The Fairfield Four
October 22, 1999
The CL7 were fortunate enough to be able to share some time with the FF4 before their concert on Friday. The FF4 were very gracious hosts, sharing stories and songs for an hour and half.
During their concert, Isaac Freeman, the musical director and bass of the FF4, told a little story about "these nice young men", and asked us up on stage to sing a song. Our own lead bass, Bob Rynkiewicz, was out of town on business, so Uncle Freeman stayed on stage to help us out.
The Fairfield Four are simultaneously one of the defining groups of the Black Gospel Quartet sound, and recent Grammy winners for current work. The group originally formed in 1921, and were taken to wide radio fame by Sam McCrary. McCrary hired two new fellows, James Hill and Isaac Freeman in the '40s. McCrary kept the Fairfield Four going, while Hill and Freeman formed the Skylarks in 1950, along with Wilson Waters, Willie Love, and Preacher Richardson. Both groups broke up in the 60s.
In 1980, Doug Seroff, a music historian, brought McCrary, Hill, Freeman, Richardson, and Waters together again, for a televised special. They stayed together, adding different singers as time went by, Robert Hamlett, Walter Settles, Joe Rice, and Nathan Best. They have put together three albums, and in 1997 "Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray" won the Grammy for the Best Traditional Gospel Album of the Year.
Today the group is made up of James Hill, Issac Freeman, Robert Hamlett, Wilson Waters, Joe Rice and Nathan Best.