The Violinaires have been an institution in Detroit gospel music since 1952, appearing under a variety of names -- usually the Violinaires or the Fantastic Violinaires -- and being led by a number of singers, including founder Willie Banks and Robert Blair, who led the group until his death in 2001, when he was replaced by pastor Danny Walker. The first version of the Violinaires was formed by Isaiah "Lil Shot" Jones, Leo Coney, and Wilson DeShields in 1952. Not long afterward, Providence Thomas and Raymond, Mississippi native Willie Banks joined, and the group adopted the name the Violinaires. From the outset, the membership of the group changed frequently, but Jones, Coney, and DeShields were mainstays through the '50s. The Violinaires made their recording debut in 1953, when "Another Soldier Gone" appeared on the local ...
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