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The Fairfield Four is an American gospel group that has existed for over 90 years, starting as a trio in the Fairfield Baptist Church, Nashville, Tennessee, in 1921.[2] They were designated as National Heritage Fellows in 1989 by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States government's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. The group won the 1998 Grammy for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album. As a quintet, they featured briefly in the 2000 movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

The Fairfield Four
OriginNashville, Tennessee
GenresA cappella, gospel
Years active1921–1960, 1980–present
MembersReverend Sam McCrary
James Hill (baritone)
Isaac Freeman (bass)
Willie Richardson
Robert Hamlett
Ed Hall
Joe Thompson
Edward Thomas (tenor)
Willie Frank Lewis (utility)
Past membersHarold Carrethers (baritone)
Rufus Carrethers (bass)
John Battle (lead)
Lattimer Green (second lead)
Wilson Waters
Joseph Rice
Walter Settles Sr.
Roscoe Shelton[1]
Bobby Hebb[1]



The initial iteration of the group was under the direction of the church's assistant pastor, J. R. Carrethers, and consisted of his sons Rufus and Harold plus their neighbor John Battle. In 1925, the group became a quartet when Lattimer Green joined. During the 1930s, Green left the group and William Malone and Samuel McCrary joined, but they retained the name of Fairfield Four, although it had expanded its membership beyond a quartet. Following their initial radio broadcast on WSIX, the group gained recognition outside of Nashville.[2]

In 1942, the group won a contest that resulted in an appearance on 50,000-watt radio station WLAC, with a hook-up to the CBS network. This performance was so successful that the group continued to perform on WLAC for the next decade, and group members became celebrities within the gospel music genre.[3]

During the 1940s, the membership of the group continued to evolve. Their first recording session was held in 1946 at Nashville's Bullet Records and over the next 15 years, the group released over 100 recordings on the Bullet, Delta, Dot, Champion, and Old Town record labels.[3] By 1949, Sam McCrary assumed leadership of the group and they continued to record and tour with various membership changes. In 1954, McCrary left the group to become a minister. More personnel changes ensued, but by the late 1950s the group's popularity had waned, along with the decline of interest in a cappella gospel singing. The group disbanded in 1960.[3]

In 1980, the group re-formed to participate in a special "Quartet Reunion" program in Birmingham, Alabama, and they performed again in 1981 at a Smithsonian Institution program on "Black American Quartet Traditions". The revitalized group has continued to perform from the 1980s to the present.[2]

In 1993, the group participated in the Gaither Homecoming video and music recording series. They are featured in Turn Your Radio On and Old Friends. [4]

The group gained more popular recognition after appearing on John Fogerty's 1997 album Blue Moon Swamp, singing on the track "A Hundred and Ten in the Shade". They also undertook live appearances with Fogerty. In 2003, they performed with Dolly Parton on the song "There Will Be Peace in the Valley for Me" from her album For God and Country. They were later featured on the song "Rock of Ages" by Amy Grant & Vince Gill on Grant's 2005 studio album Rock of Ages... Hymns and Faith.

The Fairfield Four's most recent album Still Rockin' My Soul! was released on March 10, 2015, and won the Best Roots Gospel Album at the 58th Grammy awards.[5]




  • "Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around/Standing in The Safety Zone", Bullet 284, 1947
  • "When I Get up in Heaven/Amazing Grace", Bullet 292, 1947
  • "Tree of Level/Jesus Met the Woman at the Well", Dot, 1949
  • "Dear Lord, Look Down Upon Me/Savior Don't Pass Me By", Dot, 1949
  • "In The Wilderness/Let Me Tell You About Jesus", Dot, 1949
  • "In The Upper Room/I'll Tell The World", Dot, 1950
  • "I Don't Know Why I Have to Cry/When I Move in the Room", Dot, 1950
  • "Don't Drive Your Children Away/Does Jesus Care", Dot, 1950
  • "Nobody To Depend On/Old Time Religion", Dot, 1950
  • "No Room at the Inn/Talking About Jesus", Dot, 1950
  • "I Love The Name Jesus/Leave Them There", Dot, 1950
  • "On My Journey Now/Love Like a River", Dot, 1950
  • "Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow/Don't Drive Her Away", Dot, 1950
  • "Packing Every Burden/Don't Leave Me", Dot, 1951]
  • "My Prayer/Come on to This Altar", Dot, 1951
  • "Waiting for Me/Angels Watching", Dot, 1951
  • "I'm in Your Care/I Can Tell You the Time", Dot, 1951
  • "When We Bow/Let's Go", Dot, 1951
  • "Hope To Shout in Glory/All the Way", Dot, 1951
  • "I'll Be Satisfied/I've Got Good Religion", Dot, 1951
  • "Come Over Here/Who Is That Knocking", Dot, 1953
  • "His Eye Is on the Sparrow/Every Day", Dot, 1953
  • "How I Got Over/This Evening Our Father", Dot, 1953
  • "Stand by Me/Hear Me When I Pray", Dot, 1953
  • "When The Battle Is Over/Standing on the Rock", Dot, 1953
  • "Somebody Touched Me/Mother Don't Worry", Dot, 1953
  • "We Never Grow Old/Jesus in Heaven", Dot, 1954
  • "God Knows I'm a Pilgrim/Heaven in My View", Dot, 1954


  • Angels Watching Over Me {Nashboro Records 7045} 1960 reissued on AVI, 1981 - The Dot recordings
  • One World, One People, One God, One Religion, Nashboro Records, 1980[7]
  • Angels Watching Over, AVI Records, 1981[7]
  • Revival , Nixon Studio, Nashville TN, 1989
  • Standing in the Safety Zone, Warner Bros., 1992
  • Standing on the Rock, Nashboro Records, 1995 [8]
  • I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray, Warner Bros., 1997
  • Wreckin' the House, Dead Reckoning, 1998
  • Fairfield Four and Friends Live from Mountain Stage, Blueplate, 2000
  • The Bells Are Tolling, Ace, 2001
  • Road to Glory, Fuel, 2001
  • Beautiful Stars, Isaac Freeman and the Bluebloods, Lost Highway, 2002
  • Still Rockin' My Soul, Fairfield Four Records (dist. by Thirty Tigers, Sony Red and Provident), 2015

Other contributionsEdit


  1. ^ a b Viglione, Joe. "Roscoe Shelton". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Govenar, Alan, ed. (2001). "Fairfield Four: African American Gospel Singers". Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary. vol. 1 (A-J). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio. pp. 188–190. ISBN 1576072401. OCLC 47644303.
  3. ^ a b c "NEA National Heritage Fellowships: The Fairfield Four". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  4. ^ |Gaither Homecoming Featured artists
  5. ^ a b c d "Artist: Fairfield Four". Recording Academy. 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  6. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 1989". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  7. ^ a b DuPree, Sherry S. (2013). African-American Holiness Pentecostal Movement: An Annotated Bibliography. Routledge. p. 56. ISBN 9781135737108.
  8. ^ The Fairfield Four: Standing on the Rock at AllMusic. Retrieved August 16, 2015.

Further readingEdit

  • "Fairfield Four" Contemporary Musicians. Ed. Angela M. Pilchak. Vol. 49. Thomson Gale, 2005. March 27, 2007
  • Billboard, July 22, 2000, p. 6.
  • Capital Times (Madison, WI), June 4, 2001, p. 3A.
  • Denver Post, July 31, 1998, p. E7.
  • Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia), July 14, 2000, p. 96.
  • Independent (London, England), July 12, 2000, p. 6.
  • Nashville Scene, February 26, 1998.
  • Sarasota Herald Tribune, April 15, 1999, p. 5E.
  • Seattle Times, July 8, 2000, p. A4
  • Alabama Hall of Fame, (March 19, 2004).
  • Bill Friskics-Warren Adding Notes to a Folklorist’s Tunes New York Times December 2, 2007
  • Zolten, Jerry, Great God A' Mighty!:The Dixie Hummingbirds - Celebrating The Rise Of Soul Gospel Music, Oxford University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-19-515272-7.

External linksEdit