Washington D.C.-based R&B group the Syncopators formed in the months following World War II -- according to Marv Goldberg's profile in the June 1980 issue of Goldmine -- lead tenor James Pinkney, second tenor George Summers, sibling baritones Teddy and "Ghostie" Smith, and bass/guitarist Edmond Johnson devoted their repertoire strictly to ballads, much to the delight of older audiences. In the summer of 1949 the Syncopators won an amateur show sponsored by local radio stations WSID and WOOK, earning the attention of radio personality Walter Sutler, who agreed to assume managerial duties. After National Records owner Al Green caught a Syncopators' performance at Baltimore's Regal Theater, he offered the group a contract on the spot. Their debut "Mule Train" appeared in the fall of 1949, and Sutler mailed a copy to then-President Harry Truman, who responded with a thank-you note that earned the media attention Sutler sought. Just as the disc earned momentum, however, Mercury (which owned the rights to "Mule Train") issued a competing version by Frankie Laine, and the Syncopators rendition was left in the dust. Their follow-up "These Are Things I Want to Share with You" appeared on National soon after, but internal differences plagued the group and in early 1950 the Syncopators split -- Teddy Smith later resurfaced playing bass in the Horace Silver Quartet.
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