Spartanburg Music Trail

Rev. Julius Cheeks

Rev. Julius Cheeks

Rev. Julius Cheeks
Audio Samples

Sensational Nightingales Morning Train

Sensational Nightingales I Want To Go

Sensational Nightingales Don't Put Off Today

Audio Tour: Rev. Julius Cheeks/

Rev. Julius “June” Cheeks was an American gospel singer famed for a gritty, powerful baritone which influenced not only the next generation of gospel performers but also secular stars including James Brown and Wilson Pickett.

Born into abject poverty in Spartanburg, as a child Cheeks was enamored of the recordings of the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Soul Stirrers and others. Cheeks began singing in the second grade, but soon quit school to pick cotton and work service stations. He joined a local gospel group dubbed the Baronets and in 1946 he was spotted by the Rev. B.L. Parks, a former Dixie Hummingbird, and was tapped to join a group called the Nightingales. At the height of their popularity they cut several sides for Decca Records.

To make ends meet Cheeks briefly joined the Soul Stirrers, rejoining the Nightingales during the early 1950s. During the 1950s, the Nightingales had a number of hits including "Somewhere to Lay My Head" and "The Last Mile of the Way." Due to popularity, they rechristened themselves the Sensational Nightingales.

In the 1950s, Cheeks was ordained as a minister but remained an active performer and arranger for the rest of his life working with bands such as the Four Knights which produced the timeless songs “Turn Your Radio On” and “Mother Sang These Songs.”

Interesting Fact

Because he dropped out of school at an early age, Cheeks was largely illiterate for most of his life, but he developed a profound knowledge of the Bible via recordings on 78rpm gramophone discs.

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