Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Names You Might Not Know Yet - The Chordsmen Quartet

In the late 70's three brothers The Chordsmen Quartet was formed by three brothers, Thomas, Gary and Keith Jennings. The group traveled for 15 years all over South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in churches and concerts. As life goes, changes came and the group had to leave the road. In 2013, Thomas's sons renewed the group. The group now consists of Jerry Jennings, Harold Jennings, Randy Leslie and Stephen Williams. Get to know a little bit about this group!

Question - When did you become interested in singing Southern Gospel music? What are some of your earliest memories of Southern Gospel?

Jerry Jennings - Of course, I don't remember, but my parents always said when I was born in October 1962, I was at in Greenville S.C. at the old Textile Hall for a Thanksgiving singing. So I guess you could say I was marked from birth to be involved in Southern Gospel music. As I grew older in the 70s we began going to the Charlotte Coliseum Easter singings with groups like The Happy Goodman, The Hinsons, The Oak Ridge Boys, Speer Family, The Lefevres, Jerry Goff, The Cathedrals and many, many more. That's when I really feel in love with the style and harmonies of a quartet. Men like Jerry Goff, Ronnie and Kenny Hinson, George Younce, Glenn Payne and Danny Funderburk were and still are a very big inspiration to me. They always had time to talk to the young fans that wanted to speak them and give encouragement to us.

Q - How did you get started?

Jerry - My dad, Tom Jennings, and his two brothers Keith and Gary began putting a quartet together in the mid 70s so I started on the tambourine at 13 years old. After a short while our drummer left and I began picking up the drums and by the grace of God I learned how to play. I did that for a few years along with practicing the bass guitar, then the bass player position was open so I moved to bass and my brother Harold moved into the drums spot. We traveled like that for a while then the tenor singer left, and I began singing tenor and playing bass for the next 10 years or so.

Q - How long have you been singing?

Jerry - I have been singing and/or  playing for 40 years and I have loved each and every minute and every mile of it!!

Q - What's one thing that you want people who walk away from your concert to know about you?

Jerry - I would like for people to walk away from one of our concerts or church services knowing that I love them.l I care for their souls and that God is right here wanting to give them the gift of eternal life.

Q - Do you have a favorite song that you sing? And what song from another group has ministered to you?

Jerry - My all time favorite song is "The Lighthouse" by Kenny Hinson. That was my first song I sang in public as a teenager, and I still sing it today. It's one of those songs that has an everlasting message.

Over the past three years that my brother Harold and I have had the group back on the road, I have been singing a song, "I Still Cling To The Old Rugged Cross." I first heard Brian Free's group sing this song, and it really ministered to me. We can try to cling to a lot of things down here on earth, but the only thing that will always be around is the love of my Savior and that's worth clinging to in life.

Q - What artists have been your biggest influence (musically and/or personally)? 

Jerry - I guess hanging around the all night singings there were a lot of artists that I looked up to, but the biggest influence musically was The Hinsons but not just one of them. The whole gang was so awesome. Ronnie and Kenny told me one night backstage that "when you're on stage you are the best in the business, but when you come down form the stage you are nobody special just a servant of God." That has stuck with me all of these years. Personally I would have to say my dad Thomas Jennings. He taught me to laugh, live, love and sing for The Lord. To keep God first in your life and you can't go wrong.

Q - What has been your favorite memory so far in your ministry?

Jerry - There are so many memories in The Chordsmen Ministry, but I have to go back to when my dad, two uncles, my brother and myself were traveling every weekend all over South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia together. But I'm looking forward to many memories of the "RENEWED" Chordsmen.

Q - What new things are coming up for you?

Jerry - We have a few new things coming up this year. We have started planning our first single release ever for TCQ, and we are very excited about it. We are also looking and listening for new songs to record on a new project. We were featured in the SGMA Promoters Association Showcase during NQC week with a wonderful lady Edna Wright. With all that God is doing for TCQ, we are keeping busy, and we love it. Keep us in your prayers that we will always be behind the cross so that He can be seen!!

For more on the Chordsmen, go to www.thechordsmenquartet.com.

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