An Interview with Glenn Couch

SouthernGospelBlog.com Interviews

I recently had the opportunity to interview Glenn Couch, who sang lead for the Weatherfords for around three years in the 1960s.

Daniel: Did you grow up around Gospel Music? If not, what was your first exposure to this music?

Glenn: I was born into a Gospel singing family in that pop (C. G. Couch) was a song-writing, singin’ school teacher when he met my mom at one of his schools in Japton, Arkansas (maybe a population of 50 in 1932) so I attended my first singin’ school at 10 days of age and began singing with mom & pop at around 4.

Daniel: What groups did you sing with, if any, prior to the Weatherfords?

Glenn: My dad had a quartet called the Mel-O-Diers that sang all around Northeast Oklahoma and Southeast Kansas and had a 15 min. program on KGGF in Coffeyville, Kansas for many years, so when I was 15 I was drafted into the group as bass singer. The Couch Family was also on KGGF until I left for the University of Colorado in 1954. The picture is the family in the KGGF studio with Caroline Coday ( a classmate of mine) at the piano and my kid brother Duncan who I think was our alto at the time. A year later when Duncan and I joined David Ingles in The Gospel Stars Duncan was our 14 (later 15) year old bass singer. Duncan went on to get his PHD in music education and had a successful career as a university choral director.

Couch Family

Daniel: How did you get the job with the Weatherfords?

Glenn: After CU, a couple of years with Uncle Sam, and a couple of years teaching high school music; I landed a job with The Olinger Quartet in Denver. I was with them for 5 years when I got the call from Earl Weatherford saying he needed a lead singer. I had first heard them on Los Angeles radio several years before and loved the sounds I heard.

The Weatherfords

Daniel: What have you been doing, personally and professionally, in the years since your experiences on the full-time Southern Gospel circuit?

Glenn: I was with Earl & Lily for about 3 years when I took a job as engineer with Mark Records in Hollywood. I had no more than started there when David Ingles began calling me to move to Tulsa and sing with his group The Vanguards. We sang together from late 1967 until 2000; although the last 15 or 20 years of that was pretty off and on because David was busy putting together his Oasis Radio Network and the rest of us were also busy with our day jobs as well.

The Vanguards

I moved here to Fayetteville, Arkansas to work at a radio announcing job…driving over to Tulsa when we had singing date. In Fayetteville I sang with Bobby Moore and Johney Boles in a group we called Jubilee.

I guess that pretty much wraps up my singing career, since I haven’t had too many calls from quartets needing someone.

Daniel: Thank you!

(Photos courtesy Glenn Couch.)

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Saturday News Roundup #174

Worth Knowing

  • Lily Fern Weatherford, who announced her retirement in January, sang her final concert with The Weatherfords on Wednesday.
  • Gaither’s web team posted a photo gallery from the recent all-female Homecoming taping. The accompanying story indicates that the two-DVD set is due out September 24th.

Worth Watching

Here’s a video of the Rebels Quartet singing “Robe of Calvary,” featuring lead singer Alan Kendall:

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Saturday News Roundup #165

Worth Knowing

  • Greater Vision is doing a going-out-of-print sale for FacesQuartets, and Live at First Baptist Atlanta here. The titles will undoubtedly remain in print digitally.
  • An Oklahoma newspaper has an article on Lily Fern Weatherford’s retirement.
  • NQC has updated their 2013 mainstage schedule, adding The Sneed Family on Monday, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound on Tuesday, The Bowlings and The Nelons on Friday, and the Down East Boys on Saturday.
  • Former Jordanaires tenor Gordon Stoker has passed away.
  • Former LeFevres soprano Teresa McNeill Burrell passed away on Thursday.
  • Canton Junction is discontinuing their debut recording, which we reviewed here, and replacing it with Show Me Your Way, releasing May 21. Eleven tracks will be from the discontinued debut, and will apparently be re-cut with new vocalist Shane McConnell. There will be three new tracks, live renditions of “Just a Little Talk with Jesus/Jesus on the Main Line Medley” and “In God We Still Trust,” and a new studio track, “Back On My Feet Again.”
  • Worth Reading: John Mathis’s column Southern Gospel Music – the 10% and the 90%

Worth Watching

Here’s a video of Gerald Williams’ Melody Boys Quartet in their prime:

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Lily Fern Weatherford announces May 2013 Retirement

In a statement posted on Singing News this afternoon, Lily Fern Weatherford announced that her sixty-five-year run with the Weatherfords will come to a close with her retirement this spring:

After much prayer and thought, my years of traveling with the Weatherfords will be coming to a close at the end of May, 2013. I turned 84 this past November, and have just celebrated my 70th year in full time ministry. I will be making our annual Florida tour that will last through February as well as one more tour to California and once that is completed at the end of May, I will be retiring.

In a parting word of warning to churches and groups alike, her announcement was surprisingly frank as to the economic challenges of staying on the road:

Over the past several years, there have been so many changes in the economy and and state of the country that it has become financially unfeasible for me to continue on in the same manner of ministry. Churches and pastors have changed their way of ministry and are not supporting the Southern Gospel groups as they have in the past. The Weatherfords have always depended on the church and free will love offerings to keep us going. Fuel prices are outrageous as well as other costs of keeping on the road. All these things have caused me to come to this decision.

Her son Steve intends to continue the Weatherfords’ musical legacy, and will announce what that will look like soon.

Many if not most Weatherfords fans consider their golden era to be the vocal lineup of Earl and Lily Weatherford on baritone and alto, Glen Payne on lead, and Armond Morales on bass. Here is a video from that era, showing Lily in her prime:

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Saturday News Roundup #93

Worth Knowing

  • Valor III: Long-time Blackwood Brothers bass singer Ken Turner has joined Valor III. The group will now be known as “Ken Turner & Valor III.” (An aside: Singing News states, oddly, that Turner spent 25 years with the Blackwood Brothers; he joined in about 1971 and left in about 1986, making it closer to fifteen years.)
  • Dills: The Dills are experimenting with a crowd-funding model for their new worship recording. Much like Kickstarter projects, there are different rewards for different levels of contributions. Check it out here.
  • McKameys: In the McKameys’ latest news update, posted on their website, they shared that their hometown, Clinton, Tennessee, presented them with a Lifetime Achievement Award on October 1. They commented: “What an honor! We were humbly surprised. A lifetime achievement award for 31 years of full-time and faithful service in traveling and singing Gospel Music and Telling the Story of Jesus Christ! What an honor to be recognized by your own home-town!”
  • Ollis Family: Former Whisnants / Dixie Melody Boys pianist Eric Ollis, his wife Laura, and their oldest son Payton have announced a family music ministry. Eric started accompanying Laura in her appearances at ladies’ conferences in 2008. The Ollis family will be scheduling conferences, worship events, and concerts. More information will be available at mountainridgeministries.com.
  • Plainsmen: Ernie Couch & Revival has posted an extensive history of the Plainsmen here. (Warning: There is a swear word in a direct quotation at one point.)
  • Weatherfords: The Weatherfords recently announced on Facebook that have finally gotten licensing clearance to reissue their classic recording, In the Garden (1959), on CD. It will be available for purchase here.

Worth Reading

Don’t miss Friday Night Revival’s piece on The Hair Piece.

Worth Watching

Here is what is likely the first professionally recorded video of Wilburn & Wilburn, from their recent TBN taping:

Worth Anticipating

Upcoming CD Reviews:

  • 11/4: Amen (Down East Boys)
  • 11/11: Everlasting Truth (Michael Booth)
  • 11/18: Songs from the Heart (Triumphant Quartet)
  • 11/25: Baptized on Sunday (Penny Loafers)
  • 12/2: American Christian (Melody Boys Quartet)
  • 12/9: A Country Campmeeting (Palmetto State Quartet)
  • 12/16: Step Up (Torchmen Quartet)
  • 12/23: Journey (Libbi Perry Stuffle)
  • 12/30: A Country Campmeeting (Three Bridges)
  • 1/6: You’ve Got to Believe (Homeland Harmony Quartet)
  • 1/13: A Wonderful Life (Legacy Five)
  • 1/20: A Country Campmeeting (Triumphant Quartet)
  • 1/27: Steve Ladd (Steve Ladd)
  • 2/3: God’s Been Faithful (Liberty Quartet)
  • 2/10: The Call is Still the Same (Dixie Melody Boys)
  • 2/17: Turn to the Cross (Sanctuary Quartet)
  • 2/24: Family Ties (Wilburn & Wilburn)
  • 3/2: Living in Grace (Cavaliers Quartet)

(Dates subject to change, if a really incredible CD comes along that we just have to bump up the line, or if a publicist bugs us enough that we bump a CD up and/or cancel the review.)

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday; you decide!

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Video: George, Glen, and the Weatherfords

Before joining the Cathedrals, George Younce and Glen Payne both sang with the Weatherfords—Glen immediately before, for seven years, and George shortly before Glen joined. Here is a unique video clip where George and Glen both join Earl and Lily Weatherford for “What a Precious Friend is He” and “Tell My Friends”—and some friendly banter about old age in between, where, for once, we see the table turned, and Glen joking about George’s age!

Hat tip, Josh.

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Video of the Day: 1957 Weatherfords

Dean Adkins just uploaded a priceless gem to YouTube:

Glen Payne (lead), Armond Morales (bass), and Lily Fern Weatherford (alto) have the solos; Earl Weatherford (with the handlebar mustache) joins in at the baritone part. This early Weatherfords footage, from the same lineup that recorded the landmark album In the Garden two years later, is the earliest Weatherfords footage—and earliest Glen Payne footage—that I have ever seen.

Compare Payne’s voice in 1957 with his voice forty years later in 1997. It reveals utterly remarkable consistency throughout his career.

Oh, and an extra bonus: Once you’ve watched it several times to soak in the rich perfection of the performance, watch it one more time and focus on the expression on the choir members’ faces. The expression of the young lady with blond hair right past Glen Payne’s shoulder is particularly intriguing.

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Happy 80th, Lily Weatherford!

When I interviewed Weatherfords baritone Cody Boyer a few weeks ago, he mentioned that Lily Fern Weatherford would be having her 80th birthday on the 25th. (I confirmed the date in the Singing News Sourcebook). That’s today.

While I’m hesitant to post her email address here, it is on the Weatherfords’ website’s contact page.

Why don’t we do a little more than just paying lip service to appreciating our legends while they’re still with us? Let’s send her emails today thanking her for her years of faithfulness to spreading the Gospel.

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An Interview with Cody Boyer

Recently, I had the chance to interview Cody Boyer, baritone singer for the Weatherfords. Lily Weatherford, who has been with the group for decades, still sings alto for the group, and her son Steve sings the lead. More about Cody and the group can be found at www.theweatherfords.com or www.codyboyer.com. [EDIT, 11/6/10: Regrettably, the link seems to be broken, so it has been removed.]

Click here for the pdf, or look below for a text version.

* * *

DJM: How did you get interested in Southern Gospel?
Cody: I came from a musical family. My dad was a musician for 40+ years. He performed with Marty Robbins, Conway Twitty, Jerry Lee Lewis and a bunch of folks.

DJM: What instrument did he play?
Cody: He was a lead guitarist. He was an opening act for some people with his own band, and played in the band for some of the others.

When I was ten years old, my pastor invited me to his house to watch the Cathedrals Reunion video. I had gotten saved in church when I was eight years old, two years before that.

The pastor had given me a cassette of the reunion. When we met Dad at the airport, I sang “Movin’ Up to Gloryland” for him. Before that, I was so shy I wouldn’t talk to my aunt or uncle, or some of my five older sisters. But literally the next day, I knew I wanted to be a singer. It was an overnight thing.

Then on to a couple of years later, my dad, uncle, and I started singing in Oklahoma, in churches and music festivals.

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