The year 2007, marks the 45th anniversary celebrating the legacy of J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. Formed originally in 1924, the Stamps name boasts the longest history of any quartet in gospel music industry. That longevity would have been impossible without the blood, sweat and tears of J. D. Sumner. One name is synonymous with the other. That is a part of gospel music history and cannot be ignored.
That moment in time, began in 1962, when business partners; J. D. Sumner and James Blackwood of the famed Blackwood Brothers Quartet, purchased the Dallas-based, Stamps Quartet Music Company from Mr. Frank Stamps. After purchasing the historic company, immediate plans were put in motion to once again give rebirth to the Stamps Quartet name. This reformation was under the direction, guidance and creative mind of J.D. Sumner.
Sumner remained as the bass singer with the Blackwood Brothers until 1965, when he made the decision that would prove to be the most pivotal point in the destiny of the Stamps Quartet. Sumner left the Blackwood Brothers Quartet and became the bass singer with the Stamps, creating what would be forever recognized as J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. He was finally home!
You remember that a mantle was passed from Frank Stamps to J. D. Sumner, as far back as the 1920’s, when a four-year old, after hearing Frank Stamps sing at a Wimauma, Florida camp meeting, told his mama that he knew he “was going to be a bass singer like Mr. Frank Stamps”.
Gospel music would never be the same again. J. D. Sumner not only remained as the visionary leader of the Stamps Quartet, he helped create the groundbreaking sound that would ear mark J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet as one of the most successful groups gospel music had ever experienced. Innovations from the creative mind of J.D. Sumner were implemented by his group. They were already touring in their custom bus since 1962. They were the first group in gospel music to use four microphones. J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet was the first quartet to add a band to the sound. They were one of the first gospel group’s chosen to entertain the troops and they traveled abroad on numerous occasions. Sumner surrounded himself with some of the most talented young people in the gospel music field. They would hit the stage running with excitement and energy, enabling them to transcend the boundaries of age and style. Their unique blend, close harmony and excitement, won them fans everywhere. They set trends and helped broaden the scope of gospel music.
It was this quality, uniqueness and expertise that won J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet a coveted spot on the Elvis Presley show. Sumner and his Stamps had the honor of working with Elvis on his personal appearances, films and recordings from 1971, until they made their last live appearance with Elvis on June 26, 1977.
J. D. Sumner and the Stamps blazed a new path in the gospel music field, when Sumner committed his group to taking gospel music into the secular arena, working with Elvis Presley. Having the opportunity of bringing southern gospel music to fans, that may have not had the exposure to gospel music, was huge. Every tour, every night, opening the Elvis Presley shows with gospel music had been the dream of J. D. Sumner and behind his decision to work with Elvis Presley. J.D. knew Elvis loved gospel music as much as he did. By working with Elvis Presley, J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet created a whole new fan base for gospel music.
That format also established another first for J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. They were the only major southern gospel group whose repertoire included, in addition to gospel music, a healthy portion of secular standards, and country/western tunes. This was partly due to their performance venues including; conventions, special events, fairs, Graceland/Elvis related performances, and traveling abroad.
Their opportunity and experience working with Elvis, established a platform enabling them to reach a broad section of the music fan as a whole, not just those who attended church on Sunday. In ministering their own way, they held true to the belief of reaching people with the gospel to the ends of the earth. J. D. enjoyed getting the attention of his audiences with a familiar song, be it gospel, an Elvis hit or a country and western ballad, and then reaching their hearts with the music he loved the most (gospel music).
Even though J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet worked with Elvis Presley, they maintained a full gospel itinerary, which presented the best of both worlds. Records would show that in the time frame they were working both arenas, they had the opportunity to present gospel music to more audiences and a larger number of people than anyone had, before that time.
J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet maintained a major force in the Gospel Music Industry for the past thirty three years, with such talented members (in alphabetical order) as; C. J. Almgren 1988-1995, Tim Baty 1968-1969, Bill Baize 1971-1976, Jimmy Blackwood 1965-1969, Billy Blackwood 1966-1969, Ronnie Booth 1976, Tony Brown 1965-1972, Pat Brown 1976, Nick Bruno 1972-1974, Gary Buck 1970-1971, Gary “Buck” Buckles 1976-1978, Duke Dumas 1966-1972, Ed Enoch 1969-1980 again 1991-1998, Big John Hall 1964-1965, Kenny Hicks 1970-1973, David Hildreth 1969-1970, Ed Hill 1975-1979 and 1988-1998, Jim Hill 1965-1968, Jerry Kelso 1995-1998, Richard Lee 1979, Mylon LeFevre 1963-1965 and 1966-1968, Ronnie Mabe 1974-1977, Roger McDuff 1964-1965, Roy McNeal 1968-1970, Jennifer O’Brian 1979-1980, David Ponder 1980, Chuck Ramsey 1965, Linda Robinson 1972, Dave Roland 1974-1975, Milton Smith 1977, Sandra Steel 1978-1979, Larry Strickland 1976-1980, Rick Strickland 1994-1998, Richard Sterban 1970-1973, Donnie Sumner 1965-1974, Tommy Thompson 1990, Jack Tony 1988-1991, Jerry Trammel 1998-1991, Steve Warren 1988-1989 and 1991-1994, Ed Wideman 1973.
To the last and some of the longest standing members of J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet who were there until they sang the last song with this most distinguished organization were: Ed Enoch, Ed Hill, Rick Strickland and Jerry Kelso. For the thousands of miles traveled, for the inspirational performances you shared, for the companionship and love for one another. Most importantly, the One about whom you sang and to whom we give honor and glory. We thank you for everything.
One of the last statements made by J. D. Sumner was that he hoped “we would hear his music after he was gone”. With the success of the website and the continued support of his fans, the legacy of J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet lives on and is in good hands as long as we remember.
Ed Enoch, owner – manager – lead singer - is continuing the legacy of the Stamps Quartet by receiving the official/legal trademark for the historical
Stamps Quartet name in 2003. The Stamps continue to make recordings, are regularly seen on television and constantly tour the United States, Canada, Hawaii, European and Asian countries performing Gospel, Secular, and
Elvis music as only the Stamps Quartet can.
Ed Enoch and members of the “world-famous” Stamps Quartet were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1997. The Stamps have received numerous Grammy and Dove awards for “The Best Gospel Group”, and “The Best Gospel Album of The Year.”
The Stamps Quartet has performed with Elvis – The Concert - at such prestigious venues as the, Radio City Music Hall, New York City;
Madison Square Garden, New York City; The Astrodome, Houston, Texas; The Silver Dome, Pontiac, Michigan.
Ed Enoch and The Stamps Quartet performances also include,
The Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Hall, Memphis, TN.
Gaither Homecoming Videos, Elvis – He Touched Me Videos.
The Gospel Side of Elvis recording – featuring the Stamps Quartet.
Television specials: CBS – NBC - TNN – TBN - GMT - PBS.
The Stamps Quartet was special guests performing on various television shows: The Crook and Chase Show, the Ralph Emery Show, Nashville Now,
The Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, TN., and NBC Dateline News Special - 2002
Numerous performances at state and county fairs - festivals throughout the United States, Canada, Hawaii, and International festivals.
The Stamps Quartet was honored as special guests appearing on the
Country Music Association's (CMA) – Fan Fair 2004, Nashville, Tennessee.
Ed Enoch has performed internationally with The Stamps Quartet and
with Elvis-The Concert - performing, live, sold-out concerts in prestigious venues ( 2004): Forest National Arena, Brussels, Belgium; NEC Arena, Birmingham, England; Sheffield Arena, Sheffield, England; Telewest Arena, Tyne, England; SECC, Glasgow, Scotland; Appollo Hammersmith, Hammersmith, London; Evening News Arena, Manchester, England; Winbleon Arena, London, England; Neil Blaisdell Center, Honolulu,
Hawaii, (2005) and Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore - (2005).
The Stamps Quartet were back up vocalists for:
The “world’s greatest entertainer”……………………………….Elvis Presley
“First Lady of Country Music”……………………………………Tammy Wynette
Country Bluegrass Artist…………………………………………..Ricky Skaggs
Country Music Artist………………………………………………Brenda Lee
Country Music Artist………………………………………………Jerry Lee Lewis
Country Music Artist……………………………………………….Willie Nelson
Pop Artist……………………………………………………………Leslie Ughams
“The Singing Governor of Louisiana………………………………Jimmie Davis
Members of the Stamps Quartet:
Ed Enoch - Owner – Manager – Lead Vocalist
Michael Helwig, Baritone
Joseph Frech, Tenor
Seth Dillehay , Bass Vocalist
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