Singing Americans (Original 1968 members)

L-R: Euclid Huella (bass guitar), Bob Lamar (baritone), ? (drums), Bob Sims (tenor), Preston Yates (lead), Seated: Norris Rife (bass)

Group Members

Bob Sims (1968-1971)
Rodney Hoots (1972-197?)
Mark Flaker (1980)
Danny Funderburk (1980-1983)
Rick Strickland (1984-1986)
Phil Barker (1986-1988)
Greg Shockley (1988-1990)
David Walker (1990-1992)
David Sutton (1992-1994)
Greg Bentley (1994)

Preston Yates (1968-1971)
Bob Lemar (1972-1974) (moved from baritone; also played piano and managed)
Glenn Dye (1973-1974) (swapped lead parts with Lemar)
Garry Herron (197?-197?)
Ed Crawford (1979-1981)
Michael English (1981-1982, 1983-1985)
Ivan Parker (1982-1983)
Clayton Inman (1983, 1985-1987) (moved to baritone)
Scott Whitener (1987-1992
Dale Forbes (1992-1993)
Loren Harris (1993) (filled in)
David Hill (1993-1994)

Bob Lemar (1968-1971) (moved to lead; also played piano and managed)
Wayne Maynard (1972; 1974-1979)
Mickey Blackwelder (1972-1974)
Charles Surratt (1980-1981)
Ed Hill (1981-1987) (Surratt and Mike Lefevre filled in for Hill several months after he was injured in a bus wreck.)
Clayton Inman (1987-1989) (moved from lead)
David Jenkins (1989-1990)
David Harvell (1990-1992)
Buddy Burton (1992-1994)

Norris Rife (1968-1971)
Rick Lott (1971-1972)
Danny Gallimore (1972-1973)
Hovie Walker (1973-197?)
Jerry Brown (197?-19??)
Dwayne Burke (1980-1990)
Larry Stewart (1990-94)

Bob Lemar (1968-1972) (piano, also sang lead)
Joel Harris (1972-1973)
Jimmy Taylor (1973-197?)
Jerry Hatley (1981-1984)
Martin Guresko (1984-1985
Milton Smith (1985-1986)
Phil Huffman (1986-1987)
James Rainey (1987-1990)
Keith Denson (1990-1992)
Jerry Kelso (1992)
Joe Lane (1992-1993; 1993) (before and after Randy Matthews)
Randy Matthews (1993)
Chuck Trivette (1994)

Bass Guitar
Euclid Huella (1968-1971)
Tony Buttler (1971)
Gary Barnhart (197?-197?)
Biney English (1984-????) (also featured singer)
Jeff Easter (198?-198?)
Mark Fain (1984-198?)
Taylor Barnes (199?-199?)
Jason Clark (199?-1994)

Rhythm and Lead Guitar
Harvey Blackwelder (????-????)

Jon Mark Russell (1968-1974)

Jerry Hill (1972-????)
Gary Barnhart (1972-????)

Musicians Unknown Positions
Benny Goins (????-????)
Roger Fortner (????-????)
Rory Rigdon (????-????)

circa 1974 with Little Jimmy Taylor on piano


2010 reunion of the Rick Strickland, Michael English, Ed Hill and Dwayne Burke lineup at the National Quartet Convention

The Singing Americans (1968-1994)


The Singing Americans were formed in late 1968 by Bob "Sonny" Lemar in Winston-Salem, NC. Lemar played piano and sang baritone. The other original members were Preston "Pete" Yates (lead), Bob Sims (tenor) and Norris Rife (bass). Sims was later replaced by a 12-year-old tenor named Rodney Hoots. After Yates left, Lemar moved to lead and Mickey Blackwelder moved into the baritone slot. Blackwelder was only with the group for a short time before being replaced by future Kingsmen baritone Wayne Maynard. The Singing Americans also added a drummer named Jon Mark Russell and a bass guitar player named Euclid Huella. In the early 1970s, they added a pair of trumpet players named Jerry Hill and Gary Barnhart.

Homer Wadford bought the group and relocated them to Raleigh, NC around the end of 1972. Wadford did not perform with the group. After selling the group, Lemar reunited with Rife to form a mixed group called the Hallmarks.

Jimmy Taylor played piano when the Singing Americans were based in Raleigh. In 1977, the group moved their base to Asheville, NC. Wadford ultimately sold the group to Charles Burke who was based in Maiden, NC.

It was under the ownership of Charles Burke that the Singing Americans became one of the most popular "farm groups" in the industry and had several big hit songs of their own. Like Wadford before him, Burke did not sing with the group, but he had a great ear for talent. The earliest known lineup from the Burke years consisted of Mark Flaker (tenor), Ed Crawford (lead), Charles Surratt (baritone), and Dwayne Burke (bass) who was the son of the group's owner. Personnel changes were frequent over the next 14 years with most members staying only a year or two. Some members pulled more than one stint with the group. Only five members were ever with the group for more than three years in a row. Those were Dwayne Burke, Ed Hill, Clayton Inman, Scott Whitener and Larry Stewart. The other positions were like revolving doors at times.

Several Singing Americans members went on to become well-known with other groups. Danny Funderburk (Cathedral Quartet), Michael English (Gaither Vocal Band), Ivan Parker (Gold City), and David Sutton (Kingdom Heirs/Triumphant Quartet) are just a few of the names Southern Gospel fans should recognize. Many of the group’s musicians also found fame after cutting their teeth with the Singing Americans. Jerry Kelso, Jeff Easter, Mark Fain, Milton Smith, Jason Clark and Roger Fortner were in the group’s band at various times.

The Singing Americans peaked in popularity during Michael English’s second tenure from 1983 to 1985. Their recording Live And Alive included “I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy,” which held the number one position on the Singing News chart for the first three months of 1985.

It is the 1985 lineup of Rick Strickland (tenor), Michael English (lead), Ed Hill (baritone), Dwayne Burke (bass) and Milton Smith (piano) that is best remembered. That particular lineup was reunited at an event promoted by the Singing Americans in 1993 at Heritage USA; a few years later at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion in Greenville, SC; and in 2010 at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, KY at a showcase commemorating the 100th anniversary of Southern Gospel music.

The Singing Americans are also remembered for songs like “Welcome To Heaven,” “Love MIA,” “Shadow Of The Steeple,” and “Over There.”



197? 12 Gospel Favorites (Sonic Sound Records/LP-2002): O When I Meet You; Don't Take My Cross Away; Jesus Is Coming Soon; Jesus Is Coming; Thank You, Lord; He Looked Beyond My Faults; So High; Now I Have Everything; It Won't Be Long; Born Again; Homecoming; Had It Not Been (Bob Sims, Preston Yates, Bob Lemar, Norris Rife, Euclid Huella).

197? Battle Hymn of the Republic (Sonic Sound Records/1009): Battle Hymn of the Republic Medley; The Coming Of The Lord; The Joy Of Knowing Jesus; The Eastern Gate; Near To The Heart Of God; Redemption Draweth Nigh; I Know; He Never Once Stopped Loving Me; Thank God I Am Free; Jesus Is Coming Soon.

197? Sunrise With Twin Trumpets (Sonic Sound Records/1010): Sunrise; Amazing Grace; The Sweetest Song I Know; Let Me Pray; Turn Your Radio On; The Lighthouse; Jesus Knows (All About It); God Walks The Dark Hills; When The Saints Go Marching In; Plan Of Salvation; That Day Is Almost Here.

197? Amazing Grace (Custom Records): Amazing Grace; The Coming Of The Lord; The Joy Of Knowing Jesus; The Eastern Gate; Near To The Heart Of God; That's Him; I Know; He Never Once Stopped Loving Me; Thank God I'm Free; Jesus Is Coming Soon.

197? The Old Rugged Cross (QCA Records): Yesterday; After Calvary; The Old Rugged Cross; Ten Thousand Years; Redemption Draweth Nigh; The Unseen Hand; Tears Are A Language; I Should Have Been Crucified; I Know Not The Time; I'll Fly Away.

197? Sky High Gospel (Heavy Weight Records/IRC-1099): Heavens Mine; Sweet Beulah Land; In The Middle Of The Night; Prodigal Son; Leaving On My Mind; Jesus Care For Me; Covered By The Blood; When The Sun Of My Life Goes Down; Hymn Medley: Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus/Nearer My God To Thee; Roll Back River Jordan.

1973 Our Tribute To God And Country (QCA Records/5105N4): Patriotic Medley; I'll Have A New Song; I Came On Business For The King; Dear Jesus Abide; Jesus Is Mine; Hymn Medley; I'll See You In The Rapture; I Never Knew How It Felt.

197? Behold the Man (Custom Records): Behold The Man; Lord Stay Near To Me; Great Great Morning; Show Me The Way To Calvary; When I Wake Up To Sleep No More; He's More Than Just A Swear Word To Me; While I'm Here; Just As The Sun Went Down; Beyond A Shadow Of A Doubt; Somebody Prayed.

197? Today's Gospel Alive: (Brite Star Records/SLP 101): Yesterday; After Calvary; The Old Rugged Cross; Ten Thousand Years; Redemption Draweth Nigh; The Unseen Hand; Tears Are A Language; I Should Have Been Crucified; I Can Tell You The Time; I'll Fly Away.

1975 Wanted Live! (Recorded live in Landis, NC) (Truth Records/1031): Victory Road; I Can Feel The Touch Of His Hand; Look For Me At Jesus's Feet; Hallelujah Square; We're Not Home Yet; I Want To See Jesus; That's The Man I'm Looking For; I Believe In Jesus (Medley); My Load Is Getting Lighter; When I Wake Up.

1977 The Singing Americans (QCA Records/355): Noah Found Grace; Jesus Is His Name; Something's Missing; I'm Not Ashamed; He Gave Me What I've Been Looking For; Restore My Soul; Just A Servant; An Old Fashioned Altar; The Sound Of His Name; I Wanna Be There.

1980 Tell the Angels (Victory Records/V-1002-R): Tell The Angels; I'll Be In Gloryland; Something's Missing; Led Out Of Bondage; Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; Sail On Over; First Day In Heaven; Keep The Fire Burning; Get Ready Brother; Patriotic Medley.

1981 The Exciting Sounds Of The Singing Americans (Victory Records): Closer Than A Brother; Whiter Than Snow; I'll Never Forget Calvary; In Glory Someday; What A Beautiful Home; I'm Living On Higher Ground; Please Come After Me; I'll Never Turn Back; How Great Thou Art; Good Things (Danny Funderburk, Mike English, Ed Hill, Dwayne Burke) (Re-issued in 1982 on RSR Records/RSR-1260 with Ivan Parker singing lead instead of Michael English).

1981 Hymntime (Halo Records) (Also released as Sing Hymns): I Love To Tell The Story; I’ll Fly Away; Old Rugged Cross; Victory In Jesus; Where We’ll Never Grow Old; Old Time Religion; Amazing Grace; Where The Soul Never Dies; I Feel Like Traveling On; Just Over In The Gloryland (Danny Funderburk, Mike English, Ed Hill, Dwayne Burke).

1981 Gospel Favorites Vol. 2 (Custom Records): Canaanland Is Just In Sight; I Never Shall Forget The Day; He'll Hold My Hand; Teach Me Lord To Wait; He's A Personal Savior; I Know A Man Who Can; My Heavenly Home; Steal Away And Pray; He's Still Working On Me; Sunrise (Re-issued on LPI Records in 1988).

1982 Sensational Singing Americans (Mark Five Records/MV-5995): Whiter Than Snow; Turn Your Light On; Family Reunion; Song Of Victory; Crossing Jordan; Right On Time; Somebody Touched Heaven; Broken Rose; Sail On Over; What A Celebration (Also released on Ambur Records) (Funderburk, Parker, Hill, Burke, Hatley, Gainey).

1982 Sing Gospel Hits Volume 1 (Mark Five Records/SA-6022): My Lord Will Send A Moses; Because He Lives; I Will Serve Thee; Gentle Shepherd; Won't It Be Worth It My Child; Antioch Church Choir; The Blood Will Never Lose It's Power; God Delivers Again; I'm Headin' Home; What Sins Are You Talking About (Funderburk, Parker, Hill, Burke).

1982 Sing Gospel Hits Volume 2 (Mark Five Records/SA-6023): (Funderburk, Parker, Hill, Burke).

1982 Sing Gospel Hits Volume 3 (Mark Five Records/SA-6024): (Funderburk, Parker, Hill, Burke).

1982 Sing Gospel Hits Volume 4 (Mark Five Records/SA-6025): I Do, I Do, I Love My Jesus; Hand In Hand With Jesus; We Are Those Children; Closer To You; I'm Living In Canaan Now; Never Been This Homesick Before; It's My Desire; Standing By The River; Canaanland; Victory Shall Be Mine (Funderburk, Parker, Hill, Burke).

1983 Everybody Ought To Praise His Name (Riversong Records/R-8304): Pearly Gates; Thank You Lord; The Galilean; He's The God Of The Living; Long Winding Road; I'm Happy In The Lord Anyway; What Will You Do With Jesus; Brand New Dawning; I Met My Savior There; Everybody Ought To Praise His Name.

1984 Gospel Favorites (Custom Records/C-0703): Step Into The Water; Gospel Rag; Robe Of White; Look For Me; Led Out Of Bondage; Jesus I Just Want To Thank You; God's Gonna Do The Same; When We All Get To Heaven; Consider The Lilies; Something Missing.

1984 Something Old, Something New (Mark Five Records/SA-6145): Something Old, Something New; Who Am I; Over The Moon; Look For Me; Everyday Will Be Sunday; We Shall See Jesus; Sing Your Blues Away; I Know A Man Who Can; The Unseen Hand; Lead Me To The Rock (Also released in 1986 on Miracle Records and on Ambur Records) (Strickland, English, Hill, Burke, Gureasko, Huffman?).

1984 Live And Alive (Riversong Records/ZLP-8402): Home; Something New; Glory Road; In Gloryland; I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy; I Wouldn’t Miss Heaven For The World; Port In The Storm; When We All Get To Heaven; Over There; America, God Still Loves You; God Bless America (Strickland, English, Hill, Burke, Gureasko).

1984 I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy (The Single) (Riversong Records/RRS05): This album contains the recording of a short and long version of the song I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy that was recorded from their 1984 Live And Alive on (Riversong Records/ZLP-8402). It also contains a open-end interview with the Singing Americans (Ed Hill, Dwayne Burke, and Michael English) that radio stations played across the nation. This album was released as a Limited Collectors Series.

1985 Black And White (Riversong Records/ZLP-8504): Black And White; Jesus Got A Hold Of Me; They Can’t Take That Away From Me; I’d Still Want To Go; Victory Side; Welcome To Heaven; Great Day; I Want To Make Heaven My Home; After Awhile; God Be With You, Till We Meet Again (Also released on the Ambur Records) (Strickland, English, Hill, Burke, Smith).

1986 Hearts Of Praise, Songs Of Majesty (Riversong Records/RO3844): God Is Greater, Lamb Of Glory, It’s No Secret, I Will Lift The Name, I Looked For Love, That’s When The Angels, I Sing Praises, People Need The Lord, The Ninety And Nine, It Is Well (Barker, Inman, Hill, Burke, Smith, Fain).

1986 Concert Series III (Custom Records): Gone At Last; Because He Lives; Holding Up The Ladder; He Touched Me; When The Sun Of My Life Goes Down; God Bless The USA; Ten Thousand Years; Living In Canaan; Sweet Beulah Land (Barker, Inman, Hill, Burke, Smith, Fain).

1987 Homecoming Live (Riversong Records/RO2349): I Know The Lord; Rolling Along; Walk On The Water; Love MIA; Put Your Dreams Where Your Heart Is; Leaning On The Rock; More Than Enough; Bridegroom Cometh; Past To Presence; Jesus Is Here; He Is Lord; God Be With You Till We Meet Again (Barker, Inman, Hill, Burke, Fain, Huffman) (Russell Mauldin also played drums on this live recording but did not actively tour with the group.).

1988 Chartbreakers (LPI Records): Thinking Bout Home; I’m Going Higher Than The Moon Someday; Sweet Beulah Land; Somebody Touched Me; Medley: Gone At Last/Just A Little Talk With Jesus/Amazing Grace; Lord Feed Your Children; Who Can Do Anything; When He Was On The Cross I Was On His Mind; Sweeter As The Days Go By; God Bless The USA (Also released on Ambur Records/AB-1002) (Phil Barker, Clayton Inman, Ed Hill, Dwayne Burke, Phil Huffman, Mark Fain).

1988 We’re Blessed (LPI Records/C-1016): When The Lord Saved Me; I Am Blessed; The Unseen Hand; What A Lovely Name; Mother's Hymn Medley; Wonderful Peace; Somebody Loves Me; When I Cross To The Other Side Of Jordan.

hi-res (Ambur Records)
hi-res (New Haven Records)
1988 Sing Out (Ambur Records/AB1004): Jesus Hold My Hand; The Writer; One In The Million; Shadow Of His Love; I’ve Never Seen A Rainbow; Heartbeat; God Can Use Me; Dream On; I’ll Live On; He Will Carry You (Also released on New Haven Records) (Barker, Whitener, Inman, Burke).

1989 Angels On Board (Homeland Records/HC8902): Angels On Board; Shadow Of The Steeple; I'm In A Hurry; Mercy River; The Change In Me; Song Of Praise; The Ship Sails On; Great Gettin' Up Morning; You'll Never Be The Same; He Can; Nevergreen Tree; Song Of Praise (Shockley, Whitener, Jenkins/Inman, Burke, Rainey).

1989 Songs We Salute (Ambur Records): I Lean On You; I Found The Lily In My Valley; Blood Washed Band; Somebody Touched Heaven For Me; It's Time For Love; Meet Me At The Table; Whiter Than Snow; When I Get Carried Away; Thanks Again; Goin' Up To Heaven; We Are Still The Church.

1990 Watch And Pray (Homeland Records): I Still Get A Thrill; The Great I Am; Happy Millionaire; God Takes Good Care Of Me; Grand Ole Document; Spend A Little Time With Him; Watch And Pray; There’ll Never Be A Tear Shed In Heaven; How Many Will You Show The Way (Jenkins, Shockley, Whitener, Burke, Rainey).

1990 Greatest Hits: 10th Anniversary Collection (Ambur Records): I Wouldn't Miss Heaven For The World; Welcome To Heaven; Over There; Love MIA; God Is Greater; Somebody Touched Heaven For Me; I'd Still Want To Go; Victory Side; I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy; Whiter Than Snow; They Can't Take That Away From Me; The Writer; I Want To Make Heaven My Home; It Is Well With My Soul; More Than Enough; Bridegroom Cometh; Past To Presence; Something New; Heartbeat.

1991 Live & Well (Ambur Records): Project Introduction; What A Friend; Gloryroad?; Group Member Intro; I Want To Make Heaven My Home (Whitener Testimony); I Just Want To Make A Difference; Where The Roses Never Fade; Somebody Touched Me; I'm Winging My Way Back Home; Whiter Than Snow; More About Jesus; Judgement Day; I'd Still Want To Go; There Is A Fountain (Recorded live in Gastonia, NC) (Larry Stewart, David Walker, David Harvell, Scott Whitener, Jerry Kelso).

1991 Revival (Dawn Records)/D-5080): The Devil Don't Want Us To Have A Revival; Broken Heart; Never Let Go Of My Hand; Holy Is Thy Name; I'm Going On; My Lord Sent A Ship For Me; That's My Home; A Blessing's On The Way; He Cared That Much For Me; Dwelling In Beulah Land. (David Harvell, Scott Whitener, David Walker, Larry Stewart).

1992 On Stage (Dawn Records/DR0105): I'll Not Turn Back; It'll Be Joy; Happy Rhythm; Mother's Hymn Medley; It Was Amazing; I'm Walking In Victory; I'm Winging My Way Back Home; I'll Fly Away; At The Table Of The King; My Burdens Have Rolled Away; The Family Tree; I Can Almost See Heaven; America.

1992 Singing Americans Featuring Buddy Burton (Custom Records): The Mind Of A Winner; In The Midst Of It All; Freedom In My Soul; Welcome To Heaven; O Jesus, I Need Your Love; Medley; Same Old Fashioned Way; Closer To Thee; Songs Of The Cross; Prayer And Faith (Sutton, Forbes, Burton, Stewart, Matthews, Barnes, Lane).

1993 Live From Chicago (Dawn Records/DR0114): I Stand Amazed; Jesus Is Mine; Just In Time; Wonderful Time Up There; When He Comes For Me; The Blood Still Flows; Camping In Canaan; Old Time Religion; Blessed Be The Name; Swing Down Sweet Chariot; I Thank You Jesus; Blessed Assurance; Christian Family; The Lord’s Crowd (Sutton, Forbes, Burton, Stewart, Matthews, Barnes, Lane).

1993 Song of Praise

1994 Sing The Old Songs (Custom Records/SA-5045): Songs Of The Cross Medley: Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone, In The Cross, Room At The Cross, The Old Rugged Cross; Just A Little Talk With Jesus; No One Ever Cared For Me; Blessed Assurance; Jesus Is Mine; Heaven's Jubilee; Farther Along; Amazing Grace; One Day At A Time; Showers Of Blessings (Larry Stewart, Buddy Burton, Dale Forbes and David Sutton).

1994 Golden Hits (Custom Records): I Believe In Music; What A Day; Child Of The King; Patriotic Medley; Victory Is Coming; Home; I Wanna Go There; I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy (David Sutton, David Hill, Buddy Burton, Larry Stewart, Chuck Trivette, Jason Clark).

1996 20 Favorites By The Singing Americans (Benson Records/84418-4372-2): Something New; Home; Over There; People Need The Lord; Lamb Of Glory; Black And White; Welcome To Heaven; God Is Greater; They Can’t Take That Away From Me; I’d Still Want To Go; I Want To Make Heaven My Home; More Than Enough; Love MIA; Leaning On The Rock; Bridegroom Cometh; Put Your Dreams Where Your Heart Is; Jesus Got A Hold Of Me; Past To Presence; After Awhile; God Be With You, Till We Meet Again (Compiles performances from the masters of Riversong Records).

???? Singing For America (AVC Records) (6 cassette pack containing Tell The Angels, The Sensational Singing Americans, Exciting Sound Of The Singing Americans, Favorites, Gospel Favorites Vol. II, and We’re Blessed).

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