Dwayne Lightsey informed JGM this morning that Nathan Murphy, a gospel singer formerly with the James Herndon Singers and organizer of his own Nathan Murphy Singers, passed away August 17, 2015.
The James Herndon Singers were organized in the late 1960s by Caravans accompanist James Herndon. Members of the group besides Murphy included, at one time or another, Caravans alumnae Josephine Howard and Delores Washington, Luella Hunt, and the Helen Robinson Youth Choir’s Roxie Bibbs. The Herndon Singers’ hit, “Oh Lord Have Mercy,” was reported to have been one of the best selling gospel records of 1969.
In a 1977 Billboard interview, gospel singer-songwriter-producer Isaiah Jones Jr. told Jean Williams that he was producing a Nathan Murphy Singers album and was planning to fill some tracks with orchestral accompaniment. “I want the kids who want to grow up to be another Earth Wind & Fire to also want to be like the Nathan Murphy Singers,” Jones said.
The Nathan Murphy Singers’s 1982 LP for Essar, Something Old, Something New, included staples such as “Be a Fence Around Me,” “Sweet Sweet Spirit,” and “All on the Altar.”
More information on Mr. Murphy’s homegoing services will be made available in due course. Meanwhile, JGM extends its condolences to Nathan Murphy’s family, friends, and fans.