[Editor’s note: members as of June 2017]
Terry Carter began singing professionally in 1972, when he sang with Michael English as part of the Singing Samaritans. In April of 1979, Carter, his long-time friend (the late Ray Bullard), and his cousin (Ron Crawford) started a new group. Other members of this group included Benny Smith, Gary Burdette and Jeff Riggan. After writing down several names, they decided to call the group the Anchormen, because they were all anchored in Christ Jesus.
In 1981, Carter met Tim Bullins, who was the drummer for the Singing Americans. The Anchormen needed a drummer, and Bullins was hired in 1984.
Down through the years, the Anchormen has consistently had top-charting songs. â€œGiver of Lifeâ€ â€“ written by Brian and Shauna Holt and Greg Hodges â€“ became a No. 1 song in 1997. Other favorite songs they continue to sing include â€œCome On In,â€ written by Greg Simpkin and Chris White, as well as â€œI Feel Like Running,â€ which has been released on four different projects.
As with any Gospel group down through the years, they have seen many changes in terms of personnel. Carter, Will Lane and Phillip Hughes left the group at one point and have since returned. Some other recognizable names include David Sutton, Steve Ladd, Derrick Boyd, David Hill, Jeff Chapman, Jamie Caldwell, David Hester and Bryan Elliott. Current members include Carter, Hughes, Lane and Chris Jenkins.
â€œThe opportunity to sing with the Anchormen came at the best time and the worst time, at the same time,â€ Caldwell remembers of his stint with the group. â€œI had not been able to work for nearly a year due to a massive heart attack in April of 2013. It was the best time because while we had good insurance, we didnâ€™t have disability coverage. Consequently, I had not drawn a salary for that entire time.
â€œ(It was) the worst time because I had been struggling to get my strength back and was concerned I would not be able to hold up under the rigors of the road. While the road was just what I knew it would be, the pure joy of singing energized me to the point I looked forward to leaving each week, regardless of how I felt. Additionally, there was an instant rapport with Terry and Derrick, and when Will joined the quartet with sweet and low, I thoroughly enjoyed the year I spent with the Anchor Boys. The ministry, the music, the miles, the fun, (and with those guys) the food will fondly be remembered for a long time to come. I will be eternally grateful to Tim and the rest of the guys for giving me just what I needed at precisely the right time.â€
Bullins â€“ the owner/manager â€“ had a lot of experience prior to owning the group. He likes to see everyone win at the end of the day. Ed Hill told him 40 years ago, â€œEveryone from the custodian to the man who signs the check has an instrumental part.â€ Â
As a nine- and 10-year-old boy, he would walk around buses and talking out loud he said, â€œLord, let me do this one day,â€ Bullins recalls. â€œHe answered.â€
Bullins adds, â€œDuring my early days with the Singing Americans (1982-84), I learned a lot about the running of a quartet from my hero, Ed Hill. I notice myself sort of being married to the date book. It all starts with a phone call. You have to be willing to answer the phone and make calls at any time and be consistent. The internet has certainly made it better. But picking up the phone and â€˜diggingâ€™ through contracts is still the best.
â€œI do all the house booking, so it gets hectic at times. I travel with the guys probably 65 percent of the time, so I have to do a lot from the road. I handle payroll, all the office work, online sales, keeping the transportation ready and driving. Terry Carter handles most of the product, with Chris being a tremendous help with handling the web site and posting and advancing dates. Like any business, there are lots of surprises that come your way all the time.â€
Carter, who sings baritone, spent 18 years with the group before taking time off, but now, he has returned to the group. The Cathedrals, Goodmans, and Statesmen have influenced his life the most in the music industry. He would also like to have dinner with Billy Graham.
â€œI was saved at age 13 in Wallace, N.C.,â€ Carter says. â€œI began singing at age 14, and Iâ€™m grateful that God has allowed me to sing and minister for 45 years. My most embarrassing thing was oversleeping and missing a river boat cruise (that) the Anchormen sang on at the (National) Quartet Convention (NQC) many years ago.â€
Carterâ€™s highlights of his career include his first time singing at NQC in 1982, as well as seeing souls saved at concerts. If he ever stops singing, youâ€™ll probably see him in promotions and sales of some sort. However, in the meantime, he enjoys spending time with his wife â€“ Kaye â€“ and being in the studio producing vocals for other artists.
Hughes, the lead vocalist, became involved in Southern Gospel Music in 1986 and joined the Anchormen in 1997.
â€œMaking three appearances on the Grand Ole Opry was a highlight of my life,â€ Hughes says. â€œAn embarrassing time was when I sat down on a pew on stage (while singing with the Kingsmen), and it fell back into Brandon Reeceâ€™s drums.â€
He left the Anchormen in 2001, later sang with the Kingsmen for six years and spent time as part of the Harvesters Quartet before returning to the Anchormen in 2015.
Doyle Lawson is his favorite musician, and Vince Gill his favorite singer. Â If Phillip ever retires, you might find him in Hawaii as thatâ€™s where he would like to visit. If you visit Philip, you might find him out on the ball field with his sons Ross and Ryan or spending time with Starla, his wife.
Known for his rich, mellow bass voice, smile and personality, Will Lane joined the Anchormen in 2003. At age 20, he had already been with Lumber River for one year. Lane left the Anchormen at the end of 2006 and help form the group Driven. Then, in 2014, Lane returned to the Anchormen.
At age 16, Lane accepted Christ in a revival service conducted by Mike Holcomb.
â€œThat was the day everything changed,â€ Lane points out.
As with many bass singers, Lane was influenced by George Younce. His most embarrassing moment was at one concert when his microphone wouldnâ€™t work. He hit the mic, which had a bad cord, and total chaos broke out.
Lane said that sharing the stage with the Oak Ridge Boys has been the highlight of his career. If you stopped by his home, you might find him out working in the yard, at the gym or just spending time with his wife â€“ Mindy â€“ and family.
Rounding out the current group in the tenor position is the newest member, Jenkins. As a child, he was influenced by Gold City and Brian Free. Jenkins started out singing with his grandfatherâ€™s group, the Bearons. Somehow grandfathers leave an influence on their grandchildren, and his grandfather is his most admired person. He then started his own group, the Vintage Quartet. During this time, he also served as the manager of a bank.
â€œIâ€™d probably still be in the banking business if I wasnâ€™t singing,â€ Jenkins says. Â
In 2012, Jenkins started his full-time career in Southern Gospel Music by joining the Kingsmen, which is where he stayed until 2015. Then, in 2016, he joined the Anchormen.
Jenkins was really embarrassed at a concert in Savannah, Tenn., when he started singing â€œOh What a Saviorâ€ with his earbuds in each ear and then realized he was hearing the wrong key. He jerked one out in the middle of the first verse and corrected the song to the right key. In his off time, he enjoys spending time with Stephanie â€“ his wife â€“ and their son, Ryan.
These men have experienced life in and out of the Anchormen, but they have all returned to again sing together about the anchor of their lives. Their new recording, â€œStrength Renewed,â€ says everything there is to say about this group of men. Together again, this group shows a strength of purpose and a desire to share about Jesus through solid Southern Gospel quartet music.
By Robert York
First published by SGNScoops Magazine in June 2017.
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