WILLIE ROGERS

With a voice that evokes the soulful crooning of Sam Cooke and Johnnie Taylor, Willie Rogers is the last of a long legacy of lead singers for the Soul Stirrers.

Rogers was born in Norfolk, Virginia, on February 3, 1938. His father was a member of Norfolk’s Floodgates Quartet, a group that had a 15-minute radio broadcast every Sunday. One Sunday, seven-year-old Willie was invited to sing with the Floodgates on the broadcast. “The phone lit up,” Rogers remembered. “People called in from everywhere wanting to know who was this little boy singing.” Thereafter, Rogers traveled throughout Virginia singing with the Floodgates and participating in the gospel programs the quartet organized in Norfolk. He had a chance to sing alongside many of the era’s most respected quartets, such as the Soul Stirrers, whose lead singer, Sam Cooke, was an inspiration to the young Rogers.

Around 1957 or 1958, Spencer Taylor and the Highway QCs participated in a Norfolk gospel program with the Floodgates. Impressed with Rogers’ singing, the QCs invited him to join their group. Rogers eagerly accepted—while the Floodgates were regionally popular, the QCs were nationally recognized recording artists. Like an apprentice, Rogers learned the craft of professional singing while traveling with the QCs.

Drafted into the army in 1962, Rogers served his country while winning army singing contests. By the time of his 1964 discharge, Rogers felt he had outgrown the QCs so he returned to Norfolk to consider his next move. It was not long before J.J. Farley of the Soul Stirrers invited Rogers to replace Johnnie Taylor, who had left the Stirrers to pursue a solo career in R&B. Rogers joined the Stirrers around 1965 and recorded for the first time with the group that same year, leading I Know I’ll Be Free.

In the early 1970s, Rogers tried his hand as a soul music vocalist. Despite the fact that some of his records on Ronn, a subsidiary of Jewel Records, were produced and arranged by the legendary Johnny Pate, Rogers never saw his pop career take off. “I didn’t have the feeling for it,” he admitted. Rogers returned to his gospel roots by rejoining the Soul Stirrers, where he and Martin Jacox traded lead vocal responsibilities with the same electricity that marked Paul Foster and Sam Cooke’s exchanges with the Stirrers in the early 1950s.

Rogers has spent the rest of his career with the Soul Stirrers. He was present when the quartet was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. The 1980s also saw Rogers and the Stirrers perform in The Gospel at Colonus, a musical reworking of Oedipus at Colonus. He is also performing in the Henry Farag production of "The Signal".

Willie Rogers and the Soul Stirrers continue to perform, albeit with new personnel. The Soul Stirrers Reunion for Malaco (2008) teamed Rogers with Stirrers alumni Arthur and LeRoy Crume, Eddie Huffman and the Reverend Luther Gamble. Rogers joined some of his contemporaries for the 2015 Malaco CD and DVD, An Evening with the Legends of Quartet Live. A highlight of the presentation was Rogers’ duet with Spencer Taylor on the perennial gospel favorite, When the Gates Swing Open.

BENJAMIN  A.  ODOM

At the ripe old age of 4, Benjamin had his first encounter with the Soul Stirrers. He was blessed to be brought up in a musical family. Benjamin along with his mother {Delila, who played piano} and his 3 older sisters {Theresa, Gloria and Rose} made up The Odom Singers. On several occasions, they were the opening act for many of the professional acts that came through the Albany, New York area. Shows by acts such as The Davis sisters, The Roberta Martin Singers and the Soul Stirrers were commonplace.  It was meant to be that 13 years later, The Soul Stirrers would be needing a bass player when they came to town and the rest, as they say, is history!!

 Benjamin was blessed with the ability to play several instruments which he attributes only to God and his mother {who forced him to take piano lessons}. Little did she know that he never really learned to read. The Lord had blessed him with the ability to mimic just about anything he heard so he even fooled the music teachers. { He doesn't recommend this to any of you young people out there!!} He also attributes his calm demeanor to his father who was the definition of the 'strong ,silent type". He didn't say much but when he spoke people listened!

 Throughout his years as a member of the group, he has been afforded the opportunity to play alongside such artists as Stevie Wonder, Lou Rawles, Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Sinead O'Connor, Natalie Merchant, Rita Coolidge, Boz Skaggs, Billy Preston, The Band, Eddie Levert, Umphrees Magee, Della Reece, Betty Wright, Paul Schaffer, Taj Mahal, Rev. James Cleveland, Preservation Hall Jazz Band  and many others. He also accompanies The Blind Boys of Alabama on some of their dates! He has taken part in the Lee Breuer production of "La Davina" at Mabou Mines.

Some of the people that influenced him early on were Donny Hathaway, Earth Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, The Hebrew Boys, Take 6 and Professor Rudolph Stinney, a longtime friend from Albany.

Of course ,his influences in life were his parents, Ben Jr. and Delila.

 "My sisters and I often comment on how we never ever heard them raise their voices to one another over their more than four decades of marriage! They raised them at us a plenty, but never around us to each other! What they have instilled in us, God rest their souls,  we take pride in sharing that with others! We are so blessed!", he states.

Benjamin is  a very staunch  proponent for education of our youth! With him, education always comes first!! When he is not travelling the road,

he is a teaching assistant for several school districts in Upstate New York. He truly values his blessing in being able to share whatever wealth of knowledge  given to him by his parents and countless mentors throughout his life! Not only does he teach book knowledge but he strives to impart life skills!!

Over the years, Benjamin has gone from being the bass player to being the manager of the group. He is truly thankful for the blessing of being put with such knowledgeable and downright good men all those many years ago!His thoughts will continue to focus on making sure that the legacy and reputation the Soul Stirrers has cultivated will always be forefront and the group will continue to make a difference in the world , spiritually, musically and historically!! 


EUGENE STEWART

We call him Mr. Smoothy, and yet you haven’t heard all the talents this man has to offer. Gene joined the group in the early 2000's and has flourished in his role as backup lead singer to Willie Rogers. And when given the opportunity, he has stepped in with outstanding reviews!

Born in the Buckeye State in Columbus, Ohio and now living in the Chicago suburbs, he’s the President/CEO and founder of his own label called:

“BFG (Bound For Glory)Records”. Also, an ASCAP and AFTRA member and music publisher. Gene has years of experience as a performer, and has always been sort of called, the voice behind the scene. Now the years of experience and patience has finally paid off, and we can enjoy his beautiful rich talented silky, smooth voice.

Gene is  also the brother of rock super star, Arista Records recording artist, the late Jermaine Stewart.

Gene Stewart has performed at concert halls, nightclubs, fairs, and special events all across the lands. He appeared on radio and television shows such as The Chicago Talent Showcase(Tv Program), Saturday-Nite Sing (Gospel Tv Program),  Let’s Talk About Music (Tv Program). The Taste Entertainment Center (Nightclub),  Appeared at The Singletary Center for

the Arts in Lexington, Kentucky with legendary gospel

artist “Dr. Bobby Jones” and appeared at the Rupp Arena concert stage in Lexington, Kentucky with:“ Oleta Adams & Michael Bolton”.

. He has sung, acted and performed at the Apollo Theatre in

New York City on Lee Breuer & Bob Telson’s hit play "The Gospel at Colonus".

He also performed in the stage  play written and produced and directed by Lee Breuer called, “La Divina”. He is also performing in the Henry Farag production of "The Signal".

.He has performed on stage with The Soul Stirrers on The Ultimate Doo-Wop Show at the Chicago Theatre , the Fox Theatre in Altanta, Georgia, in Detroit, Michigan, at the Holiday Star Plaza in Merrillville, Indiana, at the Beacon Theatre in New York and Seattle, Washington.

He sang backup for Sinead O’Connor at the Lincoln Center  in New York City.

He honors idols like: Gene Barge, the late Sam Cooke, Mr. Bobby Womack, Willie Rogers, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Barry White- Earth, Wind & Fire, The Temptations and all the leaders & bands of the Big Band Era.

All of these artists have given him the golden edge of encouragement in his life and with that encouragement, he was able to express himself with his own God given talents.

Many of Gene’s fans, including a number of disc jockeys around the cities and states, are deeply inspired by his vocal talents and versatile style.

"Somehow I’m able to communicate with others through my own life experiences, which I sing in my songs." he says: Gene hopes to land a hit and be able to spread his message around the world.

“It’s Been A Long Time Coming, But I Know….

A Change Is Gonna Come”

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Michael Grady Jr.


Michael Jr. was introduced to music at the early age of 5 years old. He loved mimicking his father, Michael Grady Sr. as he played the guitar. He was interested in music and was very observant. His father  played in a group called the Gospel Comforters along with his grandfather, George Grady, and uncle, Anthony Grady, His father, grandfather and uncle were  great influences in his life.

He was blessed to be surrounded by very talented men in his life. His father and grandfather played the guitar and his uncle played the bass guitar. He's been  interested in music for as long as he can remember.

He was a member of Faith At Work COGIC at the age of 7, His great grandma ( Ethel Grandberry) was Pastor.He would sit and observe his cousin playing the drums during church services on Sundays. He developed a strong passion for  the drums. One Sunday while his cousin was away from the drums, a soloist started to sing. He got on the drums and started to play. Everyone was astonished at how well he played. It was from that point that his blessing  was made known and the story continues!

Groups and people Michael Jr.  has played with are Faith at Work, Gospel Hurricanes, Otis Clay, Staples Singers

Soul Stirrers of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

He has also recorded on  with the Traveling Angels, famous blues singer Shirley Johnson and with the Gospel Hurricanes.

As a member of the Soul Stirrers for over 20 years, he has traveled all over the United States, Canada, Italy, Belgium and Holland . 

"I am grateful and thankful for the many blessings that God has poured upon me throughout my music career and allowing me to be a mentor to others. For that I give God all the praise & honor, for the rest of my life."

MICHAEL GRADY Sr.

 Born into a musical family, at the age of 5, Michael began singing with Bishop Luis Ford’s Sunshine Choir. His love for all aspects of music grew from there. His love for playing instruments also grew during this time. He began playing drums, then bass, and guitar to name a few. At the age of 8, he began traveling with the Southern Jubilees. Shortly after this, he toured with the Gospel Comforters. In his teen years, he played for the Staple Singers. This afforded him the opportunity to work with and play for many prominent gospel and R&B artists, such as Willie Neil Johnson and the Gospel Keynotes, the Canton Spirituals, the Drifters, Otis Clay, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Tom Petty, as well as to travel both nationally and internationally. Michael has had the privilege to travel throughout the United States as well as to Zimbabwe, Botswana, England, Japan, Italy, Canada, Mexico, and China. During this time, he fine tuned his grasp of the business. In 1988, he joined the Soul Stirrers. He has performed in several plays including Gospel at Colonus. As a member of the Soul Stirrers, he has performed on the Stellar Awards, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000. Michael is an active member of his church and enjoys encouraging young people and mentoring up-and-coming musicians.