LA085 Interview: James Payne (LA085Abbott_Side1)
Side 1 and 2: Interview with James Payne on 1983-02-16. Abstract for Payne: [00:00–30:40] James Payne discusses his time working at the American Sugar Refinery [in Arabi, Louisiana] where he met future members of The Four Great Wonders as well as quartet trainer, Gilbert Porterfield. He mentions some groups that inspired him including The Duncan Brothers, The Kings of Harmony, and The Tuskegee Singers – 1:30. Payne recalls that New Orleans groups were not very interested in singing until Porterfield arrived on the scene with his unique style and close harmony – 4:16. Payne describes Porterfield joining the group as lead singer and manager leading to the exit of former lead, Sam Gibson – 5:54. Abbott and Payne discuss the previous experience and background of the other members, Sammy Goldsmith and Willie Higgins – 6:57. Payne recalls how all the members worked in different departments at the refinery but would come together at lunch to sing. He shares that Porterfield had connections in Hattiesburg, MS and Bessemer, AL and would often take the group there to perform. They coordinated vacations so they could "tour" together – 9:43. Abbott and Payne spend several minutes talking about various other quartets and trainers that Payne had met while touring and performing in contests – 11:10. Payne mentions traveling through country towns north of New Orleans to perform but their jobs prohibiting them from going too far away – 17:34. Abbott and Payne briefly discuss the Quartet Association set up by Porterfield in New Orleans – 18:20. Payne then mentions that the group had a regular radio program on several different stations – 19:43. He describes contests and programs with other groups which took place at churches and schools. He remembers that these were very enjoyable events – 20:52. The conversation then shifts to a different quartet group, The Loving Four. Payne describes leaving The Four Great Wonders to tour with The Loving Four. They were very persuasive and offered a regular salary – 22:43. Payne states that after returning to New Orleans he started a new group, The Chosen Four, which used a guitar and tried to excite the crowd more so than other groups at the time – 27:36. They mention a group led by Jimmy Gale that also used instruments – 29:25. [00:00–20:11] On LA085Abbott_Side2, Abbott and Payne discuss several musicians who had been part of Payne's groups The Chosen Four, Soproco Singers, and The Chosen Five. Payne recalls the theme song of The Soproco Singers, Have You Any Time For Jesus which was taught to him by Porterfield when they were with The Four Great Wonders – 10:47. They discuss how common it was for singers to come and go and how rare it was to have a group stay together long-term – 15:02.