Paschall Brothers: Page 4
Rev. Paschall, Sr., the founding father of the Paschalls, knew four-part harmony well from his own singing experiences. Born in 1923 in Henderson, North Carolina, Rev. Paschall had already performed with quartets when he moved to Tidewater Virginia in 1942 at the age of 19. Though many young singers were serving in World War II at the time, the local quartet scene was thriving in the early 1940s. A number of older quartets were still performing, the Golden Gate Quartet was riding a wave of national popularity, and the a cappella quartet format continued to be a strong force in male gospel singing even as religious groups were adding guitars and additional voices. Rev. Paschall sang in several Tidewater quartets in the following years, including the Singing Somocs and the Keys of Harmony. In 1953 his Gospel Vocalaires recorded “I’ll be Satisfied” and “Call Me Anytime,” which were released on the Gotham label.
Singing lead and training his sons, Rev. Paschall, Sr. formed the Paschalls in 1981. When Rev. Paschall, Sr. passed away in 1999, the lead vocal work shifted primarily to Tarrence Paschall, but as in many quartets the vocal parts are traded among the members for different songs. Billy Paschall primarily sings bass, often in the “pumping” style used by numerous Tidewater quartets. Frank Paschall, Jr., and Johnny Lewis trade off on tenor and baritone. Renard Freeman, Tarrence’s brother-in-law, brings to the Paschalls a smooth tenor voice reminiscent of the great Sam Cooke.
As reflected in their repertoire, the Paschalls take decades of gospel styles and songs and add their own distinct arrangements to them. Rev. Frank Paschall taught many of the older quartet numbers to his sons. Variations of “You Better Run,” “Jonah,” and “Get on Board” were recorded by groups such as Norfolk’s famous Golden Gate Quartet and the Norfolk Jubilee Quartet a half century before the Paschalls formed. The Paschall’s version of “Jezebel” is a reworked version of a performance Rev. Paschall recorded with the Gospel Vocalaires in 1953. The sweet sound of the Soul Stirrers comes forth in “Mean Old World.” “Final Edition” is based on a number by the Dixie Hummingbirds. “Rugged Cross” is an old sacred standard. Over the years members of the Paschall family have also written their won songs, including “Song for Jesus” and “Church Folk.”
With their energy, superb vocals, and dynamic adaptations of songs from various sources, the Paschalls are sure to enjoy an ever-growing audience. They are an inspiring musical beacon, taking Tidewater Virginia’s quartet artistry to new generations.
Vaughan Webb -Blue Ridge Institute