Foot-tapping, hand-clapping, down home, happy, feel good, gospel music are emotions invoked when describing traditional gospel quartet music. Houston based Endurance stir up those feelings and more in their heartfelt style of musical delivery. In 2008, The Black Gospel Blog described their sound as…“that tangy-sweet traditional sound indigenous to the American South.” These anointed, spirit filled members of Endurance can touch your heart with one song and make you clap your hands and shout for joy on another. They are truly a gospel expression of love and hope in Jesus Christ.
The six-time Stellar Award nominated traditional gospel quartet group’s orginal members consists of manager and vocalist Claude Cummings, primary lead vocalist Michael Robertson, vocalist Earl Sampson, and former vocalist, the late Dave Botts, who passed away in May, 2017. Two new members, Wallace Grant II and Sean Webb have stepped up to the microphone taking on vocal duties left vacant by Dave, as well as Earl Sampson who is temporarily on medical leave. Each member has the ability to lead and assumes that role at different times. They are currently in the studio working on their sixth studio CD, CHANGED which promises new material that is very spiritual, uplifting and more versatile in how it sounds and feels. Their intention is to introduce something fresh and new and expand their message to a wider audience. This new project is sure to showcase their evolution and versatility. Although the guys are experimenting with some new sounds, fans can be assured that all their songs are always scripturally accurate. The first single, “Changed” featuring the late Joe Ligon, legendary Grammy-Award winning lead singer of the Mighty Clouds of Joy was released January, 2017. It is impacting radio now and recently broke the Top 100 on the Nielsen BDS Gospel Radio Airplay Charts. Other promising singles include “I Came”, “One Day Soon” and “God is Making a Change”, a song written by longtime collaborator “Spanky” Williams.
Endurance’s latest offering released in 2012 is entitled RIGHT ON TIME, also featuring Mr. Andre Tate of the Williams Brothers. “Right on Time” not only is the title track but also their most successful single to date in terms of radio spins and record sales. Another single that stands out is the stirring, hip smacking “That’s What Jesus Did” which has increasingly gained popularity with audiences. The fan favorite is “Thank You Lord For Mama” an endearing ballad penned “Spanky” Williams which pays tribute to mothers in true quartet fashion. The song was included on the Grammy entry ballot. Its undeniable personal and performance impact makes it one of the most significant and meaningful songs Endurance ever recorded. “Ain’t God Good” and “Old Fashion Church” have also impacted radio airways throughout the United States receiving heavy spins and doing very well as singles.
These Houston natives first met at Kashmere Senior High School. Claude, Earl and Mike were all high school friends in Houston, Texas. Claude remembers, “Back in the day we use to sing in the bathroom so we could hear the harmony bounce off the walls.” After reconnecting at their 30th high school class reunion they decided to sing again, which eventually led to them getting back together. Henceforth, they began singing at family reunions and various church events. As their destinies began to be revealed, God laid it on Claude’s heart that maybe this was something they could do professionally. Mike’s reply was, “You must be kidding, at our age who is going to listen to us sing professional music?” Unshaken and feeling deeply that he was being led by the Holy Spirit Claude simply told the guys “Let’s pray about it.” The rest as they say is history.
Each original member is actively involved in their respective churches and all are either deacons or preachers. Claude is the Chairman of the Deacon Board at Fifth Ward Missionary Baptist Church, Michael Robertson is an active member at Southeast Community Church and Earl Sampson is a deacon at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist church. Earl recalls it was at church when their name was revealed. “The name came from a sermon by my pastor C.L. Jackson…He was describing how God’s circumference protects us and he illustrated it on a blackboard one evening by drawing a big circle with a dot in the middle.” Earl continues, “The point he was trying to make was as Christians our job is not only depend on God but to “endure”…that if we endure till the end all things will happen for us according to God’s plan.” The word endure sparked something in Earl and he immediately felt like Endurance was a good name — it was unanimously adopted.
Many pioneers have been musical influences of the group. Legendary acts of the genre like Mighty Clouds of Joy, Five Blind Boys of Alabama, The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Southern Clouds of Joy and The Soul Stirrershave inspired what Endurance does. Endurance has been performing together professionally about 16 years and recorded their first project A Few More Miles in 2001. Their third CD I’ve Got A Home helped catapult their careers receiving six Stellar nods. They believe they have a sound that fits all genres of gospel, describing their music as encouraging, spiritual, traditional, inspirational, versatile and very uplifting. Through the years Endurance has shared the stage with some of traditional gospel’s shining stars including The Williams Brothers, The Canton Spirituals, The Pilgrim Jubilees, and Lee Williams and the Spiritual QC’s plus many others.
Part of the group’s uniqueness is they possess the talent and ability to present their songs in different formats from down home, stomp down, driving gospel to ballads. “Clearly our song style of musical presentation is different and multifaceted…If you listen to our CDs not one song sounds like another,” says Earl. Another variance from other groups is they host their own radio show. Fans can tune in weekly to their radio show “The Endurance Hour” on terrestrial radio and via the internet. Hosted by group members, Claude Cummings, Jr., and Michael Robertson, along with co-host, Sharon Baldwin. Listen Live to the best of Endurance quartet music on “The Endurance Hour”on KWWJ Gospel 1360 AM/96.9 FM radio, every Saturday, 2:30pm – 4:00pm/CST. Log-on to (http://www.kwwj.org).
Endurance has racked up a bevy of awards, nominations, and appearances including a performance spot at the 2011 Stellars. They’ve wowed audiences at the Houston, Dallas and California House of Blues venues respectively. In 2013, the group was a featured artist at the annual Houston Juneteenth Celebration. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee honored them by inviting Endurance to perform at the renowned Kennedy Center for the Washington, D.C., The Evolution of Gospel – Gospel Music Heritage Month Celebration. Likewise they performed for the Houston event at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Their rousing Mother’s Day performance in 2012 on local television talk show, “Great Day Houston” with host Deborah Duncan, can be seen on their website. The men were nominated for Quartet CD of the Year, Male Quartet Group of the Year and Quartet Song of the Year at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards; and performed at the Pastor’s Visionary Awards. They’ve also won a Newsome Award. Their sophomore project, He’ll Make A Way was ranked #1 by Gospel USA Magazine’s top 30 independent gospel charts December 2005 – January 2006. Also, in 2013 they were nominees in the Best Gospel Traditional and Best Gospel Album of the Year categories at the South Florida Gospel Music Awards. Past recognitions involve: 12 Grammy entry ballots for the single, “Thank You Lord For Mama”, 2011 GMWA Rhythm of Gospel Awards, 2006 recipients of the AGQC’s (American Gospel Quartet Convention) New National Award; 2005, and for the past 7 years they’ve been the winner of the Texas Gospel Music Excellence Awards – Best Male Group and Best Quartet. Their most recent honor was winning Male Quartet of the Year at the September 2017, Prayze Factor People’s Choice Awards.
Furthermore, Endurance is an outstanding and strong presence in the community. The group remains altruistic and actively involved in various community outreaches and initiatives. In association with Faith Revitalization Center, Inc., a non-profit Claude Cummings chairs, Endurance annually sponsors a ‘School Supplies Give-Away and Health Fair’. Hundreds of school supplies are distributed to needy families, along with laptop computers and health and well-being information. Tickets to needy families have also been donated for kids to Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Galveston, Texas. Likewise, the group hosted “Endurance Night” at the UniverSoul Circus. In years past, Endurance has ministered in prisons, nursing homes; participated in toy drives, relief efforts and donated $1.00 from each online CD sale to the Pediatric Aids Foundation. Recently the group adopted Sickle Cell Anemia as their current philanthropic cause. “It’s important that people know we give back to the community. We want people to know we are down to earth, reachable and touchable. And we want to make Houston proud in relationship to what we do in gospel quartet music,” explains Mike.
Immediate plans include completing their sixth studio album for a 2017 release. Endurance was featured on the July – September 2016 cover of Gospel USA Magazine. In 2015, they embarked on their first international ministry opportunity in Lugano, Switzerland at the Blues 2 Bop Festival completing four dates in late August. Shortly after returning to the states, on October 8, 2015, in Oak Lawn, Illinois, the group was honored with a “Living Legends Award” by the Chicago Gospel Announcers Guild and Dennis Cole, President of the National Gospel Announcers Guild. Endurance made their third appearance under the gospel tent at the Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) in Austin, Texas, in October, 2016. Several scheduled concerts and engagements will round out this year. Next year, plans are to prayerfully secure a spot on SXSW 2018, in Austin, The Chicago Gospel Music Festival, in Chicago, as well as the 2018 Winnipeg Folk Festival in Canada. It was announced in the April-June 2016 issue of Gospel USA Magazine that their next project after CHANGED will be produced by gospel music icon, Melvin Williams.
Mostly, Endurance wants people to know that their motto is “Reaching God’s People Through Song.” The group’s lasting legacy should express, “We led a lot of people to Christ and we were a group that was outstanding for God.”
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Special Guest Traditional Quartet Gospel Musical Group "Endurance"
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