Solid Gospel series brings Chuck Wagon Gang to Renaissance Center

Release Date: 9/30/2003. Expired: 10/2/2003

The Chuck Wagon Gang, America’s longest-running and most recorded gospel group, brings its 70-year tradition of Southern gospel harmony to The Renaissance Center Oct. 2 as part of the Solid Gospel 105-FM concert series.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. show in the Performance Hall are $12.

It is a harmony that has been famous since the 1930s. There have been personnel changes, but most of the members have come from the same Carter family and the unmistakable sound of the Chuck Wagon Gang has remained virtually unchanged.

The Original Chuck Wagon Gang was founded in the 1930s by D.P. (Dad) Carter with his son Jim and daughters Rose and Anna. The group recorded for Columbia Records more than 40 years, a mark for a gospel music alliance which has been surpassed by no one, and at one time were the best sellers of all types of music recorded by Columbia. More than 37 million Chuck Wagon Gang records have been sold.

They have appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the Grand Ole Opry and on thousands of concert stages across the nation. They were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall Of Fame, and are included in the Smithsonian Institution’s classic American recordings.

The current members of The Chuck Wagon Gang are Shaye Truax, who sings alto and is the granddaughter of Anna Carter Davis (the original alto); soprano Melissa Cavness; tenor Rick Karnes, the son of Rose Carter Karnes (the original soprano); and bass singer and guitarist Darrell Morris. This group has much of the same sound and harmonies of the original group that began in the 1930s.

Manager, bass singer and guitar player Darrell Morris grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, with country gospel music as a part of his life. As boys, he and his brother Nathan played local shows and talent contests. He watched the Grand Ole Opry with a wish that somehow his life would be connected with music.

He was influenced greatly by the gospel music of Hank Williams, Connie Smith and the unique sound of the world famous Chuck Wagon Gang. “Getting ready for church on Sundays with the Gang playing on the radio is a memory I’ll always cherish.”

He played with a North Texas bluegrass group called the Good News Band, which ministered in churches and festivals for 13 years. He was introduced to Roy Carter, family member and manager of the Chuck Wagon Gang, and began to play the guitar for the Gang in 1994, until Roy’s death in 1997.

With a desire to serve the Lord and a call to sing the Gospel, Darrell reorganized the group in 1998 to continue the sound and ministry.

Darrell now lives in Joshua, Texas, with his wife of 27 years, Jan, who is the product manager and accountant for the Gang. He has two children, Jeremy and Michell.

Shaye Truax sings the alto for the Chuck Wagon Gang and is the granddaughter of the Gang’s original alto, Mrs. Anna (Carter) Davis.

Truax is married to Dale Truax and they have two sons, Benjamin and Noah. Truax has two Bachelor’s Degrees in Music (Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance and a Bachelor of Music in Choral Conducting) and so she arranges many of the Gang’s new songs in preparation for recordings.

Truax was involved in many musicals and operas in college as well as choral and theater projects, and so feels completely at home on stage. However, singing the Chuck Wagon Gang songs is what she enjoys most, especially since she has the opportunity to continue the legacy that her grandmother and family began nearly 70 years ago. Truax says the most important decision she ever made was on Aug. 15, 1981, when she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. “Becoming a Christian gave my love for music a purpose. I devoted my life to Jesus and dedicated my voice to singing His praises. I can’t imagine being involved in music in any other form or fashion. The Lord has truly blessed me.”

Rick Karnes sings tenor for the Gang. He is married to Rita and they have three children and six grandchildren. Rita also travels with the group and provides inspiration to all, as well as helps with selling merchandise. All of the Karneses live in Azle, Texas. He now lives in his mother’s house, Mrs. Rose Karnes, the original soprano for the Gang.

He has a unique ability to listen to all of the parts that are being sung, and helps to keep that original Chuck Wagon Gang sound. His tenor is most like his grandfather D.P. Carter, founder and original tenor singer for the group. He is an accomplished finger picking style guitarist, and loves many types of good music. He also likes working with his hands and restoring old Ford tractors.

“The Holy Spirit has anointed this group as He did for the original Gang. Each one of us are simple, plain people, but together we are the Chuck Wagon Gang,” Karnes said.

Melissa Cavness is the 26-year old soprano. She joined the group in late 2001, and had been working for the U. S. Postal Service for over seven years.

She and her husband, Jason, have two children: Weston and Alysse. She lives in her hometown of Groveton, in the piney woods of east Texas. She grew up singing in a small country church, and recalls attending her first two-week Stamps-Baxter singing school at the age of 6, taught by Mrs. Pauline Pate.

Cavness credits her love of music and God to her family. She once said, “I have been so blessed to have a Christian family that loves the old fashioned music. I didn’t have to learn the Chuck Wagon Gang style, I was raised on it.”

She is fast becoming the most popular soprano the Gang has had in many years. She loves her new job singing and especially loves all the new friends she has made.

For more information on the Chuck Wagon Gang concert at The Renaissance Center, call (615)740-5600. To purchase tickets call (615)740-5570 or visit the centerís box office at 855 Highway 46 South in Dickson, just 35 miles west of Nashville on Interstate 40 at exit 172.

Visit the Events - Concerts and Recitals page for more about musical performances.

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