Tribute to the Legendary Swanee River Boys
Paul Rhoden and The Suwannee River Boys would like to thank the Abners for their contribution to these pages. Buford, Dorothy, and Pam have conversed and given to us some of the history of the Original Swanee River Boys. All the pictures and contents of these pages were donated to us to use for this documentary.
Not only are these people our friends, but are some of the most humble, Christian people you will ever meet. We speak with Buford, Dorothy, or Pam about every week, and the more we converse with them, the more inspired we, the current Suwannee River Boys, are.
Buford Abner was the only living member of the original group, Buford passed away Nov.21,2011.what an inspiration he has been to all of us who knew him when we talked with him about the good ole days. To be such an icon in the Southern Gospel industry, he was such a down-to-earth and comical person to talk to.
Buford often shared his "on-stage experiences" from the time when he was performing. Buford told us that he used to be on stage with the boys, and if they acted out a mistake, he would call them back into a circle and work on the mistake in front of an entire audience, then return to the front stage and continue the song.
His daughter Pam told us that he was one of the most humorous people she had ever met. She said that as a child, she remembers her dad leaving the stage during a song called "The Sun Didn't Shine" (playing right now in the background) while the guys were doing the "oo'ing" and "ahh'ing." He would remain off stage for a short period of time then return to finish the song. It really stirred up the audience.
Buford Abner is the only member of the Original Swanee River Boys that has been inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. We are pursuing, along with the Abners, to get Merle Abner, Buford's brother who sang bass the entire career of the Swanee River Boys (except for his time in the military), into the SGMA Hall of Fame. The Great Leroy Abernathy filled in for Merle during the time Merle was absent.
We hope the next few pages will open yours, and the rest of the world's hearts and eyes to such a unique sound that has never been copied by another group. We feel The Original Swanee River Boys were a group before their time and have not received the recognition they so greatly deserve. May you enjoy a music sample of their awesome singing as it plays in the background.
L. to R.: George Hughes - Tenor, Merle Abner - Bass,
Billy Carrier - Baritone, Buford Abner - Lead