The Lane Chapel Male Quintet is based out of Tupelo and performs a wide variety of music, ranging from spirituals to modern R&B. As its name implies, the group sings in five-part harmony. They use an acoustic guitar as accompaniment on some of their songs.
Charles Raymond Richardson, who led the group until his death in July 2001, founded the group in 1976. Richardson was a member of the Varsity Chorus at Tupelo High School, from which he graduated in 1971, and while attending Rust College, was a member of the Rust College A Capella Choir and the Male Quintet and Sextet, and Mixed Ensemble. He was later the choir director of the Lane Chapel CME Church, from which the Quintet derived its name. The group does not, however, maintain a formal relationship to the church.
Prior to the founding of the Quintet, Richardson and fellow founding members William Gary and Melvin Smith performed in a secular quintet, A Touch of Harmony. A year later the current leader of the group, Rob Barnes, joined the group, replacing Ronnie Eggerson. Barnes’ father, who performed gospel, and Richardson’s father were brothers.
Barnes says that the group has no specific influences, but he notes that they are inspired by a number of different gospel groups, including the Spiritual QCs, the Golden Wings, and the Wynans. They are also influenced by R&B vocal groups including the Rance Allen Group, the Persuasions, and the Temptations. The group performs religious music as the Lane Chapel Male Quintet and continues to use the name A Touch of Harmony when they perform secular music. According to Barnes, Richardson was a “natural” in terms of creating arrangements, while Barnes has consciously studied music theory in order to create the group’s current arrangements.
The current group features Wayne Hereford (guitarist, lead, and baritone), Greg Henderson (first tenor), Lonnie James (bass, original member of group), and E.C. Foster (bass and lead). There are also several reserve members, including Anthony Lackey (first tenor, second tenor, and lead). Henderson sings lead, first tenor, second tenor, and as the “repeat” singer, which involves filling in on different parts to maintain harmony when another member is singing lead.
The group performs at a variety of venues, including churches, political events, festivals, Christmas programs, and parties. Highlights of the group’s career include performing at the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans, on the Bobby Jones Gospel Hour television show in Nashville, and various regional festivals. They have toured across the South, Midwest, and East Coast, and have opened for acts including BeBe and CeCe Wynans, the Mississippi Mass Choir, and the Williams Brothers.
The group has recorded two CDs, World Peace from 2002 and Christmas in My Hometown from 2003 and will be releasing another in 2006.