The Parade of Quartets (POQ) is celebrating 60 years on WJBF News Channel 6.
"Groups would just show up on Sunday morning and they would go out in the hall and pick who was going to sing that morning," says POQ host and producer, Karlton Howard.
Howard is talking about the early days of the Parade of Quartets...the longest running gospel program in television history.
The program, created by WJBF founder J.B. Fuqua, started on the radio in the 1940's, then transitioned to television in November of 1953.
Like his father before him, Howard is the host of the show and is deeply aware of the program's rich history. "I used to watch when I was a little boy. Each group would have like a theme song, like the Abraham Brothers would do 'Rock A My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham'," he says.
Two members of that group are still around and will be honored March 1st during the Parade of Quartets 60th anniversary Gala. Other artists will be recognized as well, including the legendary Flo Carter.
"No matter where we go people will say your singing blesses our hearts...it will be people in the hospital, in the nursing homes that this program reaches," Carter says.
Roosevelt Walker, a U.S. Army veteran, watched then later sang on POQ until a tour of duty abroad took him miles away. "Boy, did I have a hard time when I went to Europe. During that stay in Europe for 2 and a half years, couldn't see no Parade of Quartets," Walker says.
So many loyal viewers feel the same way. Some of the groups they've enjoyed on TV will come together at a black tie event at the Augusta Convention Center at the AugustaMarriott.
Jynell Handy, POQ Gala Publicity Chair:
"We will have a red carpet where you can bring your spouse or your mate and walk the red carpet and be interviewed and photographed there," says POQ Gala publicity chair Jynell Handy.
It's an awards show. Several artists will receive the Henry L Howard Award. The Williams Brothers will be honored...Lady Tramaine Hawkins will be honored...Clarence Fountain from the Alabama Blind Boys will be honored, as well as Dr. Bobby Jones. And, some of your favorite up and coming artists will take the stage. The Wardlaw Brothers...Augusta's own Damian Snead...and contemporary gospel artist Andrea Helms.
"Our hopes are that we can mix some of the landmark people, the pioneers of gospel music, celebrate them as well as introduce some of the newer artists, mix it all together in the name of a great show," Handy says.
Following the Gala, there will be a black tie reception, a meet and greet with all the artists.
You'll find ticket info on the Parade of Quartets website.
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