Chuck Wagon Gang
Legendary gospel group the Chuck Wagon Gang traces its roots to humble beginnings in 1935, when the farming Carters found themselves in Lubbock, Texas, without enough money to buy medicine for their sick child, Effie, who was battling pneumonia.
David “Dad” Carter approached the folks at radio station KYFO in Lubbock about hiring his family’s quartet for a daily program to help cover the cost of Effie’s medical care. They landed the job, Effie soon re-joined them, and the rest is music history.
The oldest recording mixed gospel group still performing with ties to the original founders, the Chuck Wagon Gang is now led by owner, manager and alto singer Shaye Smith, a great-granddaughter of founding member David “Dad” Carter and the granddaughter of Carter’s daughter, Anna (Effie) Carter.
Smith and the rest of the Gang’s current lineup — Stan Hill, Julie Hudson and Jeremy Stephens — will treat local listeners to their trademark country gospel sound when they perform Sept. 22 at Sullivan Central High School in Blountville.
Tickets to the 2:30 p.m. concert, a fundraiser for the school’s Athletic Boosters, are $10 in advance at Morrell Music and $15 at the door.
Over the years, the group has managed to record well over 800 songs, and sell 40 million records worldwide. Many of the group’s earliest recorded songs are still featured at today’s Chuck Wagon Gang concerts, including “The Church In The Wildwood,” “Higher,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Echoes From The Burning Bush,” “Heaven’s Really Gonna Shine,” “We Are Climbing,” “I’ll Meet You In The Morning” and “Looking For A City.”
Smith joined her Uncle Roy and the Chuck Wagon Gang in 1993 as the soprano, and sang with the group until the Wagon was parked in 1996. In 1999, she helped get the Gang back on the road, eventually moving to her current position of alto. Smith also arranges many of the Chuck Wagon Gang’s new songs.
The group’s tenor position is now held by Hill, who hails from Knoxville. Hill has been singing for years with his wife, in local groups and at various theaters in Pigeon Forge. Audiences have fallen in love with his new rendition of the Squire Parsons’ classic, “Sweet Beulah Land.”
Singing soprano for the Chuck Wagon Gang is Kingsport’s own Julie Hudson, whose voice has been compared with that of a young Rose Carter, one of the Chuck Wagon Gang’s founding members. She worked as a surgical nurse for 17 years before becoming a member of the Gang.
Serving as emcee, bass singer and guitarist for the group is Jeremy Stephens. Stephens was born in Lynchburg, Va., raised in Danville, Va., and now resides in Nashville. He graduated from Liberty University with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, but has chosen to pursue music, his lifelong passion.
For more information, call (423) 354-1200.