JAMES STEPHEN WETHERINGTON
(1922 – 1973)
James “Big Chief” WETHERINGTON was the talented and debonair bass singer for The Statesmen Quartet during the group’s most prolific years, 1949 – 1970s.
One of Southern Gospel’s all-time great bass singers; James Wetherington is remembered not only for his rich bass voice, but also as a man of class and dignity.
James Wetherington began his career in the late 1940s singing with the Sunny South Quartet and then with the Melody Masters. In 1949, he became the bass singer for The Statesmen Quartet and it would be with that legendary group that his name would be forever etched in Gospel Music history.
When Wetherington joined The Statesmen, group leader Hovie Lister suggested James needed a nickname. Paying homage to his Cherokee Indian heritage, and his tall, lean, statue, Wetherington became “Big Chief” and the endearing name became part of Southern Gospel history. His friends and close associates shortened the nickname even more, to simply “Chief.”