Enoch Sullivan, Bluegrass Gospel Pioneer, dies at 79

He performed frequently at Grand Ole Opry

Bluegrass gospel performer Enoch Sullivan died Wednesday, Feb. 23, in Mobile, Ala. He was 79.

Enoch Sullivan of St. Stephens, Alabama was a pioneer of Bluegrass Gospel music. He and wife Margie have performed together for more than fifty years as the Sullivan Family band playing for congregations in small country churches as well as entertaining audiences at major festivals across the U.S. and Europe. They have appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and were inducted into Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame in Bean Blossom, Indiana and the Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame in Anita, Iowa.  They met in their teens, when Sullivan was playing mandolin in a group led by his father, the Rev. Arthur Sullivan. Their repertoire favored traditional old-time music and bluegrass gospel standards.

The group - dubbed "the first family of bluegrass gospel music" by Bill Monroe -- included such young performers as future country star Marty Stuart, who debuted with the Sullivans at age 12.

The Sullivans toured internationally and were frequent performers at the Grand Ole Opry, and they're members of the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame. In 2005, they received the Alabama State Council on the Arts' Folk Heritage Award and one of the industries highest honors the IBMA's Distinguished Achievement Award. (for both Margie and Enoch Sullivan)

Music was a big part of he early lives of Enoch Sullivan and Margie Brewster early on. Enoch's father, the Rev. Authur Sullivan, played string band music back in the 1930's and 40's. They pattered their music very much like Wade Mainer and the Mainer's Mountaineers. And over in Winnsboro, LA., Margie Louise Brewster loved country and old-time music. She loved Molly O'Day, Kitty Wells,  and Martha Carson. Her father purchased a guitar for her at an early age and the mold was cast. She left home at 13 to be the singer guitarist for an evangelist named Hazel Chain. Her work was more than a job for her. It was also a ministry. And it has remained so all these many years. It was through this ministry that she and Sister Chain went to Alabama where she met her future husband.

For five decades Margie & Enoch Sullivan and The Sullivan Family band have carried the banner of bluegrass gospel music in the deep South and Gulf Coast region of the United States, and they have made significant inroads for the music among fans around the world.  Their trademark style features hard-driving, traditional bluegrass instrumentation led by strong lead vocals from Margie and Enoch’s fiddle. The family began publishing Bluegrass Gospel News in 1989, a quarterly tabloid newsletter to promote bluegrass gospel music.  Family band members have included Arthur, Jerry, Lisa and Aubrey Sullivan. Non-family members have included Joe Stuart, Marty Stuart, Carl Jackson, Joy DeVille, James Phillips, Joe Cook and Earn Sneed.  Enoch and Margie Sullivan have always remained close to their roots, seeing their mission as primarily one of praising God through music and making their home in the small community of St. StephensAlabama.
Sullivan is survived by his wife, a son and three daughters, 13 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. (Christopher Morris)

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