Lester patriarch inducted into SGMA Hall of Fame
Pigeon Forge, Tenn. – Family members of the late Missouri performer, TV personality, and teacher Herschel Lester of the Lesters attended his induction into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame at Dollywood recently in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
“What an honor it is for our family to be ministering for all these years,” said son Brian Lester, who sings lead. “We are so thankful for our father.”
Herschel’s daughter Ginger, who sings alto in the family group, said that the induction of her father is awesome honor for their family.
“Every time my little granddaughter gets on the stage, I think how proud my dad and our grandparents would be.”
The Lesters, Brian, Ginger, Jenny and Jonathan, appeared to honor their late patriarch singing “I Promise I’ll See You Again,” a song that Herschel often performed.
Herschel became a second-generation inductee into the Southern Gospel Music Association (SGMA) Hall of Fame joining his late father Harvey Bryant Lester.
Herschel Lester is the only child of singers Harvey and Opal “Bobo” Lester. He continued the traditions they instilled in him, according to Charlie Waller, SGMA executive director.
“He was saved at a young age at an Old Fashion Brush Arbor Camp Meeting in Goldsboro, N.C., where the family was singing,” Waller said. “His early childhood was spent with his parents playing and singing Gospel music on the street corners and churches in the St. Louis area.
“This laid the foundation for the Lester Family group that is currently singing and ministering today,” he said. “Lester was an accomplished musician and singer and was a huge part of the Lester Family and band as it was known in those days.”
He was a music and band director in both the St. Louis and East St. Louis Public School Districts, he said.
“With a total of 50 years of teaching, needless to say he influenced and touched the hearts of thousands of people,” he said.
Lester taught private music lessons at the family music store everyday, he said.
“One of the highlights of Herschel’s life was when he and his mother were asked to help teach a singing school for the late Governor Jimmie Davis in Peckerwood Hill, La., at the Jimmie Davis Tabernacle,” he said.
Lester also taught at the Stamps School of Music held in Waxahachie, Texas, he said.
The Lesters performed in their ministry on weekends as both Herschel and his father held down full-time jobs, while Opal and Alene, Herschel’s wife, worked at Lester Music Store and Studio.
“The Lester Family Sings,” a weekly gospel music TV show, aired on the St. Louis NBC affiliate for 27 years and Herschel’s most requested song was “Thanks to Calvary,” according to Waller.
The Lesters hosted several tours to the Holy Land and stateside bus tours in the 70s, and cruises to the Bahamas in the 80s, Waller said.
For more information about the Lesters, visit www.thelesters.com
The other 2008 SGMA class of inductees are Polly Grimes, the late Fred Daniel, Squire Parsons, and the late Luther G. Presley, and Ray Dean Reese.
Producer, performer Lari Goss was presented the James D. Vaughn Impact Award.
The Southern Gospel Music Association is a non-profit organization that maintains the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame, the only facility honoring this genre of music, for the historic preservation of the accomplishments of the music and its people. For more information about the museum or its inductees, visit www.sgma.org.