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Interview with Sylvanus Zeke Turner, March 19, 2018

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:01:04 - Family Background

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Partial Transcript: So just, just as right now, would you please give me...

Segment Synopsis: Sylvanus Zeke Turner, 79 years old, was born in Clarke County. He explains the origin story of his name "Zeke" from high school and his occupational background at Westinghouse. He also shares about his family, including his parents, siblings, wives, and three sons. His parents, Audley Turner and Roberta Turner, born and raised in Oconee County and Clarke County, respectively, raised nine children.

Keywords: Athens, Ga; Aubrey Bernard Turner; Audrey Milo; Edmund Raymond "Zeke" Bratkowski; Gregory Sylvanus Turner; Jesup, GA; Kieth Eugene Turner; Mosella Robingson; Westinghouse Electric Corporation (Westinghouse Electric Company)

00:06:56 - Relocation of Family

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Partial Transcript: Now, did they, I'm curious about Athens...

Segment Synopsis: Although some of Turner's family have moved, including most of his siblings, he doesn't recall his parents ever discussing leaving Athens. He mentions his maternal grandmother who lived in North Carolina and was a minister, similarly to a few other members of his mother's family.

Keywords: Athens, GA; Great (Northward) Migration (Black Migration); Salem, NC

00:10:07 - Family's Education

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Partial Transcript: Is there anything else you want to say about...

Segment Synopsis: Turner notes that all of his family finished school, including his children, who attended multiple schools due to district changing. His two oldest children studied at Washington State University and his youngest at Albany State University. He also has a brother that was hired as the Vice President of Michigan State University and a sister employed at the Clarke County Board of Education.

Keywords: Athens High School; Athens High and Industrial School; Athens, GA; Clarke County, GA

00:14:05 - Remaining in Athens

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Partial Transcript: Now have you ever lived any other place besides...

Segment Synopsis: Turner has lived in Athens his entire life and has never felt a need to leave, although he did travel the United States a lot as a member of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. After graduating high school, he began to attend college and worked at the Thornton Brothers paper company as a delivery truck driver. He later left for a job at Westinghouse, which he explains was an elaborate process to get hired.

Keywords: Dr. Rodena Preston Williams; Margaret Pleasant Douroux; Reverend Dr. James Edward Cleveland; Thornton Brothers Inc; Westinghouse Electric Corporation (Westinghouse Electric Company)

00:18:54 - Educational Background

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Partial Transcript: What about your, your educational background?

Segment Synopsis: Turner shares his time in elementary school at Timothy Road Elementary School, a small school right across from Timothy Baptist Church. He finished high school at Union Baptist Institute, one of the black high schools in Athens. He explains where other schools were in the county, including Athens High and Industrial as well as the white Athens High. After graduation, Turner studied at the University of Georgia for two quarters and began working at Thornton.

Keywords: Athens, GA; Clarke County, GA; Integration; Jeruel Academy; Segregation; Thornton Brothers Inc; UGA

00:26:41 - Music Background

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Partial Transcript: Now, I want to talk about your music...

Segment Synopsis: Turner's musical background began in elementary school choir, leading to singing for other organizations and churches. He soon became a member and Deacon at Timothy Baptist church and sang in the choir in his preteen years. Later, he joined his brother's quartet, which was together for over a decade. He shares the evolution of the quartet's members and where they ended up after breaking up.

Keywords: Chauncey Turner; George Stroud; Golden Tone Gospel Singers; Joseph Hester; Lighthouse Gospel Singers; Moses Turner; The Mighty Transporteers; Timothy Road Elementary School; Union Baptist Church; Union Baptist Institute; William Jackson

00:34:55 - Church Life

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Partial Transcript: Were, have you been a member of any other church...

Segment Synopsis: Turner joined Timothy Baptist Church in his early teenage years and has been a member of only that church since. Although his wife was a member of a different church, their children also became members of Timothy Baptist.

Keywords: Athens, GA; Calvin Derm; Comer, GA; Macedonia Baptist Church

00:36:57 - Honey-Drippers

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Partial Transcript: I kind of quit singing in church for a while...

Segment Synopsis: Turner sang with the adult choir in the church before joining Honey-Drippers, an Athens rock band. The performed all over Athens, mostly at fraternity houses and dorms on UGA's campus. He stayed with the band for a few years before returning to the choir.

Keywords: Athens, GA; Elvis Aaron Presley; James Joseph Brown; Otis Ray Redding Jr.; The Temptations; University of Georgia

00:43:06 - Recording with Quartet/ Other Group Performances

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Partial Transcript: ...quartet did. We did this song "Somebody Touched Me"...

Segment Synopsis: Turner explains that his brother's quartet did write some original songs and was able to locally record a 45 RPM record. The record was not released outside of Athens and he is unsure if any sold. Turner had no formal musical training but has learned to play the basics of a few instruments. He recalls the time a band manager saw him singing in choir and requested that he fill in for a member while he was sick.

Keywords: Athens, GA; Atlanta, GA; Cincinnati, Ohio; Timothy Baptist Church

00:46:35 - Comparing the Gospel

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Partial Transcript: How would you describe the music...

Segment Synopsis: Turner explains that the music he sang was always influenced by whatever the professional groups were singing at the time, no matter which genre. He began singing southern gospel around the early 2000s, mostly performing it at white churches. He notes the difference in sound between Southern Gospel and the gospel he sang in black churches.

Keywords: Beech Haven Baptist Church; County gospel; Elvis Aaron Presley; James Joseph Brown; Jolene Cherry; Mighty Clouds of Joy; Prince Avenue Baptist Church; Swan Silvertones; The Temptations; Timothy Baptist Church; Traditional black gospel

00:53:31 - Solo Performances

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Partial Transcript: And you learned most of your music from listening...

Segment Synopsis: Turner shares his experience being the only black performer at the NACMAI event at Pigeon Forge. He also explains a new style of music he is working on, transitioning back and forth between southern gospel and traditional black gospel. He explains that now he mostly performs for free, but will occasionally have to charge a fee for travel expenses.

Keywords: North American Country Music Association International; Pigeon Forge, TN; Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN)