Philly Gospel Group Honored With Historical Marker

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A long overdue honor was bestowed this week on the world-renown gospel group, the Dixie Hummingbirds.

A state historic marker was placed at the North Philadelphia home of the group’s founder, James Davis.

Despite the “Dixie” in their name, they spent most of their career in Philadelphia.

James Davis started the group in South Carolina, but all five members moved to Philadelphia in the early 40’s. The ‘Birds endured for sixty more years.

Reverend Joe Williams replaced Davis when he retired in 1984. He’s one of only two surviving members. Guitarist Howard Carroll was too ill to attend the ceremony.

“I always wondered, why did they choose me to replace Mr. James B. Davis?” said Williams. “I think it was because of this day. Because I’m the only one standing who could come and talk.”

img 0213 Philly Gospel Group Honored With Historical Marker

Reverend Joe Williams (middle) next to Mayor Jim Kenney. (credit: Pat Loeb)

Williams worked for ten years to get this recognition for the group, whose big hit, “Love Me Like A Rock” won a 1973 Grammy.

“This marker will be here when everybody’s gone,” Williams said.

State Historic Commission Chair Nancy Moses says it was well-earned.

“Their music reaches across time and cultures and enters in to the human heart,” she said.

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