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The Palmer Singers
The Palmer Singers are legendary in their own rights. They are talented artists in both traditional and contemporary gospel sounds. Birthed out of their father’s extended family, singing is their forte. But if asked, they will tell you that they are not entertainers, although wherever they perform, they steal the show. Their principle motivation is to glorify God and usher the worshiper into His presence.
These singers feel that it would be negligent not to acknowledge their “Gospel Greats,” the original pioneers who founded and paved the path for the local celebrity and notoriety they have enjoyed for years. The original Palmer Singers consisted of Mildred Palmer-Conway, Emogene Palmer-Nash, Joanne Palmer-Williams, and Eunice Palmer-Gordon. During the 1920s in Bluefield, West Virginia, the Palmer Sisters later became “The Palmer Sisters and Brother” which included their brother, William R. Palmer, Jr. who was the eldest son but the youngest sibling in the group at that time. As each one reached adulthood, they migrated to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to raise their families.
Beginning in the early 60’s, this young apostolic preacher, Elder William R. Palmer, Jr., mimicked the same concept from his early days, continuing his singing inheritance through his own children. This generation of Palmer singers included Elder William R. Palmer, Jr. as director and pianist, his children; Pamala T. Palmer, Pamella T. Palmer and Penelope T. Palmer, who incidentally were the same three children along with their mother, Lerah Palmer at the bedside of Apostle William R. Palmer, Jr. as he transitioned to be ever-present with the Lord.
The group created blends of harmonic melodies that mesmerized their audiences. They traveled with their parents as their father preached throughout the east coast wooing congregations with their dynamic and anointed performances. They became well-known and made regular appearances on the 1960’s television show “Spread-A- Little-Sunshine” hosted by Elder “Ed” Gerald.
Through the years, the clan grew and was allowed to unveil their musical contributions within the group. In the early 70’s, the eldest son, William Jr. (Billy), became the first drummer and in the early 80’s, their younger brother Wendel (Doebaby), was introduced as a secondary pianist. During this same time Pamella (Mella), took over as leader of the group (allowing daddy to devote his full time to the ministry) and began introducing a new generation of gospel songs.
The Palmer Singers have hundreds of songs in their repertoire, spanning from the early days of Thomas A. Dorsey, to the contemporary sounds of today’s best selling gospel artist.
Their mission has been to avoid the influence of mainstream and to enhance the beauty of gospel ministry through consecrated songs of worship and praise. They pride themselves on being accountable to their pastor’s needs and promoting an atmosphere of glory whether in the sanctuary of the Lord or in a secular setting. One motto that has governed the group’s purpose is, “Don’t use us because we’re available; use us because we’re useable.” They desire to be used, not by man but of God.
It was the highlight and pivotal point of their musical career to give musical renditions during the home-going services for their father and original member of the Palmer Singers. He taught them all they know musically; they did it for him and they knew he would expect it of them.
The Palmer Singers music ministry continues to be a blessing to the church. We hope to keep the legacy alive in the next generation as they yield themselves to the work of the ministry.