Way back in 1927, four young college men from Keene, Texas, including Ray Turner and brothers Lewis, Waldo and Wesley Crane, got together to form a quartet. All four of them were nursing students at Southwestern (University). During that time money was scarce, and they didn’t have enough funds to purchase any musical instruments, so they began singing a cappella.
Being from Texas, they used the name “Lone Star Four” and soon appeared on a radio program on KFPL from Waco, Texas. Later, they joined Voice of Prophecy, a radio ministry that stretches across the U. S. Rumor has it that the radio program promoted a renaming contest, from which was selected the name, the King’s Heralds. They now have the honor of being the longest gospel singing group still active on the road today.
In 1938, the King’s Heralds begin traveling overseas, and throughout the years they have performed in over 50 countries and recorded over 100 albums in 32 different languages. There have been a little over 30 men in the group at different times. They have a rich blend, harmony and balance in their a cappella style, and have added music to their sound, singing wherever God leads them. The members are now Don Scroggs on first tenor, Joel Borg on second tenor, John Watkins on baritone and Jeff Pearles on bass.
Scroggs began his career with the King’s Heralds in 1983. While he was in high school, a friend invited him to a concert. He knew Jerry Patton who was the lead tenor in the group and later this acquainted led him to become involved with the group. Scroggs has now been with the quartet for over 35 years and shows no sign of slowing down. After seeing all of the U.S. through travels with the group, Scroggs says he would love to live in Cozur d’Alene, Idaho, and vacations there when he can.
When asked what his favorite experience has been while singing with the King’s Heralds, the tenor recalls, “(I) loved (seeing) the faces of people in China, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Central America when we (would) sing in their language.”
Borg got involved in gospel music when he was three years old, while singing in church. He sang with Lone Star Four along with Scroggs and also with the group “Still Water.” The length of time he has been singing with Scroggs undoubtedly is one of the secrets behind the group’s beautifully smooth a cappella.
“My dad and my grandfather and their love for music and ministry influenced me most in music,” says Borg, but confesses, “I get embarrassed when I forget the words to a song.” The vocalist is married and loves his awesome wife and anything she cooks. He also is a video graphics editor and a photographer, and states Romans 8:28 is his favorite bible verse. Sadly, Borg will be leaving the group at the end of April 2019. His replacement will be Mike Ringwelski.
Smooth bass singer, Jeff Pearles, came from a musical family and he started singing gospel music because of their encouragement. Before joining the King’s Heralds, Pearles sang with the Fox Brothers, Palmetto State Quartet and Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet.
“I got started with the King’s Heralds when out of the blue they called and asked if I would be interested in singing with them,” Pearles recalls. “At that time I was with the Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet.”
Pearles looked up to another great bass vocalist. “Other than my dad, George Younce probably influenced me most. He was such a wonderful singer and great (communicator), he made it all look so easy.”
This quartet-man loves writing songs, and has written or co-written several throughout the years. The King’s Heralds and the Hoppers have recorded his tunes. He has seen a lot of stages, but he says a career highlight was singing in the Philippines to over 30,000 people.
The group’s baritone specialist, John Watkins, sang his first song, “In The Temple,” at age five at his church, but says he sang very little gospel music prior to joining the quartet.
“I was asked to fill in with the King’s Heralds last summer and sang my first concert in Colorado,” notes Watkins. “They were pleased and asked me to join the group. I was embarrassed when I forgot a line on the last song of my first tour.” Watkins no doubt endeavors to prevent that particular source of embarrassment from happening again.
The youngest man in the group loves to sing happy music that inspires those listening to worship. “My career has been pastoring and music mostly for teens, and God has been my biggest influence,” Watkins states. Perhaps as a result of being around teenagers, the baritone loves pizza but is not particular which restaurant he eats at. His smooth voice is often featured during a King’s Heralds’ set.
Wisconsin native Mark Ringwelski will be joining the group in May. Mark is retiring from Bellin Health where he has served as medical director, and is married to Susan Slikkers. He is no stranger to music as he has been involved with Doctors in Recital, as a vocalist and instrumentalist. He will be singing second tenor for the group. Once Ringwelski is on board, the King’s Heralds plan to begin working on a new recording, sharing the new sound with their audience.
King’s Heralds fans and friends certainly have a lot to look forward to with the revised lineup and album. After 90 years, the quartet has gained a significant following of music lovers across the globe. The group’s fresh look will enable them to reach even more with their message of love for the King of Kings. For a concert information, visit their website at khqofficial.com or to book, contact Don Scroggs at (805) 907- 6016.
By Robert York
First published by SGNScoops Magazine in April 2019.
Read the May SGNScoops Magazine Online HERE