys, the Blackwood Brothers, Petra, Bill and Gloria Gaither, the Happy Goodman Family, Larry Norman, Pat Boone, Dottie Rambo, Evie, Larry Norman, Richard Smallwood, Jake Hess, The Lewis Family, Thomas A. Dorsey, the Cathedral Quartet, the Fairfield Four, Billy Graham and the Jordanaires. A full list of GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame Inductees is available at

Media Contact:
Aaron Crisler

GMA Contact:
Justin Fratt

About the Inductees:

From coffee houses to MTV, the legendary Christian rock duo of DeGarmo & Key did more than just leave their mark on the world of gospel music – they changed the very face of it.

Friends since the first grade, Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key grew up together in Memphis, Tenn., listening to “old blues guys” performing street-side on egg crates and apple boxes. At the age of 16, Eddie and Dana landed their first record deal. It was shortly after this record deal that the friends were brought to Christ, and the direction of their lives and careers took a sharp turn.

Over the next 17 years, DeGarmo & Key created 15 albums of faith-filled, blues-influenced rock music, earning seven GRAMMY and 17 Dove Award nominations. The duo created some of the first in-roads into the world of Christian music videos and was the first contemporary Christian artist to be aired on MTV. Inspired by the work of Larry Norman, the group consistently made it their goal to get their music and the message of the Gospel to those who did not know Christ, expanding the world of Christian music beyond the boundaries of their day. Billboard Magazine once raved that DeGarmo & Key’s albums contained “one of the most consistently inventive bodies of music in Christian music.”

Always looking for ways to use their music as a ministry, they also created a 13-week Sunday school curriculum based on songs from their album Go To the Top, worked with Zondervan to promote the NIV Student Bible, contributed efforts to the “True Love Waits” campaign and the Biblical Literacy Foundation, and gave away over 150,000 copies of their D & K album to unsaved youth.

DeGarmo and Key disbanded in 1995, but both Eddie and Dana continued to influence gospel music through their roles as executives – together the two co founded Forefront Records with Dan Brock. Today, Eddie continues as an executive in his role as President of EMI CMG Publishing, while Dana served as pastor of The Love of Christ Church, which he founded in Memphis. Dana Key passed away on Sunday, June 6, 2010.

The most popular of the Jubilee quartets, the Golden Gate Quartet started singing as the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet in the mid-’30s when they were students at Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Va. The members included Willie Johnson (baritone and narrator), Henry Owens (first tenor) William Langford (second tenor), and Orlandus Wilson (bass). Their harmonies became very sophisticated, laced with a heavy dose of jazz and a Mills Brothers influence right down to their vocal imitation of instruments. In fact, next to the Mills Brothers, they were probably the best at the “sounding like instruments” technique.

They built their reputation through performing on local radio shows and in churches. In 1937 the Gates signed to Victor’s Bluebird affiliate and applied their unique jazz-swing sound to gospel titles like “Go where I Send Thee,” “The Preacher and the Bear,” and “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.” On Aug. 4, 1937, they recorded an amazing 14 songs in two hours at the Charlotte Hotel in North Carolina. They performed in the same year on NBC Radio’s “Magic Key Hour.”

In June 1940, they recorded several sides with the legendary folk singer Leadbelly, released in 1941 on Bluebird’s parent label, Victor. By now they had dropped the Jubilee portion of their name, presenting themselves strictly as the Golden Gate Quartet. Though their recorded repertoire from 1937 to 1940 includes mostly gospel and Jubilee songs, they did record two pop-jazz 78s: “Stormy Weather” and “My Prayer.” One of the highlights of this period was a performance for President Franklin Roosevelt’s inauguration, which led to a number of appearances at the White House at the request of Eleanor Roosevelt.

In 1941 they moved to Columbia’s Okeh affiliate, and their entire recorded output during the war years was on that label. The most successful of these records was a version of “Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer” in 1943. Their biggest record success came in 1947 with the song “Shadrack,” and in 1948 the group appeared in the RKO musical “A Song Is Born,” starring Benny Goodman, Danny Kaye, and Louis Armstrong.

In 1959 the Golden Gate Quartet moved to Paris and landed a two-year deal to perform at the Casino de Paris. While based in Europe, they recorded for EMI-UK, Pathe Marconi in France, and EMI-Germany, creating more than 50 LPs. Over the years the group amassed a travelogue of 76 countries performed in. One of the truly great vocal groups, the Gates were cited as an inspiration to many rhythm and blues groups of the era.

Bill “Hoss” Allen was a man of paradox by any definition of the term. Although Allen was born into a wealthy Catholic family, he lived with his grandparents and was essentially raised by an African-American domestic who worked for his family. It was this woman who took the young Allen to church every Sunday where he first fell in love with black gospel music.

After graduating from Vanderbilt University with an English degree, Allen went on to establish himself in the world of radio. In the mid 1950s, Hoss Allen established himself as a deejay for WLAC’s 50,000 watt radio station, a powerful entity that had broadcast capabilities stretching from Michigan to Mobile, Ala.. Allen soon gained a reputation for playing the newest releases and is even credited for later helping to jumpstart the careers of such greats as James Brown and Jimi Hendrix through his airplay.

By early 1975, “the Hossman” had experienced several changes in management and was the lone jockey working at WLAC who had been there as long as five years. It was at this time that Allen reformatted his program as “Early Morning Gospel Time With the Hossman,” a showcase for national and regional black gospel acts. It was through this program that Allen was able to influence the world of black gospel music unlike any of his predecessors, providing a platform for the music, which previously had not existed. The combination of Allen’s popularity and the far-reaching airwaves of WLAC allowed for an unparalleled opportunity, giving black gospel music a powerful voice unlike ever before.

Allen continued his gospel program until 1993, more than a decade after WLAC dropped all other music in favor of talk radio. Throughout his nearly 50 years in the industry, Hossman contributed more than just music to his listeners. In an era when both laws and social mores kept blacks and whites apart, Hossman taught his listeners that music was colorblind.


Born Feb. 25, 1932 in Kingsland, Ark., Johnny Cash was born John R. Cash, one of six children belonging to Ray and Carrie Rivers Cash.  Music was an integral part of everyday life in the Cash household ranging from his mother’s folk songs and hymns to the work songs from the fields and nearby railroad yards.  He absorbed these sounds like a sponge which later led to his inspiration for such hits as “Pickin’ Time,” “Five Feet High and Rising,” “Get Rhythm” and many others.

After leaving the U.S. Airforce Cash auditioned as a solo artist for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records in hopes of recording Gospel music.  Mr. Phillips saw a different opportunity however, and the Tennessee Three was born with Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant.  This led to a life of stardom and struggles of addiction, which eventually led Johnny back to where his feet were grounded as a child…the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Gospel music became a natural part of Johnny’s TV Shows, road shows and the central part of his life.  He recorded many Gospel albums such as Cash: Ultimate Gospel, Man in White, My Mother’s Hymn Book, The Gospel According to Johnny Cash on DVD, a narration of the New Testament on DVD called Chapter and Verse and did a walking The Bible photo tour and A movie filmed in the Holy Land called The Gospel Road.

Johnny Cash said that he considered his narration of the Bible to be among his most important works because reading or listening to the Scripture aloud is a wonderful way to receive the encouragement and hope found in the Word of God.  Johnny Cash sold over 60 million records and passed away Sept. 23, 2003 at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, TN.

About the GMA Foundation:
The GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a not-for-profit educational institution (501c3) working in connection with the Gospel Music Association (GMA).  The GMAF is dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of gospel music and its impact on our culture by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience, as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to gospel music.

Founded in 1964, the Gospel Music Association serves as the face and voice for the Christian/Gospel music community and is dedicated to exposing, promoting and celebrating the gospel through music of all styles.  The GMA community includes agents, artists, church leaders, managers, promoters, radio personnel, record company executives, retailers, songwriters and other industry visionaries.  The GMA produces the GMA Dove Awards and IMMERSE.  For more information about the GMA, please visit


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