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The group was four years old when JULIUS CHEEKS, a member of a local group called the BARONETS from Spartanburg, South Carolina, joined the SENSATIONAL NIGHTINGALES.
JOSEPH WALLACE, a former member of a Pennsylvanian group called the SILVERAIRES became their guitarist. Upon Julius Cheeks' recommendation the NIGHTINGALES also engaged BILL WOODRUFF, a remarkable baritone singer, born in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
HORACE THOMPSON, the bass guitarist, lead and background singer, joined the group in 1962. Before the SENSATIONAL NIGHTINGALES, Thompson sang with MADAME EDNA GALLMON COOKE group.CALVERT McNAIR, replaced Charles Johnson, one of the group's finest soloists, who left in 1983 to found his own gospel ensemble. McNair was introduced to gospel music at a very early age by his father, Reverend John McNair. Just prior to joining the SENSATIONAL NIGHTINGALES he was singing with WILLIE BANKS AND THE MESSENGERS. He remained with the group until 1996.
The SENSATIONAL NIGHTINGALES performed in Europe for the first time in 1983 at the BERN and VILLINGEN FESTIVALS. The following Summer they were on the bill of the "American Spiritual & Gospel Festival" with the STARS OF FAITH, the BARRETT SISTERS, and REVEREND ROBERT MAYES, and appeared at the MONTREUX, BERLIN, VIENNE (France) FESTIVALS, and at THE HAGUE (NORTHSEA).In 1984, the group was invited to make a two-month tour of Africa (Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Zaire, Congo, Cameroon) and of Europe (France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain).
In 1984 and 1985 their LP "I Surrender All" was in the charts for several months (Billboard Top Spirituals Albums) along with those of gospel stars such as JAMES CLEVELAND, the HAWKINS SINGERS, PHILIP BAILEY, the CLOUDS OF JOY, AL GREEN, and ANDRAE CROUCH.
Since 1987 the SENSATIONAL NIGHTINGALES have been touring our continent on a regular basis. They have performed at some important Summer festivals including MARCIAC, NORTHSEA, MONTAUBAN, LUGANO, CARTHAGE, MONASTIR, WETZLAR, PARAY-LE-MONIAL, and BRUGGE, and in countless concert halls and churches. Some highlights of the nineties were their appearances at the SACRED ARTS FESTIVAL OF THE CITY OF PARIS, the LIEGE GUITAR FESTIVAL, the CULLY JAZZ FESTIVAL, the PARIS GOSPEL FESTIVAL, JAZZ EN TOURAINE, and the BERN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL.
After forty-eight years of active membership, BILL WOODRUFF passed away during a tour in the Summer of 1993. He was replaced by RICHARD LUSTER, a former singer and bassist with CHARLES JOHNSON, who remained with the group for almost four years.
In May 1998, a new and talented soloist, LARRY MOORE from Norfolk, Virginia was engaged by the SENSATIONAL NIGHTINGALES. Since his youth he has been singing with various local choirs, and with the MIGHTY PEARL GATES. In 1989 he founded his own group, the SONS OF FAITH, which he directed until he joined the NIGHTINGALES.
DARRELL LUSTER is the fourth singer and soloist of the group. A native of Durham, Darrell is passionate about the SENSATIONAL NIGHTINGALES whose repertoire he loves singing. He first appeared with SPENCER TAYLOR of the remarkable HIGHWAY Q C's. Like his brother Richard, he was a member of the CHARLES JOHNSON'S REVIVERS from 1984 to 1993, singing and playing the guitar. Today, an old dream has come true and he has become a complete member of the SENSATIONAL NIGHTINGALES.
More recently, the SENSATIONAL NIGHTINGALES gave prestigious performances at the MADRID NATIONAL AUDITORIUM, at STEPHANSDOM in Vienna, and at the LINZ CATHEDRAL. Their last recording on the Malaco label, entitled "Songs To Edify" has been nominated for the award given to the best traditional gospel CD in 2003.
The SENSATIONAL NIGHTINGALES are one of the most beautiful and meaningful treasures of quartet singing and are acclaimed everywhere for their authenticity, their beautiful voices and rich harmonies.