Babb Memorial King Solomon

Missionary Baptist Church

Church for the Whole Man

Babb Memorial King Solomon

Missionary Baptist Church

Church for the Whole Man

 

Lifenotes: Gospel Icon Rev. Morgan Babb Passes

 

Robert K. Oermann • February 10, 2014

 

The Rev. Morgan Babb, a fixture of African-American radio in Music City for more than 50 years, has died at age 84.

 

He owned, operated and starred on station WMBD-AM, which he founded in 1983. Before that, Babb spent nearly three decades on the air on Nashville’s premier African-American broadcaster, WVOL-AM. Born in Russellville, Ky., in 1929, Babb was the son of a jug-band performer who played for dances, and of a gospel-singing mother. He was the youngest of seven brothers. He began his career at WHOP in Hopkinsville, Ky., in 1948 as a disc jockey, broadcasting what were then called “race music” records. He cultivated a “jive talking” delivery and billed himself as “Happy Jack.” In 1950, he joined his brothers Cephus, Ray, Paul and George in a gospel-singing group. They billed themselves as The Radio Four. Morgan Babb became their lead singer, song arranger and guitar accompanist.

 

In 1952-53, Babb’s stirring, dynamic lead vocals were featured on a series of records the group made for the pioneering Nashville independent labels Tennessee Records and Republic Records. He moved to Music City in 1954, after his fame as “Happy Jack” won him a job at WSOK (later, WVOL), and The Radio Four began to tour using Nashville as their home base.

 

The Radio Four’s records featuring Babb’s lead vocals were reissued on CD in 1999. He left the group in 1956 to get off the road, spend more time with his family and continue as “Happy Jack” on WSOK/WVOL. He eventually became the station’s chief announcer. Babb also became a talent scout for several Nashville gospel labels. He wrote Lillian Offitt’s 1957 R&B hit “I Miss You So,” which was recorded for Nashville’s Excello Records. He formed The Philco Singers and The Voices of Nashville gospel groups. Babb also sang in the family recording ensemble The Gospel Five.

 

In 1965, Rev. Morgan Babb founded the King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church on 10th Avenue North in North Nashville. He issued a series of solo gospel records on Music City’s Nashboro Records in the 1960s and 1970s, sometimes backed by his church’s choir. These discs were largely self-composed. The 1995 CD Keep Faith reissued many of his best-known solo efforts.

 

After starting WMBD-AM, Rev. Babb prayed with station callers, organized meals for the homeless, testified, preached, ministered to the sick, and made the station a clearinghouse for community benefits and events. Always dedicated to African-American music, WMBD was fondly known as “The Big Mouth.” In addition to broadcasting, Babb continued to pastor at his church nearly up to his demise.

 

Rev. Morgan Babb died on Friday, Feb. 7. He is survived by seven children. Funeral arrangements have not been announced, but will be handled by Smith Brothers Funeral Directors.

 

 

Rev. Morgan Babb

King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church

1417 10th Ave North

Nashville, TN 37208

(615) 244-4161

ksmbc1417@gmail.com

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King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church is a church whose mission is to reach out to the community armed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We seek to make a change in our community by showing the love of Christ to our community.

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