The Pilgrim Jubilees celebrated 47 years for singing with the group's 1997 multi-Stellar-nominated album " Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around". Members of the legendary gospel harmony quartet have every reason to rest on their laurels. But they say the Lord did the hiring…and He'll have to do the retiring. Delivering gospel music with a driving beat, The Jubes have released seven hit albums on Malaco Records, which became their musical home a dozen years ago.
The group's beginning was in 1934, in Houston, Mississippi, when Elgie Graham and Willie Johnson formed a gospel duet. A dozen years later, in 1946, the group added new members (brother) Theophilles Graham, Monroe Hatchett and Leonard Brownlee- and the early Pilgrim Jubilees were born. This group flourished until about 1950, when the Grahams moved away to Chicago. But Elgie Graham soon revived and reorganized the group, signing on Major Roberson, Kenneth Madden and his brothers, Cleve and Clay Graham, as members.
In 1955 Elgie retired from the group, but he encouraged the other members to continue singing God's praises. Other than the 1960s departure of Kenneth Madden, and the 1970 arrival of Ben Chandler, the core group remains the same now. In addition to the four core vocalists - Major, Cleve, Clay and Ben- the Pilgrim Jubilees today include musicians' bobby McDougal (a member since the late 1960's), Michael Atkins (since the early '70s), cousin Eddie Graham (since the early 1990's) and Fred Rice (since 1995).
The early Jubes released their first recording in 1952 on the Nashboro label, receiving a fair amount of recognition. After many prayers and meditations, Major Roberson and Rufus Crume composed the gospel song Stretch Out. While singing on a program in the late 1950s in Atlanta, Ga., The Jubes were noticed by Dave Clark, who represented Peacock-Songbird Records. Clark persuaded Peacock to sign them and, with the release of Stretch Out, the group received national recognition-as well as a gold record!
In 1979, The Jubes signed on with gospel's venerable Savoy Records. During that era, the group recorded four albums, Keep on Climbing, Put on Your Shoes, Whensoever I Pray and Put Your Trust In Jesus. The Jubes soon became one of gospel's top quartets. From these albums came such hit songs as Rich Man, Poor Man; I'm Happy With Jesus Alone; Whensoever I Pray; Put Your Trust In Jesus; and I'm Glad You Looked My Way. In 1987, the group signed with Malaco in 1991 and released Gospel Roots, which immediately hit the Top 40 of Billboard magazine's Gospel Albums Chart. Their second Malaco project, 1988's Back to Basics, reached the top 25 on Billboard's chart.
Family Affair, released on Malaco in 1991, hit the top 20 in both on Billboard and Cashbox and was nominated for gospel's coveted Stellar Award. I'm Getting Better All the Time earned extensive nationwide airplay in 1991 and became a favorite of gospel fans. In 1994, The Jubes released In Revival, a greatest hits album which was recorded live in their hometown of Houston, Mississippi. The charted disc became one of the top-selling gospel albums of any era.
The Jubes have performed in concert on the world's greatest stages, from Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center to New York's Apollo Theatre and from The Astrodome in Texas to Disneyland in California. They are a regular at major music festivals, from the Bahamas to New Orleans' Jazz & Heritage Festival.