That was our ‘motto’ that we adopted when we formed the Pioneers back in 2001. We went to reach those who were lost, both those who were not saved, and those who had become lost from their walk with the Lord. It also meant that we were pioneers into starting a ministry that was totally new and unknown to us, but with the Lord’s help and our faith in Him, we’d have places to sing and help spread His message.
The Pioneers roots started in 1993, when two of the members, Chris Griffith and Michael Whitaker, met through a newspaper ad that Chris had put out, looking to start a quartet. While no quartet started from the initial attempt, me and Chris formed a friendship that has stayed close through the years, and would eventually get us together into a singing ministry. Chris became part of another quartet, and eventually they took on a new lead singer, Daniel Wade. They began work on a new CD, and by the end of 1999, were ready to release the CD, when the tenor singer for the group decided that he could not make the long trip every week to practice. They were looking for a new tenor singer, and by then I was not singing with anyone and was ready to join a group.
In January of 2000, I joined Chris and Daniel in the quartet, and for over a year, we traveled many miles with the bass singer, who also was the manager/owner of the group. In the spring of 2001, he expressed interest in coming off the road more, and wanted to find a bass singer to travel with the group. That’s when Hurley Spinks came into the picture. We met through a mutual friend of ours, and the first time he came to sing with us, it was an instant fit. We knew we had a good sound, and it became better the more we traveled and sang. By the end of 2001, the far miles we were traveling were wearing us all down, and we knew that we could find plenty of places to sing closer to home. After much prayer, talking, prayer, consulting with families, and even more prayer, we decided to form our own group, and the Pioneers Quartet was born.
It was not an easy start by any means. We had no money, no equipment, no music, and just a couple of places lined up to go. Chris made a faithful decision to get a loan that would get us equipment and pay for a recording that we had to start over as the new group. It was a leap of faith to not only seek bookings, but to earn enough money to keep us from having to pay the loan out of our own pockets. Our first recording came out in early 2002, and armed with demos, we made a lot of calls and a lot of ‘demo drops’ and got a few calls. The Lord knows how to work things better than we can, though. By the summer of 2002, we would not have to call out for bookings any longer, as we would do over 100 dates a year for the next three years. We still traveled to sing, but found many places near home that loved to hear good Southern Gospel music. We got to sing in many different places, meet wonderful people, and even opened and shared billing with several major groups, but more than that, we did what we loved, and our friendship and faith kept our ministry strong.
By 2006, the Pioneers ministry came to a close. Job situations changed for most of us, our children started to grow up, and our personal lives began to affect how much we could travel. We were helped for the last year by Jamie Farmer, who sang with us several times over the last year, to fill in as needed, and then in a permanent role over the last few months that we traveled. We are certainly grateful for the time he put in with the group. We were and are blessed for what the Lord did for us during our ministry. Three great recordings, and no one had to go into debt to pay for them, even though I think Chris’ Jeep ultimately gave itself for all the miles it pulled our trailer! I hope that you enjoy the music here, and please leave comments on what you think, and if you have any memories of the group or pictures, please share them. Thank you to Larry for putting together a wonderful site to share what the Lord has done for so many though great music, and for those who were part of making it!