The Great Jay Berry

As I’ve continued to convert both mine and my dad’s SG LP collection to mp3, I stumbled across a Rebels album recently called The Angels Must Have Cried, on Skylite records.  Jay Berry is the lead singer for the Rebels on this album, and it reminded me of his prowess at the lead position.  Previously, about the only thing I’d heard from him was on the self titled Prophets album sometimes referred to as No Disappointments.

I did a classics review of that album as one of my earliest posts, and it’s a great album, due in large part to Berry’s lead voice.  His performance with the Prophets on “Worry Who I” is especially notable, and I compared his stylings to Mark Trammell.  Berry’s performances with the Rebels on this LP are no less solid.  Jay Berry had the range, power, and style to rank him among the genre’s best lead singers.  Maybe some of our resident historians can share some comments about Jay Berry and highlight some other notable performances for us…

About Wes Burke
I'm a .NET developer and Southern Gospel music fan. Married with a wonderful family.

11 Responses to The Great Jay Berry

  1. John Crenshaw says:

    Jay Berry was the original lead singer with the Prophets Quartet. He and Ed Hill were previously in a group called the Kings Men from St. Louis, Mo. The Kings Men performed on the main stage at the 1958 National Quartet Convention where they were very well received by the audience. To my knowledge, the Kings Men only recorded six songs.

    Jay and Ed moved to Knoxville, Tn. to form the Prophets in the late 1950s. Their first recording was a very rare album titled “The Gospel Songs” on the Coral label.

    Jay recorded three more albums with the Prophets prior to joining the Rebels Quartet in May of 1963. While with the Rebels, he recorded four albums.

    Jay left the Rebels (not sure when, probably early 1965) and rejoined the Prophets for a short time prior to leaving professional gospel music.

    I regret that I never had the opportunity to see Jay perform, but his recordings (especially his recordings with the Prophets) were exceptional.

    Several friends had the opportunity to meet Jay at the 2011 NQC, so he’s still alive and kickin’.

    • Wes Burke says:

      Thanks John! I’m going to have to go through the rest of my dad’s Prophets and Rebels LPs to see how many others I can find with Jay on them. He definitely had a fine lead voice!

  2. Dean Adkins says:

    I had the opportunity to meet Jay Berry at last year’s NQC. He was very cordial and somewhat surprised that people still remembered his stints with the Prophets & Rebels.

  3. Elmer Cole says:

    Jay Berry was the reason I wanted to be a lead singer.I tried(but failed) to copy every “lick” he did.My whole style of singing came from this man.Thanks Jay.
    Jay and Jake,you’ve said it all

    • Wes Burke says:

      Thank you for your comments Mr. Cole! You are quite the lead singer yourself, I’ve got several albums with Willie Wynn and the Tennesseans with you on them, and I enjoy listening to them. Did you once sing with a group called The Hymnals, or something similar?

  4. Joe Mannon says:

    I got to hear Jay Berry sing several times while he was with the Prophets Quartet, and many more times after he moved to the Rebels Quartet. I loved both groups, and Jay arguably moved the Rebels up a couple of notches when he joined them. I don’t think he took a back seat to anyone, and as Mr Cole said, “Jay and Jake, you’ve said it all.”

    I have most of the Prophets and Rebels albums that Jay recorded with them, buying the ones during the time I saw them, plus CD’s of a couple earlier recordings that some gracious friends made for me.

    Thanks, Wes! You said it all when you titled this, “The Great Jay Berry”!

  5. Joe Mannon says:

    Wes…just wondering if you got the chance to hear more of Jay Berry, since your blog in late 2011? He remains my favorite lead singer, and I never get tired of listening to him on the Prophets and Rebels albums I have.

    • Wes Burke says:

      I have at least one additional Rebels album with him on it. Such a great stylist! It’s sad to me that so many great talents in SG history are all but forgotten.

  6. Herb McCarty says:

    I worked with Jay Berry in the Insurance business in 1991 & 1992. Great guy. We sang together in his car several times. Great voice.

  7. Joe Mannon says:

    It’s always great to hear comments about Jay Berry. I agree with you, Wes, when you say that it is sad that so many great talents are all but forgotten. I am also sad that there doesn’t appear to be any videos of Jay when he was performing for the Prophets and Rebels Quartets. Jay will be celebrating a birthday in a few weeks, on June 4th.

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