The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio
Moving Up – The Early Years 1956-1965
Gospel Friend (release date: November 17, 2017)

By Bob Marovich

The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio, were one of the hardest singing quartets on the gospel highway during the genre’s storied golden era. The quartet was part of touring packages that crisscrossed the country.  They eventually made it to the stage of the Apollo Theater and across the ocean to Europe.

But as popular as the Gospelaires were, scant attention has been paid to them in the CD reissue market. It’s no surprise that Per Notini’s Gospel Friend label, the most ardent revivalist of gospel singers and groups that were yesterday’s headliners, is the first to release a commercial CD comprised entirely of Gospelaires’ singles and album tracks.

Moving Up – The Early Years 1956-1965 focuses on the first decade of the Gospelaires’ recording history. In addition to making such time-honored tracks as “Ride This Train” and “Rest for the Weary” available to the digital generation, Moving Up is the first known collection to include the Gospelaires’ rare first recording on the Texas-based Avant label: 1956’s “We Are Marching Together” / “Some People Never Stop to Pray.”

What one hears on the Avant disc is a group still searching for its own voice distinct from then-reigning quartets such as the Violinaires, the Golden Gate Quartet, and the Sensational Nightingales. They find it in the incendiary lead vocal work of Bob Washington, Paul “Easy” Arnold, and Melvin Boyd; the staff-leaping falsetto of Charles McLean; and Robert Lattimore’s rhythmic booming bass voice and stinging electric guitar accompaniment. The group waxed one superb side after another for Peacock Records, a label they would stay with for some twenty years.

Among Moving Up‘s most salient tracks—electrifying examples of the Gospelaires at their apex—are “Sit Down Children,” “He Heard Me Cry,” “I’ve Got It,” and “Trouble No More.”  After listening to Washington and Arnold trade leads on “I’ll Be So Glad,” one can only imagine what it must have been like to see them live.

The album notes, written by yours truly, represent the first extended history of the group. Compiled primarily from interviews and contemporaneous newspaper articles, the essay traces the Gospelaires’ origins from Dayton’s Edgemont area, a destination for southern migrants moving north to work in the burgeoning manufacturing sector, to its shift to Miami, where the current iteration is led by longtime member Bill Allen.

Moving Up demonstrates why the Gospelaires grew beyond the confines of Dayton, Ohio, to become one of the nation’s top quartets of the late 1950s and 1960s.

Five of Five Stars

Picks: “Some People Never Stop to Pray,” “Ride This Train”


  1. RB April 11, 2023 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    I’m not religious, but having grown up on Stax and Motown – recognized the entertainment value of gospel music, especially the black gospel music coming out from the 50’s – 70’s which gave pop, Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin among others. Quickly I fell in love with Marion Williams, the Consolers, the Swanee Quintet, the Violinaires and Dorothy Love Coates among others. Then I. stumbled upon a video of The Gospelaires of Dayton Ohio doing “I Feel the Spirit” and was absolutely blown away.. I quickly started searching for anything I could get my hands on by this amazing band. The Gospelaires Of Dayton, Ohio: Moving Up – The Early Years 1956-1965 quickly became my favourite album of all time – and I was sharing it with all my rock ‘n’roll friends – who became equally hooked. I’ve bought everything I can find from this band (even their weaker disco gospel album on Arista) and wish there was more live footage and biographical information on this incredibly talented group.

  2. Dr. John W.S. Howard August 9, 2023 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Did the Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio ever perform in the State of North Carolina

    • Bob Marovich August 9, 2023 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      I would imagine that they did at some point during their long career.

  3. Dr. John W.S. Howard August 14, 2023 at 10:20 am - Reply

    When and why did Paul Arnold leave the Gospelaires

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Written by : Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.