Published on March 8, 2016 by Rachel Sinclair  
Wake Me

Samford University will honor gospel music legend Hovie Lister and the Statesmen Quartet with the show Wake Me, Lord! Shake Me, Lord! April 8 at 7 p.m. in the Leslie S. Wright Center. 

Kenny Gannon, director of Samford’s Wright Center, coordinated this event to pay tribute to the group who revolutionized the music industry. “They had a profound influence on popular music, including Elvis Presley,” Gannon said. “They set a standard for gospel music that is hard to match.” 

Junior vocal performance major Austin Foster has been transcribing the Statesmen’s records by ear. “There really is no sheet music out there for any of these songs,” Foster said. “Back in the old days, the Statesmen picked out songs by ear.” 

Transcribing is tedious, as Foster spends at least two hours on each song. However, he says the process is incredibly rewarding. 

“Once I hear four singers bring my arrangements to life, I am reminded of what an honor it is to have the opportunity to arrange these songs.” 

Foster and three other Samford students will perform as “The Samford Diplomats,” a group representing the Statesmen Quartet when they first began.   

Diplomats include Josh Ferguson, a music graduate student from Hoover, Alabama; Brooks Hanrahan, senior business major from Hoover; Ryan Hanrahan, sophomore journalism and mass communication major from Hoover; and Foster, a junior voice major from Columbiana, Alabama. 

“The show is somewhat like a time-travelling experience,” Foster said, adding that they hope to “thrill the crowd with the upbeat songs that will have everyone tapping their toes and clapping their hands.” 

The other performing groups are the “Samford Revival Quartet” and “Former Statesmen and Friends of Hovie.” The entire show is authentic, complete with choreography, matching suits and genuine harmonies. 

The Samford Revival Quartet includes Guy Anderson ’74, a minister in Selma, Alabama; Timothy Banks ’74, Samford professor emeritus of music; Jerry Cunningham, a choral director and church musician from Tallassee, Alabama; and Jeff Stith ’86, a music minister from Helena, Alabama. Frank Jones ’74, pianist at Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover, will accompany the quartet. 

“Friends of Hovie” who have told Gannon they plan to attend and perform are Buddy Burton, Ed Hill, Roy McNeal, Ron Pauley, Roy Pauley and Tank Tackett. 

Lister died in 2001, but his wife, daughter and son are attending the event. Last year the Lister family invited Gannon to their home and allowed him to visit Lister’s home studio and office.  “Hovie’s hat, coat and backscratcher are still right where he left them,” Gannon said. 

The Lister family also made hundreds of previously unseen photographs available for Samford to use in the concert. “They appreciate what Samford is doing and trust us,” Gannon said. “I feel a powerful responsibility to do this right.” 

Tickets are available online or at the Samford box office in Swearingen Hall. Tickets start at $25. A “buy one, get one free” discount is available through the month of March with the code BOGOHOVIE. 

Rachel Sinclair is a journalism and mass communication major and a public relations assistant in the Division of Marketing and Communication.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.