Black gospel quartets can be traced back to plantation life in the South (According to Alan young in his book Woke Me Up This Morning, the first reference to black gospel quartets was made in 1851), the "modern" quartets were born in the late 1920s and early 1930s with the emergence of groups like the Heavenly Gospel Singers (1934) and most notably, The Golden Gate Quartet (influenced by the Mills Brothers) of Norfolk, Virginia -- Norfolk was often referred to as the "home of the quartet".

Within black gospel circles, the quartet format still thrives, with Ligon and Tucker, still at the helms of the Clouds and the Birds, respectively. The Best of from the Mighty Clouds of Joy, The Dixie Hummingbirds and the Five Blind Boys, doesn't simply compile a collection of gospel hits, but in some ways, helps to better document a tradition that is slowing disappearing from the general memory of the American public.

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