Homer Rodeheaver (1880-1955)
(2008 INDUCTEE) A GOSPEL SINGER, COMPOSER AND PUBLISHER, HOMER RODEHEAVER WAS EVANGELIST BILLY SUNDAY’S MUSIC DIRECTOR FOR TWENTY YEARS. HE RECORDED FOR GENNETT FROM 1921 TO 1924.
DEDICATED TO HARRY LEAVELL, FAITHFUL AND TRUSTWORTHY FRIEND OF THE GENNETT FAMILY FOR SEVERTY YEARS, BY MRS. HENRY GENNETT MARTIN.
Remembered best for his unique combination of evangelism and music, Homer Alvan Rodeheaver was born in Union Furnace, Ohio. While attending Ohio Wesleyan University, he worked as a song leader for William Biederwolf’s evangelistic group. Later, he became acquainted with Billy Sunday, perhaps the 20th century’s most prominent evangelist, and in 1910 joined him as music director and master of ceremonies. So began Rodeheaver’s long career of “soul winning through sermon and song.” During his lifetime, Rodeheaver published approximately 80 books of “sacred” music, now known as gospel. His instrument of choice was the trombone, and he would entertain his audience with both his playing and his wit. He made his first recordings with Victor in 1917, then started his own company, Rainbow Records in 1921. He soon partnered with Gennett Records, both in Richmond and New York, to solve production problems at Rainbow. This collaboration lasted until the mid-1920’s, long enough for Rodeheaver to fill three Gennett catalogs with his sacred recordings. He used profits from his publishing company and personal appearances to establish and subsidize Rainbow Ranch, a boy’s orphanage in Florida, as well as the Rodeheaver School of Music in Winona Lake, Indiana. It was at Winona Lake that lay pastors from around the country learned how to use music to reach their congregations.
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