SOUTHERN TRADITION Southern Tradition is a group dedicated to preserving the heritage of Southern Gospel music and continuing to spread the Gospel to a dying world through traditional music. We trust that God will bless our efforts just as He did those of the pioneers of Gospel Music whom we strive to honor.
ELDON WRIGHT – TENOR
On the Saturday following the 4th of July, 1948, Eldon sang on the McDonald Brothers Quartet’s broadcast on KBOA, 830 AM, in Kennett, Missouri. In Eldon’s own words, “I haven’t been right since!”
Eldon has performed with a variety of groups including: the Gospelaires, the Wallace Quartet, the Victory Quartet, the Chapelaires, the Foggy River Boys, the Missourians, the Royals, the Journeymen, the Joymasters, and finally, REUNION, where he worked with Jerry Tomlinson and his longtime friend Tommy Fairchild.
Over the years Eldon was blessed to meet and work with some of the legends of Gospel music. Luther G. Presley, the McDonald Brothers, and Barney Barrow all played a huge part in molding his life. Barney’s widow, Eva and her first husband Bill Middleton (who died leaving Eva a young widow) were also among those who helped pave the way for the young man from Arkansas who is now celebrating 65 years singing Gospel music.
JERRY TOMLINSON – LEAD
Jerry comes from a Gospel singing family, the Ray Harmony singers, who broadcast a weekly radio program from WKRO AM 1490, Cairo, Illinois in the 1940’s and 50’s. Jerry’s career began at the age of 3 when his parents first recorded him singing the song “Cleanse Me” and he has been singing ever since.
Jerry has sung with (among many others): the Ray Harmony Quartet, three different stints with Barney Barrow and the Victory Quartet, the Master’s Quartet, and REUNION, where he worked with both Eldon Wright, and Tommy Fairchild.
Jerry has sung Gospel music almost his entire life, and wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything in the world. Jerry’s love of music is real and profound, but his love of the message in Gospel songs is much deeper and is rooted in his own personal faith. Jerry is delighted to continue to spread the gospel 66 years after his first recording.
GARY WYMAN – BARITONE
Although born into a family of Gospel singers, as a child Gary’s singing voice was so poor that he didn’t even try to sing. At the age of 13, his voice dropped one and a half octaves and stabilized and he has been singing ever since.
His first real exposure to singing in public came at the 1978 Missouri State Singing Convention where he was asked to conduct a song for the Convention choir. Terrified, Gary said that he did not know any of the songs in the book well enough to do it, but his grandfather, Oscar Wyman, persisted. “Here, sing this one”, he said, pointing to a brand new song. Oscar’s friend, Wilson Price, from Wynne, Arkansas volunteered the services of his quartet’s pianist to accompany him and the stage was set for either an enormous flop or a rousing success.
The song, which neither Gary nor the pianist had ever seen prior to that afternoon was entitled “Come Morning”. It would soon become a major hit for the Nelons and later proclaimed the Song of the Decade – 1980s by the Singing News. The pianist, a 20 year old phenomenon from Strawberry, Arkansas named Roger Bennett, was a little over six months away from stepping on the Cathedral Quartet’s bus to become their new pianist and becoming a Gospel music legend in his own right. Meanwhile, Gary has continued singing and directing choirs and choral groups over the past 35 years.