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|The Fairfield Four|
|Genres||A cappella, gospel|
|Members||Reverend Sam McCrary
James Hill (baritone)
Isaac Freeman (bass)
Edward Thomas (tenor)
Willie Frank Lewis (utility)
|Harold Carrethers (baritone)
Rufus Carrethers (bass)
John Battle (lead)
Lattimer Green (second lead)
Walter Settles Sr.
The Fairfield Four is an American gospel group that has existed for over 90 years, starting as a trio in the Fairfield Baptist Church, Nashville, Tennessee, in 1921. They were designated as National Heritage Fellows in 1989 by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States government's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. The group won the 1998 Grammy for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album. As a quintet, they featured briefly in the 2000 movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
The initial iteration of the group was under the direction of the church's assistant pastor, J. R. Carrethers, and consisted of his sons Rufus and Harold plus their neighbor John Battle. In 1925, the group became a quartet when Lattimer Green joined. During the 1930s, Green left the group and William Malone and Samuel McCrary joined, but they retained the name of Fairfield Four, although it had expanded its membership beyond a quartet. Following their initial radio broadcast on WSIX, the group gained recognition outside of Nashville.
In 1942, the group won a contest that resulted in an appearance on 50,000 watt radio station WLAC, with a hook-up to the CBS network. This performance was so successful that the group continued to perform on WLAC for the next decade, and group members became celebrities within the gospel music genre.
During the 1940s, the membership of the group continued to evolve. Their first recording session was held in 1946 at Nashville's Bullet Records and over the next 15 years, the group released over 100 recordings on the Bullet, Delta, Dot, Champion, and Old Town record labels. By 1949, Sam McCrary assumed leadership of the group and they continued to record and tour, with various membership changes. In 1954, McCrary left the group to become a minister. More personnel changes ensued, but by the late 1950s the group's popularity had waned, along with the decline of interest in a cappella gospel singing. The group disbanded in 1960.
In 1980, the group re-formed to participate in a special "Quartet Reunion" program in Birmingham, Alabama, and they performed again in 1981 at a Smithsonian Institution program on "Black American Quartet Traditions". The revitalized group has continued to perform from the 1980s to the present.
The group gained more popular recognition after appearing on John Fogerty's 1997 album Blue Moon Swamp, singing on the track "A Hundred and Ten in the Shade". They also undertook live appearances with Fogerty. In 2003, they performed with Dolly Parton on the song "There Will Be Peace in the Valley for Me" from her album For God and Country. They were later featured on the song "Rock of Ages" by Amy Grant & Vince Gill on Grant's 2005 studio album Rock of Ages... Hymns and Faith.