Henry Burton, Oral History


Henry Burton, Oral History


Henry Burton, Jefferson County gospel quartet singer and member, Pillars of Birmingham. Henry served in Korea as a vocalist and his gospel group, the Christian Special Service Group, was an opening act for Marilyn Monroe’s performance for the troops at Daegu, Korea, in February, 1954. Henry talks about his history of quartet singing for a description for a CD package.


Henry Burton
Bob Friedman


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


May 25, 2007


Lindsey Reynolds
Emily Bibb








Bob Friedman


Henry Burton


Transcript from audio snippet:

Henry Burton: The first time I got an opportunity to sing gospel, William Blevins let me sing one song, a solo, on his radio station.

Bob Friedman: Do you remember what it was?

HB: I can’t remember now what it was.

BF: You were a little kid?

HB: Yeah

BF: Was your voice deep or was your voice high back then?

HB: It was deep, he was my idol. My voice was deep.

BF: Was William Blevins’s voice deep?

HB: Yeah. He had a deep and high voice.

BF: He had a wide range?

HB: Yeah, he had a wide range. And I experienced, wanted from singer solo to quartet. I learned how to modulate, you know higher pitch. As I got older and more experienced. I went to lead to tenor to fifth. Even to six. That’s what they call it now…

BF: Now the first time you sang with Blevins you say was at WJLD and it was in Bessemer City Hall and it was in 1946.

HB: Bessemer City Hall.

BF: Do you remember meeting anybody, you were a little kid then, well you were 14. Do you remember anybody from the station beside Mr. Blevins? In other words, you probably went there on a Sunday.

HB: I went there on a Sunday morning just to sing, sing that one song. After that I never did get a chance to go back till I start to singin’ quartets.

BF: What was the first quartet you sang in?

HB: The first quartet that I sung with was the Four Stars of Harmony.

BF: Remember what year that was?

HB: That should have been in…50… bout 1949 I believe it was, something like that.


Full interview: 30 minutes
Audio snippet: 2 minutes


Maddox Gospel Singers
Henry Burton  2 min.mp3
Henry Burton.pdf


Henry Burton and Bob Friedman, “Henry Burton, Oral History,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed May 29, 2024, https://www.thebbrm.org/item/83.

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