By Robert M. Marovich
Darrell Luster of Malaco Music Group informed the Journal of Gospel Music that Henry Green, a longtime member of the Williams Brothers gospel quartet, passed away on Sunday, February 4, 2024, at the age of 80.
Green was born in Amite County, Mississippi, on March 23, 1943. He joined the Williams Brothers when Leon “Pop” Williams, the group’s founder, heard the young man singing at a Liberty, Mississippi, church. “I Thank You Lord,” one of the first four sides the Williams Brothers recorded (ca. 1967-8), represented Green’s first vocal lead on record.
The mellow first tenor singing of Green was an ever-present part of the Williams Brothers’ harmonies as the quartet’s reputation soared beyond Amite County. Song Bird Records, an all-gospel subsidiary of Peacock, signed the quartet in the late 1960s but appeared at first to be unsure of their capacity for success. That is, hedging their bets, they teamed the fellows with female vocalist Sister Lee Ida Brown and released an album on which the Williams Brothers had to share disc space with the Jackson Southernaires, another young and emerging Mississippi quartet.
By the early 1970s, however, the Sensational Williams Brothers had garnered a sufficiently large fan base to stand solidly on their own. They eventually performed coast-to-coast and around the world, appearing at such iconic venues as the Apollo Theater, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and Carnegie Hall. They shared the stage with some of the most popular gospel stars, including the Reverend James Cleveland, where they were part of Cleveland’s “World’s Greatest Gospel Show.” They went on to record for Nashboro, Savoy, Malaco, Myrrh, Tomato, Melendo, and other imprints. The Sensational Williams Brothers kept one foot in traditional gospel quartet singing and the other in the contemporary sounds of the era. As such, they helped pave the way for today’s contemporary quartet sound.
The Sensational Williams Brothers’ honors include more than 17 Stellar Awards, a BMI Trailblazer Award, Soul Train Awards, 5 GRAMMY nominations, and induction into the International Gospel Hall of Fame. Though not a Williams by blood, Henry Green was family. He was part of it all.
Blackberry Records, the Williams Brothers’ label, released solo recordings by Green in the mid-2000s, teaming him with such luminaries as John P. Kee and his pal, Melvin Williams of the Williams Brothers.
Henry Green now knows for certain what a 1976 Williams Brothers track suggested: “Heaven Must Be a Beautiful Place.”
Please join JGM in extending your sympathies to the family, fans, and many friends of Henry Green, and especially the members, past and present, of the Williams Brothers.