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A General Becomes a Legend

In 1956, Mississippi-born, Chicago-based gospel singer Spencer Taylor Jr. joined The Highway QC’s, a gospel quartet that once included Lou Rawls and Sam Cooke. In 1964, Taylor, who had become the leader of the group, moved to D.C., as most of the quartet’s members were living on the East Coast. Decades later, The Highway QC’s are still releasing music, performed at the 2021 Inaugural Gospel Celebration, and were touring regularly pre-COVID. Now, the 93-year-old Taylor has an autobiography out entitled A General Becomes a Legend, written with Noah Schaffer and Veryl Howard. The 139-page paperback includes a short biography of The Highway QC’s by Schaffer, who also conducted the majority of the interviews that make up the 48-page “spoken by Spencer Taylor Jr.” section. The book closes with a series of interviews with those who know Taylor, plus photos and a partial discography of The Highway QC’s. While this sectional arrangement is a tad clunky, longtime fans of The QC’s will find much to read here about Taylor’s musical style, the worldwide churches and arenas he played, and the legendary artists he knew. The book also shines a light on American history: Taylor describes his roots in the segregated South and the racism he and the group faced. In one section, he discusses how his group and Reverend Erskine Faush, a gospel DJ on Birmingham station WENN, played a role in the civil rights protests in 1963: “As soon as he played The Highway QC’s singing ‘All Men Are Made by God,’ that was the signal for everyone to come out and start protesting in every part of the city all at once.” Taylor tours frequently, but notes that when not singing, he spends time playing pool checkers with the Capital Pool Checkers Association, which recently lost its Shaw clubhouse. But proclaiming his love for Jesus through song remains his passion. “People ask me if … I am tired of singing, but I really don’t get tired,” he says. “If a few weeks go by, and we do not work, I start raising sand and asking when are we going to sing again.” The book is available from Amazon. $19.01.