Oak Cliff has never run short on creativity, especially in the creative arts. A rich history that goes back almost 100 years and has produced some notable song writers, actors/actresses, artists, authors, publishers, musicians, and those who write poetry.
In 1924, V. O. Stamps founded a music company and entered into a partnership with J. R. Baxter, Jr. to become a leading publisher of gospel music. They eventually worked out of an office at 207 S. Tyler. Every summer, kids from across America came to Oak Cliff for a week or two of lessons in singing, writing, and playing gospel music. No telling how many were influenced and became well known, but all developed a passion for gospel music. One such little kid was Bill Gaither with a passion for listening to the gospel quartets of the day – many formed by the Stamps-Baxter Music Co. Gaither saved up his money to attend the school and never regretted the move. Although, Gaither became a school teacher, he always had a passion for gospel music. He married Gloria, and the two have written hundreds of songs that have won awards and have been sung by well known artists. He’s also responsible for bringing the greats in gospel together to form the Gaither Homecoming Series.
Glenn Payne started out working for the Stamps-Baxer Publishing Company and also sang in many of their quartets before becoming a member of the Cathederals. J. D. Sumner, a well-known bass singer, told a story of how some kid without money who admired the music of the Stamps Baxter Quartet always hung around the back stage door. J. D. would let him in to listen on the side of the stage. That kid was Elvis Presley. Elvis formed a relationship with the quartet later in life and they sang back-up on his records. Elvis also sang with the Blackwood Brothers and Jordanairs. J. D. says later it was he who stood at the backstage door without money, and Elvis would let him in.
In the early 1960’s, a group of kids from Adamson H. S. formed the Kingsmen Quartet. Tom McGown, B.J. Stevenson, Michael Martin Murphy and Hank Price would mostly sing where classmates gathered. They eventually went out on their own, but Stevenson, Murphy and Price each continued their lives that involved music in different areas from country to pop to opera, to writing and singing, to teaching at universities.
In the late 1960’s into the 70’s, kids from Kimball remember Stevie Ray Vaughn with his guitar singing blues along with his brother, Jimmy Vaughn. They each made a name for themselves in music.
Other greats include T-Bone Walker singing blues, and I know there are those who sing Jazz and Tejano we’re just not aware of yet.
You can read more about some of these people at www.oakcliff.com under notable natives.