Southern Gospel Perspective

My thoughts and opinions about Southern Gospel Music, both past and present. Feel free to comment and criticize...

Location: United States


The Cathedral Quartet

OK, if you are easily offended or you are the greatest George Younce fan in the known Universe, then please quit reading right now. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and it will save you many points on your blood pressure if you just turn away. I know many who do read further will consider much of it heresy.

You were warned.

That being said, well, it's not quite that bad. I just wanted everyone to know what they were getting into up front, and to get rid of anyone who just can't stand to read anything slightly critical of The Cats and former members.

One thing I've been noticing more and more lately is the almost "god-like" worship that has been thrown on George Younce. Maybe it's been there all along and I just let it wash over me unnoticed. But really, everywhere you look it seems like someone is talking about the Cathedral Quartet and George Younce.

For full disclosure purposes here, I loved George Younce and I am a big fan of his voice and singing. On top of that, there was something magical about the way George handled an audience, especially later in his career.

No, what I'm talking about now is the "glorification" of George to the near exclusion of Glen. In many places I looked in researching this article, the group was referred to as George Younce and The Cathedral Quartet. Obviously, these must be individuals who never saw them live or are teenagers, or something.

If you are a Cathedral fan at all, you must know that Glen Payne WAS The Cathedral Quartet. (OK here comes some heresy) In my opinion, you could replace George with any number of bass singers and still have the same basic, great, Cathedral sound. If you try to replace Glen, you don't have The Cathedrals at all. Perfect example... Old Friends Quartet. Not a bad group by any means, but NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES the equivalent of The Cathedral Quartet, and that's with The Legend Jake Hess at lead.

Again, before your blood pressures gets any worse, George Younce was a very good bass singer. He was a very good SINGER, period. However, he wasn't even the best singer in The Cathedral Quartet, much less the best bass singer ever. Here is an article by John Scheideman that makes the point much clearer than I would every be able to do.

So, what are the reasons for this seeming "revisionist history". Was it because Glen passed first? Is it because George was Ernie's F-i-L and so was promoted by him and SSQ? Is it because people have short to no memories? All of the above? None? You tell me.

Personally, I see it the same way I see modern sports figures compared to legends. Someone who never saw Babe Ruth play has no way to compare him to Barry Bonds or Albert Pujols. Someone who never saw Kareem Abbul Jabbar in his prime can have no comprehension of how dominant he was and so think Michael Jordan (or now Kobe Bryant) invented the game.

George was very good, but there are giants in the past at singing bass. Chief, JD, and Big Jim Waits come readily to mind.

Well, if you suffered through till the end, let me have it.


Anonymous Daniel J. Mount said...

All right, I'll come out of the lurking shadows and bite. The fans talk about George Younce because the fans want to talk about George Younce, because he was their favorite.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Southern Gospel Perspective said...

Thanks for the comment Daniel, I thought you might.

What you say is obviously true, but it is also sort of like saying ice cream is good because I like it. Circular, if you know what I mean.

I don't guess I understand or agree with George Younce becoming synonymous with The Cathedrals. Now if you said Glen and George, then yes. But it seems to me to just be George now with little reference to Glen Payne.

12:10 AM  
Anonymous Daniel J. Mount said...

I like Glen Payne, too. :) Nobody will ever do "We Shall See Jesus" like he did.

But this does raise an interesting question: Do fans have to explain why they name a certain singer as the best? This sort of thing is often highly subjective. George was the emcee; he made audiences laugh and cry, and had the most opportunities to connect with an audience.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous quartet-man said...

My three favorite basses of all time are (in no particular order) George Younce, Tim Riley and Richard Sterban. With that being said, Aaron McCune is very good at very young. Herman Harper and Noel Fox were good. I have heard several other basses, but not so much Waits etc. I am sure I have heard a little, but nothing that really stood out to me. J.D. was a good stylist and of course lower, but he had nowhere near the cut or resonance of the top three I mentioned.

Glen was good, and I never really got into Old Friends quartet even though Ernie, George and Garry Jones were there. Never really a fan of Hess's singing which always seems to get some people riled with me. :)

One of the reasons I think that Old Friends never did it for me was not having Glen in there. Another might be Garry (as great as we was) was not the entertainer that Roger was. Probably a better musician to some degree, but not the whole package.
Another was the material and arrangements. I also think that George was not anywhere near as much as he had been with the Cats. Wesley was an okay singer, but not really the baritone that the group needed. Even if these four had done Cathedrals songs and arrangements they would not have been as good as the Cathedrals themselves.

Glen of course was great, but the Cathedrals were also great with others on lead. Plus, it seems to me that good lead singers are more plentiful. No one like Glen though.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Southern Gospel Perspective said...

Quartet-man, thanks for all your comments!!

I'm not sure I understand your last comment here, though. The Cathedral Quartet never had another lead singer besides Glen Payne, so I'm not sure how you can say they were great with other lead singers.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Kyle Boreing said...

To defend Quartet Man's comments, I think he meant when other members had lead vocals.

Okay, now on to my comments....

Glen and George were indeed the Cathedrals. But you might notice that following Glen's passing, Scott and Roger took on the duty of honoring Glen with Legacy Five, even recording Roger's tribute song, "Heroes Of The Faith." In a way, Legacy Five was "Glen's group."

SSQ, on the other hand, was always "George's Group," which I can definitely understand, being as Ernie and George were related. George even was part owner of SSQ before his death.

It all depends on who you ask.

Same goes with just about any group. Take Gold City. Ask someone who they identify with Gold City, some will say "Tim Riley," some will answer, "Ivan and Brian," some will say "Jay Parrack." Or even the Gaither Vocal Band. Some will say, "Guy Penrod," some will say "Michael English," some will say, "Mark Lowry"....It all depends on your preferences.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Southern Gospel Perspective said...

Kyle, upon re-reading his comments, perhaps you are right.

I've never really thought about the L5/SSQ thing the way you pointed it out, but you are absolutely correct. L5 seems to be more of a Glen "tribute" group and SSQ a George "tribute" group. At least and more so in their beginnings.

I still don't think that answers the question of why George seems to be most remembered/revered now as THE CATHEDRAL, unless you mean to say that SSQ is more popular and getting that "word" out better than L5?

All of this is very interesting and brings up much more food for thought.

Thanks for the comment!

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Gaither did a tribute to Glen Payne exclusively, as he did for George Younce....I think Glen is included in a video with a few other deceased singers..not right. Glen should've had his own video. The Cathedrals were Glen/George. Reading the Cathedrals/Ace Collins book, that definitely comes through. They were a Team. When I saw them for the last time in Toronto, George was there, but Glen was not. I was truly saddened not to see Glen one last time. Roger and Scott and Ernie did well covering, but it aint' the same........Glen and George were a team, and their trademark sound came from both....I do give Glen a slight edge there, as the edge/brilliance in his voice is more recognizable than the bass vocal of george, but not by much.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with your perspective. Glen and George were the Cathedrals and they both provided the unique sound of the quartet. Bill Gaither himself said it on one of the Cathedral videos,"over the years Glen and George had various tenors and baritones but always had the great sound and close harmonies". Glen and George also had a great ear for talent and selected men that would provide that quality sound they strived for. I am not sure where you heard someone say George Younce and the Cathedrals because I have never seen it that way. You seem to be saying George was greater than the Cathedrals. The only reason I can think that George might have had a little additional notoriety is the fact that he lived 5 more years than Glen and was featured a lot on the Gaither videos. First of all George or Glen neither one would have have ever let themselves be deified in any way but would have given all the glory to God. As far as George being the best bass I believe he was and not just because someone is trying to bring it up today. He won the favorite bass singer award 14 times when he was alive with the Cathedrals and Glen also won the favorite lead 10 times as well, in fact the Cathedrals were the most awarded grop ever. March 15th 2008 I went to see an Evening to Remember(former Members of the CATS groups)in B'ham AL, L5, MTT, GV, and Danny Funderburk. In the 2nd half of the program former CATS members sing, Glen Dustin of L5 was doing the bass since he is the only one in the groups. Gerald Wolfe remarked that Glen Dustin was doing a great job and reminded him somewhat of George. Glen then stated " George was the Best", to which there was a thunderous applause in the facility. So enuf said.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Southern Gospel Perspective said...

#9, I think you have a point in that George did live longer than Glen and so maybe stayed in the public eye longer.

I never meant that George (or Glen) thought of themselves as greater than the other or as "deities". It just seems to me from reading and hearing conversations that many of the public get the George perspective more than the Glen one.

I think Kyle made some great points about SSQ's popularity continuing to expand George's. Whereas Legacy 5 was more of a Glen tribute group.

Thanks for the comments!

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crazy perspectives! Just crazy!

10:00 PM  

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