Reverend Milton Brunson

Reverend Milton Brunson

In 1948, the Reverend Milton Brunson organized a mass gospel choir at Chicago's McKinley High School; dubbed the Thompson Community Singers, the group — affectionately known as "the Tommies" — would emerge as the nation's oldest existing community choir, celebrating their golden anniversary with the release of 1998's hits collection 50 Blessed Years. In the interim Brunson and his singers became one of the most honored gospel groups of their era, issuing nine gospel chart-topping LPs (five claimed the #1 position) and winning a Grammy award in 1995. Their 50th anniversary was also celebrated with the opening of a post office named in Brunson's honor and the release of their album, 50 Blessed Years, with Brunson’s wife JoAnn at the helm. Brunson passed away just short of the choir’s fiftieth anniversary.

The current home of this world-renown choir is a humble brick church in Austin, a less than glamorous West Side neighborhood in the Chicago area. Gospel industry veterans and fans alike understand the importance and significance of this church. The Tommies have been around the world, participated in more gala events and awards ceremonies than you can count (and won awards at almost all of them) and makes their home in an underwhelming, no-gloss environment. That is the special nature of the "Tommies." They live in this crummy neighborhood, have families to support, kids to put through school, then when all's said and done they still have time to go out and sing the socks off of audiences world wide.

Biography by Jason Ankeny (All Music Guide), David Landsel, Jenny Rogers

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