By Tom Hanchett, historian Levine Museum of the New South
In the late 1930s this quartet burst onto the national scene, thanks to records made in Charlotte, and introduced the hot sound of swing to acapella gospel. The Gates started singing as teenagers in Virginia, then moved to Charlotte to perform live on WBT radio. WBT’s strong array of talent drew field recording teams from major record labels, including RCA Victor which recorded the Gates in 1937. Almost immediately the group became one of the top gospel attractions in the nation, with a regular coast-to-coast radio show on the NBC network and a performance at President Franklin Roosevelt’s inauguration. Highly successful tours of Europe convinced them to re-located to Paris in the 1950s. Today the Golden Gate Quartet still performs there, led by Charlotte native Clyde Wright.