Years ago, I interviewed Chester’s gospel great, Solomon Johnson. He gave me a glimpse of what it was like to be a celebrity gospel artist during his years of cutting albums and giving concerts up and down the eastern seaboard. Most of group members had full time jobs, hopped in the car or bus on Friday after work, and got back home in time for work Monday morning after a weekend of travel and singing.
Sol said there was about a 6-hour drive time radius, so they were well known from Virginia to Boston and as far west as Pittsburgh. Outside of those areas they were complete strangers.
I stumbled on a press release mentioning The Sensational Pearly Gates of Chester, who probably was traveling the same highways as Sol Johnson.
ATLANTA – Dec. 29, 2015 – PRLog — The Legendary Cisrow Family have been singing together as a family for 40 years, with their parents managing them for 25 years. They have toured with such greats as Mr. Louis Dicks & The 5 Blind Boys of Alabama and Mississippi, the Dixie Humming Birds, Willie Neal Johnson & The Gospel Keynotes, The Soul Stirrers and The Sensational Pearly Gates of Chester, PA.
After a little digging, I found this mention…
The present members remaining are brothers Elton Jolly Sr., of Philadelphia; John Shelton Sr., of Chester, Pa., and Wayne Magee Sr., of Bridgeton.
My guess is that Elton Jolly, Sr. is probably related to the family that owned Jolly’s Restaurant and may be related to Bill and Brett Jolly who are master musicians out of Philadelphia and are closer to my age. John Shelton, Sr. is a familiar name in Chester, and Wayne Magee, Sr. should ring a bell with someone reading this.
Does anyone remember The Sensational Pearly Gates of Chester?
So enjoy ur blog. Helps me keep an on-going homework ‘to do’ list file for my Chester’s Black History collection. Thx ‘n keep the info comin’!
Yes I grew up looking forward to them coming to Conn to sing at our church. Friends of my grandparents r from Chester and introduced them to us. It became tradition for them to come once a year. I remember Jolly ,Magee Shelton and I loved Murphy. I wonder are they all still living and singing. I am 53 and they are one of my greatest memories.
I remember The Sensational Pearly Gates quite well as a kid in the early 1970’s. They used to come to New London, Connecticut and the surrounding areas a great deal as my dad’s group, “The Sensational Londonaires” used to host concerts (or what we used to call “Programs”) with them. As a matter of fact, Mr. Harold Caple, Sr. from The Sensational Londonaires founded The Sensational Pearly Gates in 1948.
Hello to who it may concern, I am so grateful to have found this web informed, because I use to follow them in Camden NJ when the sing songs for the Lord. I am looking to buy all of their CD with their songs on them my is all played out so please let me know. If you received this message. Please let me know you are still do singing program or chuch service. God bless you all!!
Is this the same Pearly Gates group who sang with Sister Lucille Pope?
It looks like this group recorded exclusively on Gateway, perhaps their own label?
I have their four track EP and their first album, “Lord Take My Hand”.
I’m missing their second album, “Grandmother Taught Us To Sing”. Anyone have that one?
I grew up following Tha SENSATIONAL PEARLY GATES…MY DAD HAD ALL OF THERE MUSIC…YESSSS ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHURCH GROUPS…THA BAAS PLAYER ….MR SHELETON
…JORDAN RIVER…Tha same GOD…I JAVE TEARS TALKING ABOUT THEM…WOULD LOVE TO HEAR THEM 1 MORE TIME….CUMBERLAND COUNTY NEW JERSEY…BRIDGETON AND MILLVILLE AND VINELAND PORT NORRIS….SALEM COUNTY
…WE ❤️ THA PEARLY GATES
Mu Uncle was a part of the Pearl Gates of Chester
I remember The Sensational Pearly Gates very well wonderful memories my family use to follow them quit a few places several fun times wonderful where is Mr Lorenzo Carver is he still around
My mom dated him in the late 70’s early 80’s. Trying to remember what my mom told me, I think he moved to Cincinnati. He has Parkinson’s disease. My mom kept in touch with him for a while until he was unable to talk on the phone. I’m not sure if he is still alive though.
I sang with The Sensational Pearly Gates of Chester,Pa for a year. Mr. Jolly, Mr. Shelton, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Magee, we traveled the Jersey circuit and every year they would a Homecoming Program here in Chester. I also sang 20 players with Mr. Sol Johnson nd The Migty Cross Gopel Singers of Chester.
Thanks for helping to keep Chester’s great history alive
I would love to have some of their music.Does anyone know how get any of their music/Please help