Hartford Quartet (1920s -1950s)
The Hartford Quartet was operated by the Hartford Music Company which was founded in Hartford, Arkansas in 1918 by E.M. Bartlett. The Hartford Musical Institute and the Hartford Quartet were created to promote the sale of the company’s songbooks.
The company expanded to include offices in Texas and Oklahoma and created additional quartets to sing in those areas. The company and its music school employed a number of gifted singers and musicians to conduct the musical training.
Some of the music school’s teachers and best pupils were also members of their quartets. One student in particular went on to become a very well-known songwriter. His name was Albert E. Brumley. Brumley joined one of the school's quartets and would eventually become the owner of the Hartford Music Company.
In addition to groups named Hartford Quartet, there were other singing groups associated with the Hartford Music Company. Some of these included Bartlett’s Gospel Four, Murphree Hartford Quartette, Hartford Boys Quartet, Odis Echols' Hartford Melody Boys, and the Hartford Melody Girls.
The Hartford Quartet that is possibly the best remembered existed from the late 1930s through the early 1940s. They were based in Hartford, Arkansas. Members included Clyde Garner (tenor), Al Houpe (lead), J. A. McClung, (baritone), Austin Arnold (bass), and future Rangers Quartet and Statesmen Quartet member, Doy Ott (piano).
(Larry Baker and Mrs. T J Gibson (daughter of J A McClung) contributed information for this article.)