Don Smith’s Gospel Favorites started in September 1947. Many say that it has to be the longest running Gospel Music program in the World! The person who said this should know; because he has been around a very long time himself, Les Beasley!
In the beginning the Gospelaire Quartet would come on KMJ radio LiVE! They gathered around a piano in the studio in downtown Fresno and sang, “Give the World A Smile Each Day”. This is the song that Don Smith the Originator of the Gospelaires had sung for many years with the other groups he had been a part of…”the Echols Singers who became Otis Echols and the Stamps Melody Boys Quartet, later the Blackwood Brothers Quartet.
For many years they had a live morning show at 6am the Dairymen said their cows gave better milk because of the good Gospel Music! These songs were in some books called Stamps Baxter Songbooks all written in a lost art called shaped notes. They also had “Singing Schools”. At their “Sings” and “Singing Schools they sold these books. The Stamps Baxter Singing Schools” they taught attendees the art of singing Shaped Notes. According to the records @ KMJ these early morning “Charming Melody” programs stopped in 1963.
The Song they sang on the Radio Programs were songs about the Love of God, they lifted peoples spirts and set the tone for the long hard day.
The Full Story
Don Smith first came to Fresno California after he had married and brought his young wife Peggy, to Shenandoah Iowa. Peggy having grown up in San Diego wasn’t excited about spending a second winter in Iowa. Don had been a part of the Legendary Blackwood Brothers when he and Peggy meet. It was during WWII that Don had moved to San Diego CA anxious about leaving the South and his first Gospel Quartet. Don had sung the bass starting at age 18. When the war broke out he came to San Diego CA after he had grown up in Lubbock TX and moved with Otis Echols Stamps Melody Boys Quartet to Eureka Springs AR.
After the winter in Iowa Don resigned from the position of the “first non-Blackwood, Blackwood Brother”! Back in San Diego Don received a call from his old singing buddy Bob Jones who also grew up in Texas where the Stamps Gospel Quartets and the Song Books were based. He had a group called the Harmony Boys and he needed a bass! They lived in Fresno, CA and this was a fabulous place where there was a large population originally from the South, already lovers of this Gospel Music that Don & Bob performed!
It is not known for sure how the radio program got started but the Stamps Gospel Quartets from Texas sang as many nights a week as they could book. They would sing out of the Stamps Baxter Song books that they sold after the Singing Conventions. They were popular in the South (USA) and the people in the Central Valley were thrilled to have a little bit of home in their new location. The latest media was radio and the quartets would wake early and go down to sing live on the radio. The Dairymen claimed their cows would give them better milk when they listened to the radio each morning!
In September the weekly radio program on KMJ was turned over to Don Smith because Bob Jones was offered a program on a Los Angeles station. That would require them to pack up again and move. Peggy was done moving and she actually didn’t move to a new city again! Don took over the programs and started a new group, The Gospelaires Quartet. This group became popular very quickly on the radio. It encluded Don Smith, and the Daniels Family, JC, Raymond, Wilber & Wilma.
Don also opened an Appliance Store on Kern Street called Gospel Music & Supply Co. where the Stamps Baxter Song Books and Bibles were sold.
At one time they were on KMJ Sundays and Weekdays and Saturdays in KBIF.
If you have any knowledge of the Gospelaires history and would like to write something to add to the history page please send to us via the Contact Us page which will be an email. Any pictures, etc.