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The Golden Age of Gospel - The Highway Q.C.'s

Favorite Group Series

The Highway Q.C.'s - The Way Up The Hill (

As I have said in the previous post, I would talk about some of my interests, college, music, and my experiences with Young Life. The main interest I have that not many millennials have is gospel music from the 50s and 60s. The reason for that is because this type of music has been forgotten for the last 60+ years in American music history. I believe that because it is gospel music, and that not many people listen to it despite the amount of white and black audiences it attracted then.

Out of all the greatest groups that came from that era, The Highway Q.C.'s are number one on my list. I listen to them everyday, from the time I get up to the time I go to sleep. The group's falsetto harmonies are so smooth and crisp that I would listen to some of their songs over and over again until I got tired of it. These guys should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; they have contributed rock and roll and soul influences to music. 

The Highway Q.C.'s were formed in Chicago in 1945 by six teenagers—Sam Cooke, Creadell Copeland, Marvin Jones, Charles Jones, Jake Richard, and Lee Richard. They were known as the Teenage Highway Q.C.'s, and got their name after a church named Chicago Highway Baptist Church (not sure about the Q.C. part). Sam Cooke sung with this group (not recorded, unfortunately) until 1951 to join the Soul Stirrers, another gospel group, which led to eventually him singing solo. 

Later in the 50s, a young guy from Missouri by the name of Johnny Taylor joined the group and his recording with them "Somewhere To Lay My Head" was a great hit on Vee-Jay Records. Other songs include "I Dreamed That Heaven Was Like This" and "He Lifted My Burdens" were released as singles, but did not make many hits. Soon, Taylor would leave the Q.C.'s and be with the Stirrers, taking Cooke's place. However, another person would dominate the group so much, he would be with them to this day for over 70 years.

Spencer Taylor takes Johnnie's (no relation) position as lead. Other members include James Davis (second lead), Chris Flowers (baritone), Arthur Crume (guitarist and tenor) and James Walker (bass). The group's major hit was "The Way Up The Hill," written by Johnny Broderick and Barbara Ruth, with Spencer leading the way. This is one of my favorite songs by them, from S. Taylor leading to the harmony from the group. When you listen, you can hear Flowers' baritone and Davis' tenor voices dominating the chorus singing "the way" and at the end, you can hear them say "joy on the way". Plus Walker's bass thumping through the song makes your head bob.

Two other songs that I like by these guys are "Nobody Knows" and "All Men Are Made By God."

"Nobody Knows" was led by second lead James Davis, and was arranged by the guitarist of the group, Arthur Crume. Davis' voice, in my opinion was more like Sam Cooke without the rasp. He led the way with his Cooke-like vocals as the group's harmony followed him. As he ended the song with his hum, I knew from then, no one could do that song like Davis himself.

"All Men Are Made By God" was led by Spencer Taylor, and it was written by James Walker, bass of the group, and Eloise McFaddin. The song starts with a slight guitar lead by Crume and progresses to a "marching" type style by the drums and piano. Due to the way the song began, anyone could understand the message behind the song: that everyone is equal, no matter what you look like because God created us as one race, the human race. Spencer led the message way carefully, and once again, the group's harmonies by the group followed him.

The group continued with Vee-Jay until its bankruptcy occurred in 1966. They moved on to Peacock, Savoy, Grammercy, and Malcro. Now, Spencer Taylor, 89, has been keeping the gospel highway going on. Last year, he won the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award given to him by the Stellar Awards. When I heard that, I was so happy about it. He really deserved that award.

These reasons that I gave on why I love the Highway Q.C.'s are really strong to me and will always will be. The Highway Q.C.'s are awesome! Keep the highway going, Mr. Taylor!


- "Somewhere To Lay My Head" (

- "I Dreamed That Heaven Was Like This" (

- "He Lifted My Burdens" (

- "Nobody Knows" (

- "All Men Are Made By God" (

- Bio on The Highway Q.C.'s (

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The Golden Age of Gospel - The Highway Q.C.'s
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