Entertainment as it should be at the beautifully renovated historic theater in downtown Greenville, TX! Get ready to be spoiled! Come enjoy an intimate show with close free parking, full 4 course dinner, luxurious seating, table service, and all gratuities included!
A rarity in today’s performing entertainment market, true “old school” Gospel groups once filled the dates of theaters, churches and other venues throughout the United States every weekend, recording award-wining albums that led the sales charts each year, etching their sounds and images into the memories that saw them live or on TV… and most of those groups were simply once-in-a-lifetime!
We bring not just one, but TWO of those legendary, Hall of Fame, recording artists to the stage with The Gospel Legends Tour. The show begins with Detroit’s “Lil’ Blair & The Violinaires” taking the stage, followed by the original “Brooklyn AllStars” in an unforgettable 2 hour throwback to the days of yesteryear!
Rev. Thomas J. Spann & The Brooklyn AllStars
Nearing his 93rd birthday, Reverand Thomas J. Spann was recently recognized by the mayor of High Point, N.C. who issued a proclamation naming his birthday as ‘Rev. Thomas Spann Day.’ Reverend Spann was also recently issued a Lifetime Achievement Award. Spann, who is very humble in his success and always greets the fan wanting an autograph, hug or picture with genuine appreciation.
He and the group have performed at the Carnegie Hall, Apollo Theatre, Kennedy Center , Norfolk Scope and Yankee Stadium to name just a few prominent venues. He was privileged to receive the ‘Key to the City’ in New Orleans, La. On numerous occasions he has performed in Spain, Switzerland, Germany and France where he has also received many awards.
The Brooklyn All-Stars are an internationally recognized male gospel group who have been performing since 1950.Over their long, fruitful careers, they have won numerous awards and racked up two gold albums. Original members include the group’s founder, Thomas J. Spann, Hardy Clifton, and Sam Thomas. They recorded several cuts for the Peacock label in 1959, including ‘Rest Awhile’ and ‘Said He Would Meet Me in Galilee’.
Their early years were difficult ones; with little money for touring, they often traveled to engagements stuffed into a single car, relying on parishioners’ hospitality for food and lodging because they were not permitted inside restaurants and motels. Things improved over the 1960’s and the group established themselves as a fine traditional gospel act. Between 1971 and 1978, they were annually voted the number one gospel group in the U.S.! Their biggest-selling hits are “When I Stood on the Banks of Jordan” and ‘He Touched Me and Made Me Whole’ (on Jewel record label where they have recorded since 1971) During the ’80s, the All-Stars embarked upon a series of world tours.
Since forming The Brooklyn Allstars in 1948, Rev. Thomas J. Spann has worked the gospel circuit with his group’s instantaneously recognizable styling, which is directly attributed to his own bass vocals. Along the way, they’ve toured throughout the world and racked up several gold records (“they say they were gold; I just say they were good,” Rev. Spann interjects) and many Gospel awards and trophies. Today, Rev. Spann is sometimes assisted by a cane and sits onstage with mic in hand during some of the group’s mild numbers such as “No Cross, No Crown.” But you can rest assured that his voice is still booming and when the Spirit moves him on tunes like “Stood on the Banks of Jordan”, he springs from his chair to join in with the other group members. Theirs is a sound that stands apart in traditional quartet music.
The group’s loyal fan base is what keeps them going so many years later; and they’re picking up a younger generation of ‘quartet heads’ with their current release, ‘Just Look At Me Now’. Among the tracks on the Malaco/4 Winds project is a 4-song throwback medley that includes ‘ I Got My Ticket’, a number first recorded in 1950 that bears the group’s trademark sound. “And til this day, our fans still call out for us to do that song every place we go,” the Reverend adds. Hopefully, those places will continue to be many for the man known to his fans as “The Legend.”
Lil’ Blair & The Violinaires
The Violinaires have been an institution in Detroit gospel music since 1952, and have had several lead singers, notably including Wilson Pickett, founder Willie Banks, the legendary Robert Blair (who led the group until his death in 2001), and Blair’s protege, Titus “Lil’ Blair” Stallworth. The original version of the Violinaires was formed in 1952. Not long afterward, Providence Thomas and Raymond, Mississippi native Willie Banks joined, and the group adopted the name the Violinaires, said to be named after seeing an image of a bass violin on the front cover of a music book.
The Violinaires made their recording debut in 1953, when "Another Soldier Gone" appeared on the local Drummond imprint. The following year, it was re-released for the secular market under the name the Question Marks by Swing Time Records, and this crossover attempt led the vocal group to pursue R&B in the late '50s. At the peak of their R&B phase, the group featured Wilson Pickett on lead, recording the 1957 single "Sign of the Judgment."
By the time the Violinaires signed with the Chess subsidiary Checker in 1964, the group returned to gospel music and featured Robert Blair as the lead, and their recording career took off ! Some of the group’s hits from this time included Old Time Religion, Stand By Me, If We Never Meet Again and Three Pictures of the Lord -- The group’s penetrating treble harmonies made such an impact on the genre that gospel quartets emulate it today. The group stayed with Checker throughout the '60s and moved to Jewel in the '70s. In the '80s, the Violinaires became the Fantastic Violinaires and signed to Malaco Records. This lineup still featured Blair when the group moved to Atlantic International Records to release the successful album The Pink Tornado.
During the '90s, the group recorded for Paula, Grammercy, Gospel Jubilee, and Universal Music. Their hit-filled Malaco albums included The Fantastic Violinaires Featuring Robert Blair (1983), Talk to Jesus (1984), and Today is the Day (1985). The group recorded for Malaco again in the new millennium, most notably in 2013, when it released Reunited Live in Richmond, Featuring Titus “Lil’ Blair” Stallworth for Malaco’s 4 Winds imprint.
While singing with the Violinaires, Titus “Lil’ Blair” Stallworth was given the nickname by his mentor and legendary gospel music Hall of Famer, Robert Earl Blair, as a forshadowing that Lil’ Blair would one day take over the reigns. Robert Blair said of his young understudy, “Titus sounded so much like me that it was scary”. After the passing of Robert Blair in 2001, young Titus accepted the call to carry on in his mentor’s name. The Violinaires have sung in churches, festivals, concert halls, and civic centers, and with sacred and secular artists alike—from Pastor Shirley Caesar to the Manhattans. The quartet even inspired the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to write songs for them.
D.A. Johnson, Executive Director, MALACO’s Gospel Division, stated that “...I am excited that he (Lil’ Blair) has chosen to honor the Quartet legend and keep his legacy alive by taking everything he had learned from him and applying it to his own unique ministry in which Robert Blair himself gave his blessings and passed the mantle to, as his true apparent heir.” Still continuing the high falsetto stratospheric vocals, the group has continued the legacy, as well as continued to develop their own unique sound and style!
Doors Open: 6:30PM