Once upon a time…. Back in August 1955 to be more specific, the Serenaders were formed in a small mill town, Bladenboro NC. The original members at that time were Leroy Lovette, Johnny Thomas, Horace Byrd, Al Jordan, and Gerald Milligan. Horace Byrd was the original piano player for the quartet. Later on, Gerald Milligan would replace him on the piano and sing as well. This young quartet would soon be traveling across the country, joining the ranks of other professional full time groups. Lindsey Clemmons came aboard, replacing Leroy Lovette on the tenor part and would take up the responsibility of managing the quartet. The quartet recorded with Liberty Label and early on were featured on a radio program for WAGR in Lumberton and WRRZ in Clinton NC. . The Serenaders were invited and performed at the first National Quartet Convention, founded by JD Sumner. Through the 1950’s the group was sponsored by Freeman Motor Company in Lumberton NC, and Martha White Flour to host a singing TV program on WECT, TV6. Among the ranks of The Serenaders during the 50’s were Bill Southern, Vern Sullivan, Ed O’ Neil, David Willets, Buddy Burton and Albine English. The group would disband in the 60’s to pursue other careers. Gerald took over and ran his fathers grocery business. Yearning to satisfy his passion for music, Gerald changed from the grocery business to the music business. The birth of Milligan Music would happen in 1969. Gerald tuned and sold pianos and organs, and when his son Mike was ready, partnered with him to continue to grow successfully in the retail business. Although Gerald was successful in his new endeavors, singing, playing, and arranging were all talents that needed an outlet. Talents that Gerald wanted to continue to use for the Lord. It was then that Gerald formed a trio called the Countrymen. The original Countrymen were Gerald Milligan, Bobby Howard, and Jay Stone. The Countrymen would enjoy successes also. Eventually the trio would become a quartet, singing all over the country again. A balance was made between the music store and singing, and the Countrymen would also enjoy its ranks of talented singers. During the 70’ and 80’s the Countrymen would enlist names like, Danny Spivey, Bob Kroekel, Gene Player, Larry Heustuess, Kent Phillips, Teresa Sykes, Burman Porter, David Hester, McCray Dove, and Mike Milligan. With many of these singers moving on to other groups, Gerald and Mike continue on expanding the store to various locations.
Then one afternoon, a silver haired man came into the store and it was Lyndsey Clemmons. Gerald and Lyndsey began catching up after all the year, and soon a few songs were played and sung around a piano. After re-establishing a connection with Lyndsey, Gerald called up Johnny Thomas to join in on a jam session along with Bill Southern and David Willets. A Serenaders reunion was in the making. There were several board recording sessions with this reunited lineup. However, during the course of a year, various health issues would dictate changes in the group. Enter Larry Heustuess, David Hester and Mike Milligan to fill in the respective parts. The Serenaders continued regionally to spread the gospel in song. David Hester, now with the Dove Brothers, would move on to travel full time with Lumber River Quartet filling a spot vacated by David Cable, who also happened to be employed by Milligan Music. David, wanting to spend more time at home with his family was more than happy to sing bass for the Serenaders. Through it all, 2 original members, Johnny Thomas and Gerald Milligan continued with the quartet.
Singing and running a music business, Gerald and Mike started a new chapter. Serenade Studios, a recording studio rich in southern gospel tradition.. This rich heritage of knowledge and experience in gospel music is a wealthy resource for Serenade Studios. Gerald offered his experience and knowledge producing vocals for many recordings, along with an extremely talented David Cable. David being from the mountains comes from a family of singing tradition as well. He teaches singing schools to choirs and groups part time, and has a superior ear for parts. He is from the old “shape note” singing school. In December 14th of 2007 Gerald Milligan went on to be with the Lord. He left behind a legacy of excellence that is still carried on today! Gerald’s son Mike and grandson Steve and David all work together producing projects recorded here at Serenade Studios. We invite you to utilize our talents, become part of our history and record your next project with us, here at Serenade Studios.
(L,R) Lyndsey Clemmons, Al Jordan, Horace Byrd, Johnny Thoman, Gerald Milligan
The Original Serenaders Quartet - Earliest known photo
(Top L to R) Lyndsey, Johnny Al, (Bottom) Gerald
(L,R) Lyndsey, Al, Albine English, David
(Bottom) Gerald (1959)
(Top L, R) Lyndsey, Johnny, Bill
(Bottom L,R) Gerald, David
Gerald & wife Julia
God Is Love Album
How Do You Pray Album
The Countrymen (L,R) Bobby, Jay, Gerald
Gerald, Julia, And Mike Milligan Take Mcray Dove To His First National Quartet Convention.
McCray Dove & David Hester Currently Of The Dove Brothers Sang With The Countrymen. Also, Gene Player, Dale Guyton, And Mike Milligan
Talk about Before And After...Years later in Rockingham.. Various groups (Serenaders Dove Brothers & Sonrise), all at one singing, leads to an opportune Countrymen reunion of sorts.
Serenaders first appearence in the "Gospel Singing World", pre Singing News era.. back in the day..