The Fairfield Four
gospel group, Nashville
National Heritage Fellowship (1989)
Governor’s Award in the Arts (1994)
Photo by Robert Cogswell
Beginning as an a capella youth group in the 1930s, the Fairfield Four rose to prominence during the heyday of African American quartet singing in the 1940s through nationwide touring and a syndicated radio show. There were many changes in the group’s personnel over the years, but its success came under the long leadership of tenor singer Rev. Sam McCrary. As the quartet era waned, the group disbanded in 1960, but they reorganized as the result of reunion performances in 1980 to introduce their gospel harmonies to a new generation of listeners. They performed in the Tennessee program at the 1986 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife. The group’s members during the period of their heritage recognitions were McCrary, James Hill, Isaac Freeman, Willie Richardson, Wilson Waters, and Robert Hamlett.
For The Fairfield Four’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1989_02&type=bio.
For more about the Fairfield Four and their recordings, go to
For further reading, see:
Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 188-90, 712.
Seroff, Doug. 1988 Gospel Arts Day Nashville Program. Nashville: Nashville Gospel Ministries, 1988. To download a copy, click here.
Zolten, Jerry, “Don’t You Let Nobody Turn You ‘Round: Seventy Years of Harmony with the Fairfield Four, “ Rejoice!: The Gospel Music Magazine (Dec/Jan 1991/1992): 3-11.
Zolten, J. Jerome, “The Media-Driven Evolution of the African American Hard Gospel Style as a Rhetorical Response to Hard Times,” The Howard Journal of Communications 7, 3 (1996):`185-203.
The Fairfield Four: Revival, Spring Fed SFR-109 (CD, 2012).
Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
Standing in the Safety Zone, Warner Brothers 9-26945-2 (CD, 1992)
I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray, Warner Brothers 9-46698-2 (CD, 1997)
Wreckin’ the House, Dead Reckoning DEAR 0009 (CD, 1998)
Dig a Little Deeper, custom recording (cassette, 1989)