Pilgrim Travelers

The Specialty label's most prolific gospel act, the Pilgrim Travelers were among the most successful and influential groups of gospel's golden era; famed for their distinctive "walking rhythm" sound, they also earned renown for their riotous live performances and breathless showmanship. The Pilgrim Travelers were formed in Houston during the early '30s by Joe Johnson and Willie Davis; the latter relocated the group to Los Angeles in 1942, taking with him cousins Kylo Turner and Keith Barber. By mid-1945, their ranks included bass Raphael Taylor as well as J.W. Alexander, a light tenor and onetime semi-pro baseball player with Negro league teams including the Ethiopian Clowns and the New Orleans Crescent Stars; he soon assumed managerial control of the group as well.