THE ALL-NIGHT RADIO BROADCASTS
...The Dramatic Spread of Gospel Music Through the Airways
In Texas they like to do things in a big way. That is where the BIG All Night broadcast was held. It evolved from
the success of the Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Company, their annual Singing School Normal and V. O.
Stamps and his Stamps Quartet.
Among the many gifts of V.O. Stamps was his tremendous ability to communicate to the
public, especially through the use of radio. So it is easy to see how quartet singing,
singing schools and dreaming of doing things big brough the All Night Broadcast into
The 50,000 Watt "Blow Torch"
Radio was such a major factor in the spread of Gospel music, and Mr. Stamps brought
it all together. It seemed to be a perfect example of right time, right place, and right
For example, one feature of the 1936 Texas Centennial celebration in Dallas was a
series of radio studios in hexagonal glass booths at the fair grounds. Rural folk were
fascinated. They had heard radio broadcasts but had never seen one.
The Stamps–Baxter quartets performed several live broadcasts at that year's
state fair, and KRLD in Dallas, impressed with the reception, decided to try a
noonday program in the fall of 1936. V. O. Stamps entreated listeners to write in if
they liked the music. Within a week KRLD was deluged with mail. The KRLD
broadcasts, sponsored by American Beauty Flour, became noontime staples in
Texas. Eventually, live gospel singing expanded into the morning hours at 6:45
AM and occupied a 10 PM evening slot. At noon during the summertime, it was
possible to walk down any street in Texas within broadcast range of KRLD and
hear the Stamps Quartet singing.
In the beginning, the very successful singing school normal was held in one of the largest churches in Dallas, but
it was not enough seating to have the closing night of the school. People came from the Southeast, the
Southwest and a few guest from as far away as California. Why, there were folk from as far north as St. Louis,
Missouri. That sounded like `way up north to most of us from the South.
By 1938 the Stamps–Baxter singing normals in Dallas became so popular that V. O.
Stamps hosted an All Night Singing at the end of the three-week class session in
June. KRLD carried the first broadcast, which was held in the iconic and cavernous
Here's the great part: At midnight FCC limitations were lifted, so KRLD turned up the
wattage, and the broadcast which already could be heard nationwide through the
50,000 watt "blow torch" signal, literally went international. Soon, V. O. Stamps and his quartets were traveling to
Del Rio and providing wire recordings to radio station XERA for international broadcast on a regular basis.
From the Church to the Global Airways
In 1945 Frank Stamps, Stamps Quartet and the Lester Stamps Quartet left the Stamps-Baxter organization to
form the stamps Quartet Music Company, and they carried on the All Night Broadcast tradition. I was privileged to
attend four of these massive events as a member of the Stamps-Ozark Quartet. We were based in nearby
Wichita Falls, and were featured as company groups along with the Stamps Quartet, the Lester Stamps Quartet,
the Friendly Four of Fort Worth, the Stamps All-Star Quartet.
By the time I was part of this event, it was located in the Sportatorium, located in downtown Dallas, Texas, a huge
barn-like arena used primarily for the famous Big D Jamboree and professional wrestling events. The building
(which stood for years near today's I-30 and I-35E Interchange in Dallas) had a seating capacity of approximately
4,500. The walls of that famed building would seem like there were ready to come down when the audience
especially liked your singing.
The Blackwood Brothers Quartet were there, too, hailing from
Shenandoah, Iowa. That sounded like a long way from home to us,
as well. They got your attention, not just because they were so
good, but because they were from so far away. So were groups
such as the Rangers Quartet. It was truly a Gospel singing
Add to that the 50 or so groups from the singing school, and it was
an event like nothing before or since. What an exciting time it must
have been for the singing school students. I know it was for me,
and I was from one of the featured Stamps groups.
Multiplied thousands were gathered in the stadium and heaven
only knows how many were listening by radio. One indicator came during the evening broadcasts when fans
would send telegrams from so many faraway places around the world. It was exciting to know our beloved style of
music was so widely accepted.
I also know that everywhere we went, people would tell us they were there at the singing or were listening via
Hot Crowds and Unforgettable Groups
The groups from the singing school sang one number each. The professional groups were given a two-song slot.
If the audience called you back for a third or even a fourth song, the organizers let you keep the platform. The
very top groups were given 20-30 minutes.
Sometimes it was simply electrifying when a group ignited the audience in a special way. Often the crowds simply
wouldn't let the show-stoppers leave the stage until they did more numbers.
So many people responded to being there and
seeing it all happen. Timing was everything. The
crowd stayed excited until 3 A.M. or so, then
sometimes the excitement would taper off until 6 A.M. when the groups came back alive for the final hour.
It was hot on those Saturday nights in the middle of
June, yet I don't think I ever heard one person say
anything negative about the events. All they wanted
to talk about was the groups, the songs and the
excitement of being there.
All I remember was how I was so glad to be there.
For a kid from Person County, North Carolina, I felt
like I was in tall cotton. Performing there was
spectacular. Being with all the other groups and
hearing them at their best was simply incredible.
There are several events that have been billed as
the "Grandfather of the All-Night Singing." I'm sure
it will be debated for years to come. All I know is
that I'm glad I was part of the one in Dallas, and I'm
especially grateful for the fact that V.O. Stamps had
the forethought to transform His live singings into
far-reaching radio events.
We may never know, this side of heaven, how many people were touched by those broadcasts, but I remember.
So do thousands who come up to me at concerts, even today, who recall those powerful events.
What was it like to be in a big-time group in what many consider to be the golden years of Gospel
music? Let me tell you what happened when I got a call to join the Stamps Ozark Quartet and how it
changed my life forever!
|Always the visionary...
V. O. Stamps
Oh, how the glory
would fill that
silver and white
those All Night
Singings that were
broadcast to the
world from the
|Blackwood Brothers (1948)
Bill Lyles, R. W. Blackwood, James
Blackwood, Roy Blackwood, Doyle
Blackwood, and Hilton Griswold at the piano
MyBestYears.com I REMEMBER eColumnist Henry Slaughter has
captivated countless audiences around the globe with his award-winning
During the past six decades he has been associated with some of the top
- Stamps-Ozark Quartet
- Rex Humbard
- Bill and Gloria Gaither
But his story is more than national awards and international recognition, and
his well-received autobiography, In Search of the Pearl of Great Price, first
published in 1980, is the personal account of Henry’s down-home North
Carolina roots, his tragedies, returning to “zero” again and again. It is a story
of music born in a bittersweet mix of life’s valleys and mountaintops.
The book has not been widely available for several years, so we asked Henry
to see if he could find some copies of his autobiography to offer in response
This is the book of which the legendary songwriter Bill Gaither, in his
Foreword wrote, “The question I am asked more than any other is, ‘How can I
get into gospel music as a career?’ Henry’s life is a good example of how one
young lad from the Carolinas pursued that goal. He simply developed his
skills and then waited as the Lord opened doors. His life is a perfect example
of a person letting the Lord open and shut doors…I believe this book will help
show how one pilgrim pursuing a Christian music career has tried to follow
God’s leading through the door-opening-and-closing process.”
BOOK AND 5 CDS, TOO!!!
Well, not only did Henry find a treasure trove of books that he has
agreed to allow us to offer exclusively on MyBestYears.com, but he
also agreed to let us market two of the best-of-the-best Gospel music
albums he and Hazel ever recorded, as well as three amazing CDs
that we have obtained from other suppliers.
All the CDs are chock-filled with hit after hit that have filled the airways and
hearts over the past six decades!
THANKS, I THINK I’LL PLAY ONE features 18 incredible songs by the eight-
time Dove Award-winning instrumentalist, including:
- "The Longer I Serve Him"
- "Greater Is He"
- "Forever Is a Long, Long Time"
- "What a Precious Friend Is He"
- "Gentle Shepherd"
- "Thanks to Calvary"
WE’VE COME THIS FAR BY FAITH is a double-album on one CD by one of
America’s favorite duets. Featuring 20 songs, including:
- "We’ve Come This Far by Faith"
- "Oh, How I Love Those Old Songs"
- "More Precious Than Silver or Gold"
- "Let’s Just Praise the Lord"
- "Written in Red"
Henry Slaughter's GREAT HYMNS OF OUR TIME Double Album on one
CD features 21 Majestic Instrumental Favorites from the Southern Gospel
Music Hall of Famer, including:
- "How Great Thou Art"
- "In My Heart Rings a Melody"
- "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"
- "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder"
Henry and Hazel Slaughter's Tribute - To God Be the Glory CD
In 1973 Henry & Hazel Slaughter celebrated 25 years together with this
landmark collection of audience and radio favorites, including:
AVAILABLE ON CD FOR THE FIRST TIME.
- "My Tribute"
- "Only Jesus Can Satisfy Your Soul"
- "I Should Have Been Crucified"
- and seven more classic treasures!
Slaughter Writes - Imperials Sing CD
Jack Hess, Sherrill Nielsen, Armond Morales Gary McSpadden and Henry
Slaughter perform Henry's best-known songs, including:
"What a Precious Friend Is He"
"I'm Gonna Move Up to Heaven"
"Then the Answer Came"
and 9 more timeless classics featuring the priceless harmonies of the original
Recorded in 1965 and AVAILABLE ON CD FOR THE FIRST TIME.