Nashville, Tennessee – During the heyday of Gospel Music one group stood out above all the rest. One group stood for class and quality seemingly put together by God Himself. It seemed that even when those pesky personnel changes happened the cream of the crop were still attracted to this group. The Statesmen introduced to the world “Gospel Quartets” as entertainment by adding flourishes which thrilled their audiences with passionate singing, arm waving, hand clapping, and electrifying performances. This was uncommon behavior for traditional quartets. But, the new behavior attracted renewed interest from their audiences.
The leadership of this group receives most of the credit for its creation and creativity. Of course, I could be speaking of only one group and one man. That group and man would be Hovie Lister and the Statesmen Quartet. For decades this group set the standard by which all other groups were measured.
Around 1993 Hovie Lister and Bill Gaither wanted to revive this Legendary group and that is when Hovie Walker came into the picture once again. Hovie Walker was one of the Bass singers in the studio with The Gaithers Homecoming Video Series. Hovie Lister and Bill Gaither called Hovie Walker and told him what their plans were. They wanted him to join the Statesmen as the bass singer. Hovie Walker went over to get together with the group to see what it would sound like and Hovie Lister asked Jake Hess, “Is he the one that can do the job?” Jake responded, “He can.” Lister said to Walker “Then get your clothes and get on the bus.”
Now to the present day and the reasoning for the rebirth of the Statesmen. As it would happen there is only one man who could possibly even be considered for such a great undertaking. It would be a man who had been a Statesmen member and was the namesake of Hovie Lister. Now, Hovie Walker has a desire to honor that special group by forming a new Statesmen Quartet with that same class and quality of sound.
Hovie Walker stated, “Hovie and the Statesmen has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember with their music playing on the old record player in our home. In 1949 my parents decided to name their new born son after Hovie Lister, naming me Hovie Lynn. They had become friends with Hovie and they hoped I would grow up to be a piano player, however I turned out to be a Bass singer. Sometimes in concerts as Hovie played the piano he would call me up on stage and sit me on his knee while he played. As I grew older I began to sing in local groups that would sometimes open for the Statesmen. Hovie would always come by the record table to check on how I would sign my name. He would say, ‘I have got to approve of how you sign that name son, because it has to meet my standards.’ Then he would smile and say, ‘Your doing just fine, just fine.’ Hovie always had class and expected his name to have class too I guess.”
Hovie Walker is one of the greatest Bass singers to ever approach a microphone reaching lower notes than most any Bass singer today. Having performed with Gospel groups in the past, such as The Singing Americans, Willie Wynn and the Tennesseans, the Thrasher Brothers, and the Statesmen Quartet he has gained valuable experience in how a group should blend to have that classic quality sound of the Statesmen.
Joining Hovie Walker in this endeavor are his good friends Deon Unthank and former Statesmen Quartet Tenor, Wallace Nelms. With just about as many years in the Gospel Music industry as Hovie, Deon brings a smooth Baritone voice and the ability to blend which is necessary for a great quartet sound having experience singing with the Lesters and with his own group, The Sunday Edition, Deon is no stranger to bringing out that close harmony. As a student of vocal studies at the Stamps/Blackwood Conservatory of Music and the Steve Hurst School of Vocal Ministry he is well prepared to help Hovie bring the quality he is striving to reach. Wallace not only brings the warmth and feeling of past Statesmen tenors, but the class that comes from performing with Hovie Lister himself. Wallace, from Kingsport, TN, is college trained in music and computer science.
Unthank commented, “I am a very busy man in the Gospel Music industry, so I don’t want or need to sing with just another quartet, but when I heard Hovie’s dream of how he wants to honor the Statesmen Quartet, I knew that this wasn’t going to be just some average quartet, but something that would not only honor the Statesmen, but also bring glory to God, lifting His name with beautiful praise and a strong Gospel message. That’s something I look forward to being a part of.”
Nelms stated, “We want to keep a certain amount of the legacy that Hovie left us, but at the same time carve out a place for ourselves for our identity.”
One spot is left to fill, so Hovie, Deon, and Wallace are looking for a Jack Toney, Jake Hess quality lead to do select dates starting in 2016. This will be a part-time position performing at very select concerts. If you would like to audition for the remaining Lead position contact Hovie Walker firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at 615-855-1963.