(Posted November 2, 2015)

The Fairfield Four will perform at The Stone Church of the Brethren, in Huntingdon, Pa., at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 8.
The Fairfield Four will perform at The Stone Church of the Brethren, in Huntingdon, Pa., at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 8.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Fairfield Four, one of the most influential gospel quartets of all time, will perform the sacred music that has gained them acclaim across the world at The Stone Church of the Brethren, in Huntingdon, Pa., at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 8.

Tickets are $5 and may be purchased online at www.juniata.edu/pacstickets and are available at The Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies during business hours. The Baker Institute is in Oller Center, first floor, located at 18th and Mifflin streets.

After the performance, the group and Jerry Zolten, a musicologist and Penn State Altoona associate professor of communication arts and sciences, will lead a discussion on how gospel music, and the Fairfield Four's music in particular, has helped reduce racism.
The concert is sponsored by Juniata College, the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Huntingdon Rotary, Comfort Inn and the Stone Church. The Stone Church is at the corner of 17th and Moore streets.

The Fairfield Four has been a driving force in gospel music nearly since the group's inception in 1921. Organized by original member, pastor J.M. Carrethers of the Fairfield Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., the quartet was, along with such groups as the Bessemer Sunset Four and the Birmingham Jubilee Singers, one of the first gospel quartets to reach a regional and nationwide audience through radio airplay. Their seamless vocal interplay deeply influenced early rhythm-and-blues and rock 'n' roll groups such as the Orioles, the Platters and many others.

Although no original members of the group remain, the current lineup retains family ties to the founders of the Fairfield Four. Joe Thompson, lead singer and leader of the group, is related to the Carrethers brothers who formed the first incarnation of the Fairfield Four. The group's vocalists are: Thompson, Levert Allison, Larrice Byrd Sr. and Bobbye Sherrell.

After the performance, the group and Jerry Zolten, a musicologist and Penn State Altoona associate professor of communication arts and sciences, will lead a discussion on how gospel music, and the Fairfield Four's music in particular, has helped reduce racism.


The group's music has had a renaissance of sorts over the past 25 years, beginning with two albums, "Standing in the Safety Zone" in 1992 and "I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray" in 1997 and culminating with an appearance in the film "O Brother Where Art Thou" singing "Lonesome Valley." The current lineup maintains a steady performing career as well as periodically recording albums.

The group has received many awards, including recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Lifetime Achievement Award, the James Cleveland Stellar award and the 1997 Grammy Award for the Best Traditional Gospel recording for "I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray."

Jerry Zolten has been associated with the Fairfield Four since the 1990s, when he he produced two CDs, one featurung the quartet, "Wreckin' the House," and "Beautiful Stars," a solo album by the late Isaac Freeman.

In addition to his teaching duties, Zolten has an influential career as an author of the book "Great God A'Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds/Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music," and as a radio commentator on such public radio specials as "Chimpin' the Blues," with cartoonist Robert Crumb, and "In the Spirit," a history of African-American gospel.

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.