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One of gospel music's greatest innovators, the Golden Gate Quartet formed in Norfolk, Virginia in 1934. The group's jubilee style is renowned for its unusual and intricate harmony singing, swinging rhythms and open-ended song structures. Its most influential lineup included founding members Willie Johnson on baritone and Henry Owens on tenor, along with tenor William Langford and bass vocalist Orlandus Wilson. The Golden Gate Quartet became hugely popular, appearing on southern radio stations, and in 1938 they performed at John Hammond's influential "From Spirituals to Swing" concert at Carnegie Hall. Their powerful spirituals - including "Way Down in Egypt Land," "Lord Am I Born to Die" and "Blind Barnabus" -- featured the spectacular quartet style that Willie Johnson once called "vocal percussion."

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