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Gospel Ensemble A Group Of Guys To Reunite For Concert

Courtesy Photo
A group of guys known as A Group of Guys.

In the late 80s a trio known as A Group of Guys set Wichita’s gospel music scene ablaze with their contemporary sound. The young men traveled around the region singing at churches, colleges and festivals. Bernard Gray talks with KMUW’s Carla Eckels about their music and about singing at a reunion concert Sunday in Wichita.

Carla Eckels: Tell me, first of all, how did you come up with the name “A Group of Guys"?

Bernard Gray: To be honest with you, we didn’t come up with the name. I was asked to do a solo on a program at St. Matthew’s CME (Church) and I didn’t want to say no, even though I didn’t do solos. So myself, Keith and Mike had been getting together all the time anyway singing in the basement. So I said, "Well, I’ll just take the fellas with me."

We knew two songs, and on the program, the lady came and asked me "What do I call you guys?" because we didn’t have a name and so I said, "Call us 'a group of guys' until we get a name." From that, the program people asked us to sing every week, and before we knew it, we didn’t have time to really breathe. I mean, we were gone singing every Sunday, singing somewhere, and the name stuck."

Tell us about the original members of the group.

Myself, Mike Webber and Keith Martin were members of Ambassadors for Christ. Keith played the organ for the Ambassadors for Christ, and Mike and I sang both tenor. That group decided that they would move and relocate to Atlanta, and I tried to go and everything, I just couldn’t transfer my job. So Keith Martin, Mike Webber and I, we stayed here in Wichita and hence, A Group of Guys.

So, Bernard, you sing tenor. How did your voice fit in with the other men in the group?

That’s a great question because Keith always said that I have a lot of air in my voice and so when you put Mike below me, and Keith above me--he said, 'with the air in the middle'--it fattens up the harmony.

You talked about your own unique sound and I know that there’s always been a contemporary flair to your music. Give us an example.

Well, that's a funny story. We were out of town, and we only had so much time for a sound check, and so we picked one of our real kind of contemporary songs to do the sound check, and the older women’s choir were waiting to rehearse. And so when the band kicked in, and we went through about 30 seconds of the song, and then we quit, one of the old mothers said, “This ain’t no club!” I heard her, and so I went over and talked to her and said, “Mother, if you come back tonight to the concert, I promise you, I promise you, you’ll love it!"

Wow, did she?

She did. She came up to me afterwards, and we talked, and that’s because of the songs, the variety of songs.

So tell me about Saved A Wretch Like Me.

That is the hymn of the Baptist church, Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound. The way the lord gave it to Mike Webber was, you know, it had a little twist to it, and there’s always a twist when A Group of Guys is singing a song.

So why a reunion, and why now?

Well, the reunion was always based on the availability of Keith Martin. He’s the one that lives the furthest away. He lives in Macau, China, and now he’s moving to Vietnam, and so while he's in the States, he’s coming home, and so I got with the other guys and said, 'Hey, Keith will be in the States.' And Stephan Dailey is coming down from Omaha, Nebraska, we’ve got Avery Richardson, our bass player. He’s here from Chicago, Illinois, so this is a great time for us to do the reunion.

"Coming Again," that was one of the songs that I remember you would do quite often at the end of a concert.

"Coming Again" was a flip side of the 45 that has "God’s Got It." That’s how old we are. We recorded on 45s, but "Coming Again" was another song written by Mike Webber. It talked about the lord coming in as a thief in the night, and you just had to be always ready.

So what can people expect when the come to the reunion concert?

Just in the request alone, we have more than enough for a concert, and so we’re going to try to get them all in. So just expect a great time!

A Group of Guys will perform a reunion concert at the Tabernacle Bible Church, located at 1817 N. Volutsia, on Sunday, June 12, at 4 p.m.


Carla Eckels is assistant news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.