The Four Alphabets

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In an era when vocal groups became prevalent enough for new labels such as doo wop to seem necessary, an already seasoned quartet of gospel vocalists from Richmond, VA, stuck a tack in their holy rolling…
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In an era when vocal groups became prevalent enough for new labels such as doo wop to seem necessary, an already seasoned quartet of gospel vocalists from Richmond, VA, stuck a tack in their holy rolling and reinvented themselves as the Four Alphabets. Despite having been one of the groups responsible for bringing gospel music into the mainstream marketplace in the '30s, by the '50s the members of the Norfolk Jubilee Quartet might have been feeling commercial pressures shoving in another direction. Or perhaps it was aesthetic considerations that inspired the members of the group to take up secular music.

At any rate, it would turn out to be an instance where the lord's presence was better for the bank account, however. The Four Alphabets did pick up the backing of agent and producer Cliff Martinez -- no slouch he, having claimed responsibility for discovering the wacky Slim & Slam as well as prime doo wop chirpers the Crickets. But nothing particularly significant resulted from the relationship with Martinez or anything else the quartet spelled out artistically. The Four Alphabets should not be confused with the Alphabetical Four, a gospel group that was active in the '30s and '40s, coincidentally the time of the Norfolk Jubilee Quartet's greatest success.