Started by Herb Oliver, the Tri-State Gospel Music Hall of Fame came into being to recognize, honor and celebrate gospel music musicians who had made outstanding contributions to gospel music. Members from Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia could be nominated for the honor. From all those nominated, the board members would make the selection based on their contribution and ministry to gospel music, and then hold an induction ceremony.
The first inductees were installed in 2005 at Ridgeview Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tenn. Over the years, well-known inductees have included Vestal Goodman, Cat Freeman, LeRoy Abernathy, Shorty Bradford and Calvin Newton. More recently, Mike Holcomb, Melvin Klaudt, Tracy Stuffle, Anthony Burger, Phil Cross and Tim Duncan have been honored. Parkway Baptist Temple in Fort Oglethrope, Georgia, has hosted the ceremony during the past five years because of the size of attendees. Dr. David Sampson, pastor, and Jerry Pilfrey, minister of music, host the ceremony, as both are members of the Hall of Fame.
The 2019 induction ceremony held at Parkway Baptist Temple was planned and set up with Will Dickerson, CEO/Chairman. The program included the Tri-state Hall of Fame Choir, numerous quartets and the induction ceremony. The choir contained all former and new members, singing several songs throughout the evening. Four men, who had never sung together, joined together as scrap iron quartets, and were enjoyed immensely during the ceremony. Each scrap iron quartet included were given such names as The Carpenters On Noah’s Ark, Ex-Walmart Greeters and Nashville Cats, as well as many others. Hall of Fame member Ken Hicks, co-host of the Ken and Daniel morning show in WUSY in Chattanooga, Tenn., emceed the ceremony.
Ten new members were inducted bringing the total members of the Hall of Fame to 202. Inducted were Carol Cross, an award-winning songwriter; Milford Cushen, an attorney in Fort Payne, Alabama, who has sung with several quartets throughout his career and currently sings with the Bradford Quartet; Rick Fair, who was the final baritone singer for the legendary Statesmen quartet and has been with many other nationally known quartets. Rick’s son David accepted the award as Rick was unable to attend the ceremony that evening.
Jay Parrack, tenor singer with Vocal Event, was inducted as a new member. His wife Kaylyn and children Keri and L.J. attended to support him.
Formerly with Gold City Quartet from 1994 to 2004, Parrack, referring to Vocal Event, stated, “We are in the process of doing new recording as it has been some time since the group has had one.” He also serves as minister of music at Hill Crest Baptist Church in Anniston, Ala.
Debbie Epperson, whose family is known as the Singing Echoes from Cleveland, Tenn., was newly inducted. Many of her family are also members.
Also inducted was Roger Horne who began his career singing tenor with The Gospel Harmony Boys and later with The Cathedral Quartet, and Jerry and The Singing Goffs. Mike Leath, lead singer for more than a decade with Alabama’s favorite groups The Sharps was also honoured.
Dr. Jerry Goff and his wife, ‘Little’ Jan Buckner-Goff, were both honoured as new inductees.
Jan is nationally known for her performances with Wendy Bagwell and The Sunlighters for 38 years. She has received a Grammy award for the song “Tell It Again.” Throughout her lifetime, Jan has devoted her life to gospel music. Like one of her songs she sings, “I’ve Been Everywhere,” she has performed in numerous venues, including Carnegie Hall (New York) and all across America. Dr. Goff and Jan were married for many years, making a great impact as a duet and sometimes adding a third member to be a trio.
Jerry Goff passed away July 12, 2019. He was known as Mr. Trumpet and had his own group Jerry and the Singing Goffs for many years. He had 56 albums to his credit, received the Dove Award, and Poet Voice Award just to name a few. He had written numerous songs during his lifetime, been on the board of directors and served as president of the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Closing out the evening Ronnie McJunkin and the choir sang as an honor to Dr. Goff, “I’ll Meet You In The Rapture,” followed by, “What A Meeting In The Air.”
If you would like to know more about the Tri-State Hall of Fame, you can reach them at their website
www.tristategospelmusichalloffame.com. Donations are accepted through the website, to help with the organization’s expenses. Special thanks to Will Dickerson, Chairman, for his input and information for this article.
By Robert York
Robert York is a regular contributor to SGNScoops Magazine.