Ira Tucker, one of the last members of the original Dixie Hummingbirds, died on June 24 in South Carolina due to heart failure. His legacy, being instilled in greatness and attached to one of the greatest quartets of the Golden Era of gospel, allowed him to sing with the Birds for seventy years - when he joined the group at the age of 13 in 1938. The group went on to record hits records on the Decca, MCA and Peacock labels, and afforded the group a mighty opportunity to provide background vocals on Paul Simon's pop/gospel hit "Loves Me Like A Rock." The group recorded their own version, without Simon, in 1973, and won a Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Performance.
The Dixie Hummingbirds' most popular hits, featuring Tucker's vocals, includes: "Christian's Automobile," "Let's Go Out To The Progams, "Who Are We?" and "In The Morning." Tucker also recently worked with Wynonna Judd on "How Great Thou Art" and recorded a country album.
Anthony Heilbut, an author, producer and expert on gospel and other music, called Mr. Tucker “the presiding intelligence” of gospel quartet music.
During the early years of his tenure, when the group was struggling to distinguish itself from other a cappella outfits, Tucker began to help the group forge a unique sound and style. “He really moved the Dixie Hummingbirds into what we call the 'soul gospel' era, which would roughly be throughout the 1950s," said Jerry Zolten, author of “Great God A'mighty: The Dixie Hummingbirds Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music." “We begin hearing instrumental accompaniment. We begin hearing that expression of angst and soulfulness that we associate with the best of Southern soul. We began to hear a different kind of rhythmic feel."
Their last project, Still...Keeping It Real: The Last Man Standing, was released on MCG Records in 2006.
He is survived by his wife Louise , daughters Sundray and Lynda, son Ira Jr., five grand-children and six great-grandchildren.
Ira Tucker of The Dixie Hummingbirds funeral will be held on Wednesday July 2, 2008 at The Met, 858 N. Broad St. Philadelphia, PA 19130. Corner Broad &
Poplar. (Renamed Dixie Hummingbird Way)
The viewing will be conducted from 9:00 AM-11:00 AM. The funeral will
proceed immediately following.
The funeral arrangements are being handled by Yarborough Rocke Funeral Home, 1001 N. 63rd St. Philadelphia, PA 19151. Phone: (215) 473-5100
Please send cards and flowers to the funeral home. Faxed condolences should
be sent to: (215) 879-3145. E-mail: email@example.com
[IN MEMORY OF IRA TUCKER]