The Fairfield Four, the most distinguished proponents of traditional African American a cappella gospel singing working today, will appear at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27.
Organized in 1921 by the Rev. J.R. Carrethers, assistant pastor of the Fairfield Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, the a cappella style of the Fairfield Four was drawn from the Birmingham, Ala. quartet tradition exemplified by recording groups such as the Bessemer Sunset Four, the Birmingham Jubilee Singers, and the Famous Blue Jay Singers with lead vocalist, Silas Steele.
The Fairfield Four were among pioneers of African American gospel groups that used radio to reach broader audiences. Radio led to making records and, beginning in 1946, the Fairfield Four released sides on the Bullet, Dot, Delta, and MGM labels, and later on Champion, Old Town, and Nashboro. Extending themselves through the far reach of media, the Fairfield Four would influence both sacred and secular vocalists across the land, among them blues singer B.B. King. “Before I left my hometown of Indianola, Mississippi,” says King, “The Fairfield Four used to come on the radio every morning real early before we went to work. I became a great fan and, in fact, (Sam) McCrary had a lot of influence on my singing over the years, and that’s the truth.”
Today, the Fairfield Four are best known from their appearance on the soundtrack and on screen in the Coen Brothers 2000 film, O Brother, Where Art Thou. They are multiple Grammy winners with albums including Standing in the Safety Zone (1992) and I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray (1997) on Warner Brothers, Wreckin' the House (1998) on Dead Reckoning, The Fairfield Four and Friends Live from Mountain Stage (2000) on Blue Plate, and by their bass singer Isaac Freeman with the Bluebloods, Beautiful Stars (2003) on Lost Highway.
Tickets for the show start at $28 and may be purchased at www.fmupac.org, via telephone at (843) 661-4444, and at the FMU Performing Arts Center Box Office. Telephone and personal ticket sales are available Monday through Friday between 12-5 p.m. Subject to availability, tickets may be available for purchase at the door.
The PAC is located in downtown Florence at the intersection of Dargan and Evans Streets.