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Want to see a slideshow of the quartets performing this year?
(view it here)

Southern Gospel music, also known as "quartet music" because of the originally all-male, 4 part make-up, is music written to communicate either personal or shared faith regarding biblical teachings and Christian life.  It is also characterized by the extremes in the vocal range of the tenor and bass singers and by the often intricate harmonies of the four parts.

Southern Gospel's emergence as a distinct music form is generally considered to be in 1910, the year the first professional quartet was formed for the purpose of selling songbooks for the James D. Vaughan Music Publishing Company. However, by 1910 the style itself had already existed for about 25 years. The musical work of Charles Davis Tillman (1861–1943), who popularized "The Old Time Religion", wrote "Life's Railway to Heaven", and published 22 songbooks over his career, certainly lends credibility to that assertion.

(Information from Wikipedia. Click here for more information.)