TITLE: The Zionaires
SPEAKER: The Zionaires
EVENT DATE: 07/24/2008
RUNNING TIME: 61 minutes
The Zionaires perform gospel music from Maryland and Delaware, another in the Homegrown Concert Series sponsored by the American Folklife Center.
Speaker Biography: The Zionaires gospel group, who hail from the Delmarva Peninsula, celebrated their 54th singing anniversary on February 17, 2008. For more than half a century, they have spread the word of God through music to church and radio audiences on the lower shore of Maryland, Virginia and Delaware. They attribute their remarkable survival to the words of King David: "I will sing praises unto God while I have any being" [Psalm 146:2]. In 1954, Dennis Brady, Marion Joynes, Hilton Johnson and Edward Davis, four young men active in Mt. Hope AME Zion Church, formed the quartet. There have been so many lineup changes over the years that there are more than 40 former members and musicians who have spent time in the group. Since the lead-up to their golden anniversary, the Zionaires have experienced a surge of interest in their singing, both locally and nationally. In 2003, they headlined the Quarterly Gospel Festival in Wilmington, which is the largest gospel event in Delaware. They also performed a high-profile concert at the Metropolitan AME Church in New York City, where Bobby Jones, host of Black Entertainment Television's flagship Sunday program, Bobby Jones Gospel, introduced them. In 2004, The Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation included the Zionaires on their award-winning CD set "From Bridge to Boardwalk: An Audio Journey Across Maryland's Eastern Shore." Also in 2004, they performed in the Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert, part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, an international exposition of living cultural heritage which is produced annually, outdoors, on the National Mall of the United States in Washington, D.C.