Date of Award

Summer 7-2002

Document Type

Master's Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Raymond Lockett

Second Advisor

Dr. Ronald Morazan

Third Advisor

Dr. Charles Vincent


~The full history of the Gospel Quartet movement in Louisiana is so vast and complex that even now much remains untold. The various stages of cultural evolution that constitute this musical tradition serve as a repository for all the components which have defined and governed the existence of quartets and their role in black expression." Although the preceding is a quote from author Joyce Jackson's book The Changing Nature of Gospel Music: A Southern Case Study, it has significance when studying the aspect of the Gospel Quartet Movement in Louisiana. In the following discussion, the writer will examine the ways in which quartets have responded creatively to the realities of adapting to new situations within the context of historical environments, such as music in the southern region of the United States, Louisiana. Throughout this project, the writer illustrates how quartets were influenced by the gospel music in black churches. The Quartet Movement itself has evolved tremendously from 1940 to present. Gospel Quartet groups emerged after slavery, beginning with the Fisk Jubilee Singers. At this time, a cappella singing style was predominantly popular. Later, Gospel quartet groups became active members of church functionalism, thus leading the way for gospel choirs to form. Quartet groups are located throughout many parts of the country; however, this writer's focus will primarily examine the quartet groups in Louisiana. For example, the Eveready Gospel Singers housed in Shreveport, LA have been singing together since 1946. The group has recorded several music CD's and have performed for festivals for many years. Another credit to the Gospel Quartet movement in Louisiana is the Lighthouse gospel singers from Baton Rouge, LA. This group has been singing since 1950 and has accepted many invitations to sing to all types of audiences varying from the Russians to the Ku Klux Klan. Quartet singing would not be complete without the involvement of women quartet groups such as The Calvarette Gospel Singers. Born and reared in Zwolle, Louisiana, the Calvarette singers organized in 1968 and part of the group's success is due to its strong family ties. The group consisted of a grandmother, one aunt, cousins and sisters. New Orleans, mostly known for its flavorful jazzy style of music, is home to the Zion Harmonizers which has tapped into the city's festivities by co-anchoring the Gospel Tent which is now a part of the New Orleans Jazzfest entertainment activities. Along with the group's yearly participation in the Gospel tent, the Zion Harmonizers are well traveled. They have toured Europe and covered many cities within the United States. The Gospel Quartet movement has long reached national success status as the late Rebert H. Harris formed the National Gospel Quartet Convention, an effort to preserve the art form in which quartet singing would be recognized. Hence, a Louisiana State Convention has been undertaken by Dr. E.W. Giles and has completed its third year in existence, as the quartet convention is an effort to ensure the preservation of the history of the Gospel Quartet group. Author Joyce Jackson explained it best when she stated ~For examining quartets in this historical context communicates and documents the pervasiveness of the tradition not only in black culture but in American culture as a whole."