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Willie Banks and The Messengers


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” When the story of gospel music is written, at least a chapter will be about Willie Banks and The Messengers. Born in Raymond, Mississippi, more than a half century ago, Willie started singing gospel with his mother at the age of five. Since then, he has gone on to sing with The Flying Clouds, The S. C. Violionaires, The Trumpets of Joy, Sister Edna Gallmon Cook, and The Jackson Southernaires.

In 1968, he formed his own group, Willie Banks and The Southernaires. They were signed to the Peacock-Songbird label. Shortly after signing, the group released Heaven Must Be A Beautiful Place. Willie left the Peacock label and formed Willie Banks and The Messengers in 1972. The HSE Record label out of Nashville, Tennessee signed them. With the label, the group released four albums entitled God’s Goodness, For The Wrong I’ve Done, Mother Why, and Still In Charge. In 1979, they received a Grammy nomination for Traditional Male Group of The Year. All of the aforementioned albums were mainstays on the Billboard Magazine Top Forty Spiritual Charts.

Willie looked forward to the day that he could take time off and spend time with his family in Raymond. But those plans dramatically changed when on July 6, 1981, 19 miles west of Atlanta, Georgia, the van that carried Willie and his group left the road and plunged fifty feet down an embankment.

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