LENA “MOM” SPEER
(1899 – 1967)
Lena “Mom” Speer was one of the pioneering female voices of Southern Gospel Music, joining husband Tom to found The Speer Quartet in 1921, the group who later became The Speer Family. The impact and legacy Tom and Lena, Dad and Mom Speer, had on Southern Gospel Music cannot be overestimated as their children and grandchildren carried on their musical heritage for decades.
Lena Darling (Brock) Speer was born to a Gospel Music heritage. Her father, Charles A. Brock, was one of the South’s leading musicians and teachers. Charles Brock taught his children to sing almost before they could talk. Lena married Tom Speer in 1920 and before long her and Tom were joined by Tom’s sister Pearl and her husband Logan Claborn to form the singing Speer Quartet. In the early 1920s Southern Gospel Music was dominated by men, so the male/female mixed voice sound was a rarity. Eventually Lena and Tom’s four children, Brock, Rosa Nell, Mary Tom, and Ben joined the group and the name transitioned to The Speer Family, the children becoming outstanding professional singers and musicians in their own right. The Speer Family, the parents and their children, thrilled audiences throughout the United States and Canada with their sincere, skillful performances.
Together The Speer Family would go on to record dozens of gospel records, eventually recording on the newly innovative 33 rpm LP format (Long Play) discs. Their recordings included classics such as Heaven Will Surely Be Worth It All, Time Has Made A Change, and “Mom” and “Dad’s” theme song, Won’t We Be So Happy? The musical roles within the group fluctuated through the years as personnel came and went, but Mom Speer’s alto voice could always be counted, especially in the group’s early days.