Thursday, September 01, 2011
a great singer." "She's a gifted songwriter." Or the occasional,
"He's a talented singer AND songwriter." Most Gospel music
personalities can be categorized into just one or two areas of talent or
expertise but not Dr. Jerry Goff. He has been called a talented preacher,
teacher, singer, songwriter, musician, emcee, and businessman, just to name a
few. It's difficult to imagine Gospel music without the contributions of this
truly gifted gentleman. Here is his story.
Born May 1, 1935.
in Greenwood, South Carolina, Jerry was the firstborn son of F.W. and Syble
Goff. When Jerry was but a youngster, his father attended a tent revival along
the side of a road. At that revival, F.W. first heard the gospel, and
immediately gave his heart and life to Jesus Christ. Soon after his salvation
experience, F.W. felt the calling of God to become a preacher. An uneducated cotton mill worker, F.W.
felt he needed to earn proper qualifications if he was to fulfill his calling.
He subsequently graduated from the Church of God Bible Training School in
Sevierville, Tennessee, which later became Lee College in Cleveland, Tennessee.
Following F.W.'s graduation, the Goffs loaded all their belongings into a one-wheel
trailer and headed for Salem, Oregon, where F.W. had accepted a pastoral
position at a small church. Throughout his childhood, Jerry's father pastored
several churches on the West Coast.
The Goffs carried
with them a love for Southern convention-style singing, which quickly caught on
in the Northwest. Each year, F.W. would bring singing school teachers from the
South to Oregon to teach his congregation how to sing convention music.
When Jerry was in
high school, his father took a trip south to attend a convention. F.W. returned
to Salem with a 78-rpm recording of The LeFevres with Big Jim Waits. This was
Jerry's first exposure to professional Southern Gospel music—and he was hooked!
Then, at the age
of sixteen, Jerry made a trip to South Carolina to visit some relatives. While
there, Jerry and his family drove to Augusta, Georgia, to see J.D. Sumner and
The Sunshine Boys in concert. Jerry fell in love with the low bass, high tenor,
and smooth blend of the quartet.
from Yakima Senior High School in 1953, Jerry received a scholarship to the
University of Washington. Despite the receipt of the scholarship, F.W. insisted
that his son attend his alma mater, Lee College. In 1955, Jerry graduated from
Lee College with an associate's degree of liberal arts. From there, he attended
the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga where he received a bachelor's
degree. Jerry would go on to earn a master's degree, a Ph.D. and a Th.D.
Lee University, Jerry landed a job mopping floors on campus. His pay went
directly toward his room and board bill at the college. One day while working,
Jerry curiously asked his supervisor exactly how much he was being paid for his
work. After hearing his wages were a measly thirty-five cents an hour, Jerry
decided he could make more than that by singing, and he quit his job on the
spot. Jerry returned to his dormitory and began recruiting singers for his new
group. Now that he had a group, he had to find somewhere for them to sing.
week, the March of Dimes was slated to hold a fundraiser that would take place
at the local armory. Jerry went to those in charge, and boldly offered to have
his singing group from the college sing at the event for a small fee. The
coordinators for the event agreed, and thus began the professional singing
career of Jerry Goff.
Jerry then called
a pastor in Albany, Georgia, to ask if the group could sing at his church on
the Sunday morning following the March of Dimes fundraiser. The pastor agreed
and suggested that the group also sing Saturday with The Happy Goodmans and The
LeFevres, who were performing in the area. After returning to college on
Monday, Jerry paid his fellow singers and expenses, and had enough left over to
pay some of his bills. Jerry decided to name the group The Continental Quartet
because the members were from all across America. Jerry continued to sing and
preach all through college.
Jerry became the president of Programming Inc., a television production company
based in Atlanta, Geogia. Jerry produced numerous television shows such as
"Gospel Singing Caravan" and "Gospel Roundup."
Jerry's business expertise became well known throughout the music industry.
While working for Programming Inc., Jerry became business partners with Jim
Thrasher, of The Thrasher Brothers. Jim owned and managed a medical specialties
company, and asked Jerry to assist in advertising his company. Jim knew that
Jerry was a talented singer, so he asked him to join the Thrasher Brothers in concert
the following weekend in Sand Mountain, Alabama. The concert went so well that
The Thrasher Brothers decided to make Jerry a part of the quartet. Jerry became
a staple with The Thrasher Brothers.
A few years
later, Jerry would form The Singing Goffs. And the rest.. is history.