Since 1968, The Messengers have graced the world of Gospel music with their signature sound: smooth traditional gospel harmonies with a touch of R&B flavor.
The group’s founder, Willie Banks, began as many gospel artists do, by singing in the church. At the tender age of 5, Willie sang with his mother, Mrs. Vinnie Christian-Banks, during church services and the rest is history! After he decided to sing professionally, he performed with the following gospel groups: The Flying Clouds, The S.C. Violinaires, The Trumpets of Joy, Sister Edna Gallmon Cook, and The Jackson Southernaires. It wasn’t until 1968 that he decided to head up his own group, which he called Willie Banks and The Southernaires. This group signed with the Peacock-Songbird label and released Heaven Must Be a Beautiful Place, as their debut album.
In 1972, Willie put together the ingredients for a successful new group, Willie Banks and The Messengers. They first signed with HSE Records of Nashville and released four albums under this contract, God’s Goodness, For The Wrong I’ve Done, Mother Why, and Still In Charge. In 1979, they received a Grammy Nomination for Traditional Male Group of the Year, and each of their albums became a mainstay on the Billboard Magazine Top Forty Chart for spiritual music.
After many years on the road, Willie Banks began to look forward to the day that he could put an end to touring and remain at home with his family, but God had other plans. He survived a near fatal accident during one of his tours and made a vow to the Lord that he would live out his days singing God’s praises as long as he was able to. He signed a record deal with Malaco Records in 1988 and released Just Look at the Blessings, followed by Masterpiece two years later, and The Legend Lives On in 1992. Each of these albums received extensive air-play in every radio market nationwide and though Willie Banks passed away on February 1, 1993, the rest of the group remains intact and continues Willie’s mission to sing praises to God, as it is written in the scriptures, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not God’s word.” They will tell you that they live, not by dwelling on those things which are past, but by pressing forward toward the prize of eternal life, which gift is made available through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.
Since the passing of Willie Banks, The Messengers continue to record with Malaco Records, and have released gospel favorites such as Pressing Toward The Mark and Angels. Their latest release, entitled Special Delivery, is the first live recording they have made since they last taped with Willie. Recorded at the St. Andrews Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi, during the annual Jubilee Jam Festival in 1999, the project contains twelve cuts which include, “Help Me To Stand,” “Thank You Lord,” and “Never Stop Praising His Name.”
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