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Gospel group brings tunes of faith

Morgan serves as manager for the Gospel River Boys, a local group that recently was honored with an invitation to sing at the Dove Awards in Nashville, Tenn.

Wednesday, October 13, 1999

Morgan serves as manager for the Gospel River Boys, a local group that recently was honored with an invitation to sing at the Dove Awards in Nashville, Tenn. The Dove Awards are the gospel music equivalent of the Grammy Awards. The group also has been featured at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Ky.

"It takes forever to get to the Dove Awards," he says with pride. "This was a great honor."

Morgan works as a contractor by day, but he and his three colleagues in the Gospel River Boys spend hundreds of nights, weekends and holidays each year on the road carrying their musical ministry to concert-goers across the nation.

In addition to Morgan, the group includes Donald Davidson, who sings lead for the quartet; Paul Roach, who sings bass; and Jack Davidson, who sings baritone. Morgan sings tenor.

Morgan is a native of the Ironton area. He and his wife, Vickie, have two sons, Lee and Kurt, who also assists the group by serving as sound technician.

Donald Davidson lives in South Point and has been singing gospel music for more than 25 years. He and his wife, Violet, have three sons and four grandchildren. His brother, Jack Davidson, lives near Lexington, Ky. He has spent much of his life singing in gospel groups.

Roach lives in Ironton and has more than 20 years of experience singing gospel music. He and his wife, Cindy, have three children and one grandchild.

While performing at the Dove Awards, the group also was asked to sing with the evening’s mass choir, which combined the talents of dozens of groups.

"We have sung at the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, too," Morgan says, adding the group was contacted recently about being a part of an upcoming Bill Gaither video.

Morgan is a member of Central Christian Church in Ironton, but he laughingly adds that his three counterparts all attend Baptist churches.

"A soul saved is No. 1," he says of his group’s commitment to such an active musical ministry. "Uplifting people through song is another reason why we do more than 200 concerts each year."

Last year, the group surpassed even its most ambitious expectations by performing 276 concerts.

"It really is a full-time job," Morgan says as he proudly displays the photographs and autographs he has collected through his years of gospel singing. "Of course, everybody has become diversified in this business, which is why we have created our own production company called River Productions."

The Gospel River Boys are no strangers to gospel music as each member had previously sung with other groups.

"We had met each other at places when we were singing with other groups," Morgan recalls. "Finally, we decided to come together and form our own group about five yeas ago."

Since then, the group’s bookings have grown dramatically every year. In fact, the group’s national popularity and visibility have increased to the point where well-known gospel songwriters now provide them with new material.

"Some of our writers are the same folks in Nashville who have written songs for Amy Grant and Sandi Patty," Morgan says.

Their growing fame has taken them beyond the borders of the United States with concerts in Jamaica and Canada, he adds.

To accommodate their life on the road, Morgan and his fellow singers use a motor home to create a home away from home.

"All but one of us is from the Ironton area," he says. "People here just don’t realize how much talent there is right here at home.

"It’s not just me ­ there are a lot of people here who are tremendously talented musically."