The Williams Brothers celebrate 50th year

Williams Brothers at Meet and Greet

By Janice Taylor-Ellis
JA Contributing Writer

Many fans and supporters stopped by Blackberry Records and Terminal Recording Studio in support of The Williams Brothers 50th Anniversary CD Release and Open House, held Tuesday, October 26, at their Ridgeland location.  Fans in attendance were able to meet and greet The Williams Brothers and tour both Blackberry Records and Terminal Recording Studios.  Geilia Taylor, who volunteered for the event, shared how impressed she was with The Williams Brothers as a whole. Geilia stated, “These guys are the most friendly and down to earth people you will ever meet.  You just don’t expect that.  So many world renown people have way too many airs about themselves.  The Williams Brothers are personable.”

Few gospel groups can equal the Williams Brothers in terms of longevity and popularity. The trio dates back to 1960, when Doug and Melvin’s father, the late Leon “Pop” Williams founded the group. In April 1991, Melvin, Henry and Doug decided to merge musical talent with industry expertise to form their own label dedicated to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ through anointed music. As a result, Blackberry Records was born.

Blackberry Records’ first release, “This Is Your Night,” received a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Soul Gospel Album and won two Stellar Awards. Since that time, the Brothers have earned a gold record for the WOW Gospel project that included their performance with Stevie Wonder, and have performed in some of the nation’s most prestigious concert halls, including: Madison Square Garden, The Apollo Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, The Grand Old Opry, The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and The House of Blues.

In addition, they have shared the stage with talented artists such as: Stevie Wonder, Juanita Bynum, Jars of Clay, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Denise Williams, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Vickie Winans, Luther Vandross, Philip Bailey, Fred Hammond, the Mississippi Mass Choir, Maurice White, Andrae Crouch, Bebe & Cece Winans, Shirley Caesar, James Cleveland, Al Green, Kool and the Gang, Patti LaBelle, Sound of Blackness, Amy Grant, Steve Winwood, Peabo Bryson, Chaka Khan, James Taylor and many more. They have performed for the Governor of the State of Mississippi on several occasions, and were headliners in the “Celebrating a 50 Year Grammy Legacy” event, hosted by Governor Barbour.  Recently, they shared their talents during the 65th Annual State Convention of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP’s Memorial Service & Community Mass Meeting held at Greater Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.

Their 50th Year Anniversary CD Release Gala held Friday, October 29, 2010, at 7:00 p.m. at Old Capitol Inn, culminated the celebration. The speaker for this very special event was Pastor Donald Battle of Divine Faith Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia, with musical guests that included Stan Jones, Rhonda Chambers and The Jackson Southernaires.  The Williams Brothers 91 year old mother, Mom Amanda Williams, attended the event as did their sisters, Deliana, Marie and Marilyn, who along with brother, Huey Williams, shared their memories of life with Doug, Melvin and Henry. Felecia Bell-Williams, Doug’s wife, spearheaded this great celebration and did so of course out of her love for her husband and in celebration of the many years The Williams Brothers have been together.  She recognizes that this really is an unusual occurrence and wanted to celebrate it with family, friends, and the fans, without whose support, the celebration would not have been possible.

When asked what did he think contributed to the success and longevity of The Williams Brothers, Doug shared, “A lot of prayer, faith, trusting in God, believing in each other, patience, remaining humble, keeping our ears to the ground, and paying attention to what the fans like and want.  We try to write and sing songs that are relevant to people’s lives and songs that they can relate to.  Last, but not least, keeping up with what is happening musically in the industry, so our music and sound can remain fresh.”  Melvin furthered shared that he attributed it to the fact that Mom and Pop Williams brought them up in church and kept them grounded.  “It’s family upbringing,” Melvin state.  “They taught us to love each other.”  Melvin also feels that their songs must touch the heart and soul and give listeners the hope and faith that with God they can make it.

The Williams Brothers dare to be different with each step of faith and a belief in themselves through their faith and trust in God.  They have generation after generation of faithful fans who have been with them since the beginning.  In the words of one of their songs, “Still Holding On” they share, “I’m glad we don’t look like what we’ve been through, we’re still holding on.”  The 50th Year Anniversary CD is now available in stores everywhere and has made Billboard Charts.