Little Jan Buckner-Goff among 2010 Hall of Fame inductees

Written by Rhonda on November 4, 2010 – 1:03 pm -

Little Jan Buckner-Goff of Hiram, Ga. attended her induction into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame at Dollywood recently in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
“When you hear the words – Southern gospel music, you may think Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters,” said SGMA executive director Charlie Waller.  “When you hear the name, Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters, you think Wendy, Jerri  (Morrison) and Little Jan, because they were together without a singing personnel change longer than any other group in the nation.”
Buckner-Goff began singing her way into the hearts of many at the age of 15 by sharing the change that took place in her heart when God stepped in and took control, he said.
“Little Jan is blessed with an incredible vocal ability that climbs above the clouds, but she is a lady who could never be more down to earth,” he said. “Although she is a gifted singer, songwriter and musician, her disarming charm and engaging humility prove her to be anything but a ‘star.’
“God called Wendy home in June of 1996,” he said. “Devastated by their loss, Jerri and Little Jan found themselves at a poignant crossroads. Jerri decided she would no longer travel. However, after 38 years with Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters, Little Jan still had a passion in her heart that would not allow her to stop singing.”
Buckner-Goff’s talents have been rewarded with several of her songs being nominated for Grammy’s, he said.
“She was recognized as the Southern Gospel Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year on two separate occasions,” he said. “She had the number one song in Cash Box with ‘Walk Around Me Jesus’ and Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters had the Best TV Commercial nationwide for Stanback with front-page recognition in the Wall Street Journal.”
Greater Vision performed “It Pays to Pray” in her honor.
Her husband, Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame member Jerry Goff presented her induction.
“Wow! Do you know what WOW stands for? The wonder of wonders and this is such a wonderful night, Buckner-Goff said. “I thank God the very first thing, because that is the reason I stand before you tonight. Thank you Father for allowing this wonderful privilege. Thanks to the SGMA and everyone that voted for me.”
Buckner-Goff said that she was orphaned as a little girl when a drunk driver killed her mother.
“Within a three-year period, I was placed in 10 different orphanages and foster homes,” she said. “I ended up with an aunt and uncle. He was a pastor of a local church in Atlanta, Ga. called Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.
Many members of the church attended the event and cheered at its mention.
“That bunch I go to church with right there,” she said. “They are the ones that encourage me and support me. I can’t do without my home church – Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.
“One day Wendy Bagwell and his family along with Rita, Wendy, Melba, and his son Ronnie joined that church along with Geraldine Morrison and her family,” she said. “That is where I fell in love with Ronnie and we were married and I began my family. My daughter Roneice is here tonight with her husband Phil Bradley. I love you my darling. You are the gift that God has given to me.
She said that she would not have been able to travel without Roneice and her late husband Ronnie keeping the home fires burning.
“Who in their wildest imagination would have dreamed I would walk on stage at Carnegie Hall and sing gospel music or sing around the world,” she said. “Then in 1996, Wendy died and two years later, Ronnie died, the absolute prince of my life. I did not think I would walk on stage again. My world came crashing in.”
Buckner-Goff met Jerry Goff in 2004 and they were married in 2005, she said.
“Who would have ever dreamed – from the orphanage to the SGMA Hall of Fame,” she said. “What a privilege and honor. The very first song I ever walked on stage and sang with Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters was ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus More Than Anything.’ This song still defines my life today. It speaks what my life wants to tell you. ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus Than Anything this world can afford.’ Thank you so very much.”
The other 2010 SGMA class of inductees are Danny Gaither, Sam Goodman, Bill Hefner, Connie Hopper and Arthur Smith.
Country Music Hall of Famer Dolly Parton received the James D. Vaughn Impact Award at the event.
The Southern Gospel Music Association is a non-profit organization that maintains the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame, the only facility honoring this genre of music, for the historic preservation of the accomplishments of the music and its people. Museum hours match those of Dollywood. Donations are tax-deductible. Individuals and businesses may donate to assist with honoring inductees with special bronze plaques that are displayed in the Hall of Fame. For more information about the museum or its inductees, visit www.sgma.org.


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